Castroneves Wins Firestone Indy 400

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BROOKLYN, Mich. - Helio Castroneves ended up climbing a fence while his Marlboro Team Penske teammate, Sam Hornish, Jr., had to park his car or risk possibly ending up in the fence today at Michigan International Speedway in a bookend finish for team owner Roger Penske.

 

Castroneves led the final 24 laps in the rain-delayed Firestone Indy 400 to capture his fourth victory of the season and, more importantly, move into the IndyCar® Series points lead, unseating Hornish, who finished last, completing just 61 of the total of 200 laps because of a mechanical failure.

 

The race was delayed a total of 2 ½ hours by rain. That's more time than it took Castroneves to garner the 11th victory of his IRL career in the third fastest IndyCar Series race ever. The Brazilian averaged 193.972 miles per hour. There were only two caution periods for a total of 10 laps.

 

"I was very disappointed about Milwaukee last week (crash and 14th-place finish), but I was able to put that thing behind us and look forward," said Castroneves, who also won the pole position here on Saturday. "It's very hard to say what's going to happen in the points. Obviously, the day was long, long for everyone, the team, drivers and fans. It was so tough at the beginning, waiting in the car 30 minutes and then you saw water coming out of the weepers in the track, but the car held good and I didn't have any trouble."

 

Hornish finished second last week at Milwaukee to hold onto the points lead for the third consecutive week, but now trails Castroneves by eight points. Defending IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon moved up to third, 17 points out of the lead, following his third-place finish.

 

"We don't know if the temperature is rising or if it's something in the electrical boxes," Hornish said just after climbing out of his car. "We don't know if it's in the boxes. We don't know what's going on. It's really a big shame.

 

"I'm the only guy to have a problem. So what are we going to do about it? I don't know what the answer is. We had good power and we could lead when we wanted to. We've got a big hole to dig ourselves out of again. We had a real good car and led right from the beginning. We had the power and we could lead when we wanted to."

 

After the first three laps were run under caution, Hornish passed Castroneves on the first lap under green to take the lead he held for the next 37 laps before mechanical problems forced him to retire. 

 

"It's still a great day," Hornish, from nearby Defiance, Ohio, said later from his motorhome parked in the infield. "The championship's not over yet, so we

can't be too worried about that. We'll be back. We'll come back for another one. Hopefully we won't have any more problems like today. "

 

There are only three races remaining on the Indy Racing League schedule as Hornish seeks his third series title.

 

Vitor Meira, who led a race-high 75 laps, finished second, 1.62 seconds behind Castroneves, who led for a total of 61 laps.

 

Meira was over four seconds behind Castroneves late in the race, but Meira quickly  started to close the gap near the end before getting caught in traffic.

 

Asked what happened to allow Meira to close so quickly, Castoneves said, "That's easy. I lost my wingman (Hornish).  I don't know what happened to his car."

 

Danica Patrick appeared to run out of fuel with three laps remaining and finished 17th when it appeared she would finish seventh. As she walked away from her car, she stomped her feet, threw her helmet to the ground and kicked an orange barrel.

 

"It was a brutal day," she stated.

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