Castroneves takes third Texas win
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) – Helio Castroneves is now a three-time Texas winner, too.
Castroneves, who last month won his third Indianapolis 500, beat Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe off pit row on the final stop and held on for the final 46 laps Saturday night to win at Texas Motor Speedway.
Briscoe was dominating the race, with more than a 10-second lead before a caution flag on the 150th of the 228 laps bunched the field after an extended stretch of green-flag racing.
Castroneves worked past Marco Andretti after that restart and was on the tail of his teammate when A.J. Foyt IV crashed 15 laps later.
When everybody went into the pits for the final time, Castroneves had a 6-second stop, beating Briscoe and Scott Dixon out by more than a half-second. Castroneves’ winning margin was 0.39 seconds.
“It feels fantastic,” Castroneves said. “The last pit stop, I jumped in the front and that was it. That was incredible. … It was pedal to the metal, let’s drive like we stole it.”
It was the 16th career victory for Castroneves, whose racing career was in jeopardy earlier this year because of a federal tax evasion trial before a jury acquitted him on most charges. The remaining count was finally thrown out before his Indy win.
Briscoe finished second and took over the season points lead from Scott Dixon. Marco Andretti was fourth and polesitter Dario Franchitti, the Ganassi teammate of Dixon, finished fifth. Danica Patrick was sixth.
Castroneves has won three of the last six IndyCar races at Texas, and Penske has won four of the last six on the 1 1/2-mile, high-banked oval. The only other three-time TMS winner is former series champion Sam Hornish Jr.
Briscoe has more than a 10-second lead over Andretti before that caution for debris, the first time the race pace was slowed since the opening laps.
But the short run before another yellow set up Castroneves’ race-winning stop.
“It was so evenly matched that it was so hard to pass. It was frustrating knowing I was going to come in second,” Briscoe said. “It’s bitter when you come so close and it falls away.”
Graham Rahal got loose on the second lap, that mishap collecting E.J. Viso and Milka Duno and knocking all three of them out of the race. After the restart on lap 10, there wasn’t another yellow flag until the debris caution that cost Briscoe his huge advantage.