It’s been a very good start of the 2013 Izod IndyCar Series season for Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves.
He finished runner-up in the season opener at St. Petersburg and then followed that up with a third place at Barber Motorsports Park two weeks ago. He currently leads the standings heading into the third race of the season at Long Beach this weekend.
This start is very similar to last year’s.
In 2012, Castroneves won the season opener at St. Pete and finished third at Barber in the next race. He was the prime choice and favorite to win a record-tying fourth Indianapolis 500 and his first season championship.
Unfortunately, outside of a win at Edmonton he wouldn’t get on the podium the rest of the season.
Castroneves will try and do better than a 13th place finish he had last year around the 1.968-mile street course in Long Beach. He’s had success at nearly every track and done enough to be ranked among the best open wheel drivers of all-time, but is lacking the season championship.
The Brazilian has made 182 career starts and has reached victory lane 21 times. He has 33 poles and is among the best drivers to ever race around the famed 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He’s finished second in the final season standings twice in 2003 and 2008. He just needs to get over the hump and win the title.
Castroneves can finally get over than hump and get well on his way this weekend. He didn’t get a chance to run Long Beach in ’08 as he was battling a court case and the series didn’t race there in ’02.
He’s never finished better than seventh at Long Beach while running in the Izod IndyCar Series as he has a seventh in 2009 and 2010 followed up with a 12th and 13th the last two years.
He has reached victory lane around the 11-turn track though as he won back in the CART days in 2001. He took his No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske car for the win that year after finishing runner-up in 2000.
It’s safe to say if Castroneves leaves Long Beach with a top five and the points lead he’s going to be tough to beat this year. The next two tracks are very good ones for him.
On May 5th the series visits Castroneves’ hometown in Sao Paulo then has the Indianapolis 500 at the end of the month. He could really extend his lead at these two races and having the momentum of a good finish at Long Beach could prevail him.
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