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Castroneves completes dominant Motegi weekend.

His pole position may have been a gift thanks to Friday's inclement weather conditions at Twin Ring Motegi but Helio Castroneves certainly earned his second consecutive IRL IndyCar Series win on Saturday.

The Brazilian born Marlboro Team Penske driver was able to take his fence-climbing road show overseas for the first time since joining the IRL, dominating the 200-lap Indy Japan 300 and completing a rain-hit weekend that saw him lead every practice session that he participated in.

From the front row of the grid, Castroneves was able to open up an early advantage and stay ahead of his pursuers through a pair of back-to-back caution flags in the first 60 laps that thinned the starting field from 20 to 15, thankfully without injury to any of the drivers involved.

He then stretched his legs during a lengthy green flag run, leading the pack by a secure margin and only losing the lead during a round of green flag pitstops at two-thirds distance.

With that round of pitstops also helping to reduce the number of Castroneves' closest challengers, the third and final caution of the day on lap 155 gave the remainder of his rivals one final stab at glory.

However after soaking up some early pressure, notably from Homestead winner and double defending Motegi winner Dan Wheldon, Castroneves was once again able to ease away as the final 35 green flag laps unfolded without further incident and eventually took the chequered flag with an almost unheard of (in IRL oval races) seven second advantage over runner-up Wheldon.

Not only does Castroneves' ninth career IRL win strengthen his early season points lead, it also gives the popular Brazilian driver the perfect momentum going into next month's Indy 500 where he will undoubtedly start as one of the favourites.

Most of the excitement came behind Castroneves, as drivers jockeyed for position to lead the chase. Andretti-Green teammates Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan started off ahead before being overhauled by Target Chip Ganassi duo Wheldon and Scott Dixon.

Working together, the two red and white cars in second and third were able to close in on the red and white car at the head of the field but although Dixon was able to draw alongside Castroneves once on the run towards turn three, he was never able to get his nose ahead.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Helio Castroneves - Penske Dallara-Honda   [Pic credit: IRL media/Ron McQueeney]
Dan Wheldon - Target Chip Ganassi Panoz-Honda   [pic credit: IRL media/Shawn Payne]
Tony Kanaan.
Helio Castroneves and Tim Cindric come together after a valiant effort in the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves, Driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole with the fastest qualifying time Friday, August 29, 2014, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Castroneves will start in the front row with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified second fastest.  (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, Driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates with his daughter Mikaella after winning the pole with the fastest qualifying time Friday, August 29, 2014, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Castroneves will start in the front row with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified second fastest.  (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, Driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole with the fastest qualifying time Friday, August 29, 2014, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Castroneves will start in the front row with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified second fastest. (Photo by Gregg Ellman/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, Driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole with the fastest qualifying time Friday, August 29, 2014, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Castroneves will start in the front row with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified second fastest. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves celebrates winning pole position for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves celebrates winning pole position for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves celebrates winning pole position for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves celebrates winning pole position for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves celebrates winning pole position for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves celebrates winning pole position for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves celebrates winning pole position for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves wins pole position for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves slides into his machine prior to the first session of the Open Test at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves crosses the start/finish line during the Open Test at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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