By Amy Konrath
(FORT WORTH, TX) – Helio Castroneves dominated the Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway to take sole possession of first place in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship standings through eight of 19 races.
Driving the Chevrolet-powered No. 3 AAA Insurance car for Team Penske, Castroneves led 132 of 228 laps on the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval and won by 4.7 seconds over reigning series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay in the No. 1 DHL car for Andretti Autosport.
Castroneves is the seventh different winner in eight races this season, and the first to win four IZOD IndyCar Series races at Texas Motor Speedway. It was his first win on an oval since 2010 at Twin Ring Motegi.
"It was just the setup; we did a lot of homework. Awesome job everyone," said Castroneves, who broke a tie with Johnny Rutherford for 12th on the all-time Indy car list with his 28th victory.
Castroneves also broke a tie with Marco Andretti, who led 57 laps early and placed fifth, to move 22 points clear heading to the Milwaukee IndyFest on June 15 at the Milwaukee Mile.
It was the first victory of the season for Team Penske and the sixth different team to hoist a trophy in Victory Circle.
"Helio drove a flawless race and a key victory in our season based on where we were in the standings," team owner Roger Penske said. "It probably was the best execution we’ve had in a long time. Helio now leads the points and that’s critical as we are in this stretch of oval races."
Tony Kanaan, who started 13th in the No. 11 Sunoco "Turbo" car, finished third. Two hours before the Firestone 550, Kanaan was presented a certificate of ownership to "TK500" by the Professional Bull Riders COO Sean Gleason, in recognition of his Indy 500 victory. The bull, formerly known as Mud Wasp, is a competitor on the PBR’s Built Ford Tough Series.
“I win the Indy 500 and now I have a bull named after me. It doesn’t get much better than this," Kanaan said.
Ed Carpenter posted his best finish of fourth at the track.