Despite feeling ill all weekend, Helio Castroneves drove magnificently to score his second Champ Car victory which was almost as satisfying as his first.
If you had seen Helio Castroneves on Friday afternoon you would have thought that it would be impossible for him to complete even half a race distance, never mid 83 gruelling laps around the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course. Pale and drawn, Helio was actually hooked up to an IV drip by the CART medical team such was his state of exhaustion after first practice.
Infact he looked much the same as he knelt on the ground on the start/finish line on Sunday afternoon after pummelling the opposition, waiting for the onslaught of the TV cameras. In other words, he was completely spent.
Away from the green flag it was pole position holder Gil De Ferran who led the field closely followed by Castroneves as the two Team Penske cars quickly got into their stride. Kenny Brack took third place from Dario Franchitti off the start line but Franchitti was able to muscle back into third after just five laps.
Franchitti was clearly the best of the non Penske's and proceeded to leave Brack and the closely following bunch in his wake. However the Scotsman's awful luck continued to haunt him and before the quarter distance mark he was heading to the pits for the first of several stops in an attempt to cure an electrical problem.
The two Team Penske cars continued to pull away at the front by almost a second a lap with Castroneves obediently following his team-mate, for now. Brack was holding down third with Max Papis, Christian Fittipaldi, Michael Andretti, Cristiano Da Matta and Juan Montoya all virtually glued to his rear wing.
However Montoya's charge was destined not to last as the evil handling Target/Chip Ganassi Lola got the better of the Colombian on two occasions, dropping Montoya to the back of the field.
The race was not memorable for a great amount of overtaking as the increased aerodynamics on the Champ Car chassis made it very difficult to get a tow from the driver ahead.
De Ferran led until the first round of pit-stops when Castroneves came into his own. The young Brazilian chose to pit two laps later than his slightly older countryman, a decision which paid dividends after some scorching laps just prior to his stop put him out nary five seconds ahead of De Ferran after his stop.