In Race 2, Helio Castroneves led early but a broken gearbox housing left the No. 3 entry stranded in Turn 6 on Lap 11 and significantly impacted his hopes of securing his first series title. Team owner Roger Penske said the car "bottoming out" after going over a bump broke the gearbox. The crew returned the car to its temporary garage area to replace the gearbox and rear suspension, and Castroneves rejoined the race on Lap 47 (36 laps down to race leader and teammate Will Power) and he finished 23rd. Dixon takes a 25-point lead into the finale. Caption Credit: IICS | Image Credit: Chris Owens for Motorsport.com
Helio Castroneves Suffers From A Texas Two-Step Before MAVTv 500 Finale
For Penske Racing's three time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves, a funny thing happened on the way to Fontana to secure a first ever IZOD IndyCar Championship ... he suffered from a catastrophe we will call the Texas Two-Step.
Earlier in the year, Texas was very, very good to the hopes and aspirations of the "Dancing With The Stars" television show winner and stand-out. It was in Texas at the Firestone 500 held at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth that Castroneves, driving the No. 3 AAA Insurance Team Penske car, passed Marco Andretti's No. 25 RC Cola car for Andertti Autosport on Lap 97 to lead to the end and capture his fourth win at a track that boasts to launching IndyCar championship runs (the winner of an IZOD IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway has gone on to claim the season championship five times).
It was in Texas that Helio took over the points chase lead with 4½ months and 11 events left in the season.
At the end of the Firestone 500, the first race in Texas that gave hope to a Castroneves championship points run, “We've got to be consistent when you have opportunities (you have to seize them). At this point, just got to keep moving,” said Castroneves, who broke a tie with Johnny Rutherford for 12th on the all-time Indy car list with his 28th victory and first on an oval since September 2010 at Twin Ring Motegi. “Monday, got to turn the page and focus on the next race.”
It was in Texas after 10 events and 4 months that Helio Castroneves lost the lead in dramatic fashion during a two-race weekend in Houston.
At the beginning of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston contested on a 1.634-mile, 10-turn temporary street circuit created largely out of the parking lot that surrounds the Reliant Park Stadium and Astrodome complex, the third two-race weekend of the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series championship season, Helio Castroneves held a 49 point advantage over his closest competing driver, Target Chip Ganassi Racing's three-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon. By the end of Race 2 on Sunday, through a combination of mechanical failure, the effect of a 15 point championship points penalty levied after the Firestone 500, and poor qualifying performance, Scott Dixon left Texas with a 25 point lead (an improbable 74 point swing) over Helio Castroneves with only one race left.
The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner has been agonizingly close to the title multiple times in 11 IZOD IndyCar Series seasons, including runner-up to Sam Hornish Jr. in 2002 and to Scott Dixon in ’08. Additionally, the 2006 title battle that also came down to the final race is frozen in time. Castroneves carried a one-point advantage over Team Penske teammate Hornish into the season finale at the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway oval. Dan Wheldon, who won the race by .1897 of a second over Dixon, also picked up bonus points for earning the pole and leading the most laps to tie Hornish, who placed third, with 475 points. Hornish won the tiebreaker of season victories (4-2) to claim the championship. Castroneves started and finished fourth in the race to claim third in
the season standings with 473 points. Caption & Image Credit: indycar.com
This excerpted and edited from IndyCar.com -
Castroneves has weekend to forget in Houston
By Dave Lewandowski - Published: Oct 6, 2013
“Well, obviously this is not how we wanted our weekend to go," said Castroneves, who had a streak of 12 consecutive top-10 finishes end in Race 1.
"And there is still a lot of racing left. We know we have a strong car in Fontana."
The MAVTV 500 INDYCAR World Championships at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway oval in Fontana, Calif., is Oct. 19. Castroneves was among 23 drivers who tested at the venue Sept. 24 in preparation for the 250-lap twilight race on NBC Sports Network.
"The good news is we had a test there and it was extremely good," Castroneves continued. "It's going to be a heck of a race."
The season finale will decide the series championship for the eighth consecutive season. In 2008, Castroneves trailed Dixon by 30 points entering the finale at Chicagoland Speedway. He won the race by .0033 of a second -- the second-closest race in IndyCar Series history -- over Dixon, who earned the title by 17 points.
The standings heading into the final race the past five seasons:
2008 -- Dixon 606 Castroneves 576
2009 -- Dixon 570 Franchitti 565
2010 -- Power 587 Franchitti 575
2011 -- Power 542 Franchitti 531
2012 -- Power 453 Hunter-Reay 436
To repeat, as Helio Castroneves put it just after winning the first race in Texas (and now, as it applies to suffering the Texas Two-Step on his championship dreams), “We've got to be consistent when you have opportunities (you have to seize them). At this point, just got to keep moving. Monday, got to turn the page and focus on the next race.”
2013 -- Dixon 546 Castroneves 521
Tune in to the MAVTv 500 IndyCar World Championships, Auto Club Speedway oval in Fontana, Calif., Saturday, October 19, 2013 - 8:00pm ET!
... notes from The EDJE