INDYCAR SERIES PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma CountyFinal
Castroneves ends rough week with victoryAug 25, 2008 - 12:30 AM SONOMA, California (Ticker) -- Helio Castroneves turned a nightmare week into a dream finish on Sunday.
The Brazilian won the IndyCar Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway from the pole in a backup car Sunday, just four days after a transporter fire severely damaged his primary vehicle and pit equipment.
It was Castroneves' first win this season, 13th career, and snapped a 29-race winless skid.
"I've been waiting so long for this," Castroneves said. "Let me tell you, these guys worked 24-7 to get us ready after our cars and stuff burned. Oh my God, this is just awesome."
Castroneves' Team Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe, also using replacement equipment due to the transporter fire this past Wednesday in Wyoming, was second.
Castroneves beat Briscoe across the finish line by 5.292 seconds to pick up his first victory since the 2007 race on the streets of St. Petersburg.
Tony Kanaan finished third, followed by Dan Wheldon and Danica Patrick.
Despite the top-five finishes, both Kanaan and Wheldon were eliminated from championship contention, meaning it is a two-man race for the title between Castroneves and Scott Dixon.
Dixon, the series leader, finished 12th on Sunday and saw his lead atop the standings over Castroneves cut from 78 points to just 43 with three races remaining.
"We did absolutely nothing right today," a visibly upset Dixon said as he stormed off the track. "We did everything wrong."
It was only Dixon's third finish outside the top 10 this season through the first 15 races.
Castroneves also collected three bonus points for leading the most laps on the 2.303-mile, 12-turn permanent road course.
Castroneves was able to take the checkered flag thanks in part to his pit strategy. After making the last of his three fuel stops on lap 57 of the 80-lap event, all he had to do was wait for the drivers ahead of him to hit pit road.
He then took over the lead for good on lap 59, where rookie E.J. Viso pitted, and easily led the rest of the way.
"My team kept telling me, 'Push, push, push.' That was fun, a lot of fun," Castroneves said. "We've been close so often. We never lost faith."
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