Saturday, April 22, 2006

Japan Makes A Great Tune-Up For May's INDY 500

Helio Castroneves climbs fence in win at Japan’s Twin Ring Motegi racetrack – Photo Credit: Ron McQueeney, IRL

At Honda's home track, Castroneves and Penske make a strong statement of readiness for a record matching run at Indianapolis next month.

With this season’s second win in a row, Helio Castroneves showed that he is ready to be counted among the rare club of drivers that can lay claim to winning the Indianapolis 500 open-wheel automobile race three times, with a win in the 500 this May. He currently leads in the 2006 season race points and has shown the consistency by winning two of the three races run this season.

Excerpts from Indycar.com -

Saturday, April 22, 2006
Castroneves wins second consecutive race, adds to points lead
By Dave Lewandowski - indycar.com

MOTEGI, Japan – Helio Castroneves showed his powerful hand in practice sessions at Twin Ring Motegi. When the stakes were higher in the fourth Indy Japan 300, he took the pot.

Oh, there were plenty of others in the game – including runner-up Dan Wheldon and third-place finisher Tony Kanaan, who both acknowledged they didn’t have enough to catch Castroneves near the end of the 200-lap race on the 1.5-mile egg-shaped oval.

They really didn’t have any answers from the midpoint onward. How dominating was Castroneves, who climbed the fence for the second consecutive race? Well, here are a few examples:

● He led 184 laps.
● His fastest race lap was 190 (199.910 mph; 27.3723 seconds).
● His second-fastest lap was 180 (199.847 mph).

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"What a team, what a team,” said Castroneves, who was whisked with champagne bottle in hand from Victory Circle to team owner Roger Penske’s plane for the flight to Phoenix to catch the Team Penske cars in the NASCAR Nextel Cup race the same day (the International Date Line is a wonderful thing heading east).

It was Castroneves’ fourth IndyCar Series victory from the pole and ninth overall (eight on ovals).

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