Helio Castroneves finally secured Penske's first win of the 2013 season with a dominant display at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday. The Brazilian led 132 out of 228 laps, beating Ryan Hunter-Reay to the checkered flag by over four and a half seconds.
Despite starting from pole, it wasn't Will Power that lead the first lap, but Marco Andretti, the American taking the lead at the exit of turn two, going on to lead the first lap.
Pippa Mann brought out the first caution of the day when she stopped between turns three and four with her car on fire. Andretti still lead followed by Hunter-Reay and Power.
Racing resumed on lap 14 with Andretti still at the front of the field. He went on to build quite a lead over his team mate Ryan Hunter-Reay, with the 2012 champion 2.7 seconds adrift of the lead by lap 40. Three laps later, Hunter-Reay made his first pitstop of the day for tyres and fuel. Adretti remained in the lead, the third race he's lead this season.
On lap 53, Andretti and second placed Helio Castroneves pitted. The second caution of the day came out a lap later with Scott Dixon moving slowly on the backstretch.
Ryan Hunter-Reay lead the field as the race resumed on lap 63 and built up a lead of just over two seconds by lap 90, before pitting on lap 94 handing the lead back to Marco Andretti. Meanwhile, a pit road incident on lap 75 involving Scott Dixon's Honda powered car left three members of his Target Chip Ganassi team in the infield care center.
Castroneves relieved Andretti of the lead on lap 96, a position he would not relinquish for the rest of the evening.
The third and final caution of the day came out on lap 113 as Oriol Servia, driving his first race for Panther Racing, spun in turn two. Despite pitting under caution, Castroneves continued to lead as the race resumed on lap 122.
Castroneves streched out a colossal 13.6 second lead by lap 170 before pitting five laps later. The Brazilian continued to lead after taking on four tyres and fuel, holding a 4.7 second lead over compatriot Tony Kanaan.
Once Castroneves got to the front, he never looked back and despite Ryan Hunter-Reay closing in during the last laps, the three time Indy 500 winner held on to claim Penske's first win of the season, and the first for one of what is considered IndyCar's two biggest teams, after the early season dominance of smaller outfits. Andretti Autosport had another strong day with Marco Andretti finishing in fifth, with Tony Kanaan and Ed Carpenter separating Hunter-Reay and Andretti.
After the win Castroneves extends his points lead over Merco Andretti to 22 points, Ryan Hunter-Reay sits third with Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan in fourth. Long Beach Winner Takuma Sato rounds out the top 5.
The next IndyCar race is on June 15 at Milwaukee. The race at the Milwaukee Mile will be the IZOD IndyCar Series' fifth race in just four weeks and the third event on an oval this season.
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