After finishing runner-up at Edmonton three times, Helio Castroneves had finally had enough. He took the checkered flag this afternoon, his first win since the season-opening race at St. Petersburg.
The 75-lap race went caution-free, with James Jakes being the only driver unable to finish. This was the first full race that went caution-free since Homestead in 2009.
One of the hometown favorites looked like he had the car to beat for two-thirds of the race. Alex Tagliani led 49 laps before his car began to drop off after his final pit stop. Castroneves went to the lead but Takuma Sato was charging hard.
Sato was unable to pull Helio in, and settled for second . Will Power joined them on the podium as he finished third after starting 17th. Graham Rahal and Tagliani rounded out the top five. The rest of the top ten included Dario Franchitti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Ryan Briscoe, Justin Wilson, and Scott Dixon.
Helio said the placed “owed us” after he had his 2010 win at Edmonton taken away because of blocking. His three second-place finishes are also impressive, but not as impressive as Power’s strong run. After missing out on the Firestone Fast Six on Saturday, he took a ten-spot grid penalty to get the latest Chevy engine update. He vaulted himself from 17th starting position, to the podium. While he did slip to third in the standings, it could have been much worse for the Aussie.
The win moves Helio ahead of Rodger Ward for 13th on the career wins list. It also puts Helio into second place in the championship standings with just four races remaining in the season. Hunter-Reay still holds a 23 point lead over Castroneves, with Power lurking in third, just 26 points behind.
With Helio’s win today, Chevrolet has all but clinched the Manufacturer’s Championship. If they finish better than the Lotus machine of Simona de Silvestro in the remaining four races, they will win it.
The next event on the schedule is the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio on August 5.