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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 leads the field down the frontstretch to start the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday April 26 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves leads the field to the green flag to start the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday April 26 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves wins the Verizon P1 Award for winning the pole for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Saturday April 25 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves wins the Verizon P1 Award for winning the pole for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Saturday April 25 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves wins the Verizon P1 Award for winning the pole for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Saturday April 25 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves wins the Verizon P1 Award for winning the pole for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Saturday April 25 2015. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 AAA.com Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, races fastest to win the pole during qualifying Saturday, April 24, 2015 for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 AAA.com Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, celebrates winning the pole during qualifying Saturday, April 24, 2015 for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Gregg Ellman/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, finishes second fastest during qualifying Saturday, April 24, 2015 for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. Power will start in the front row next to teammate Helio Castroneves who won the pole position. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Penske Truck Rental Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, finishes third fastest during qualifying Saturday, April 24, 2015 for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. Pagenaud and Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Will Power had the fastest qualifying times. Castrovenes won the pole position. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves celebrates winning pole position for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Saturday April 25 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves celebrates winning pole position for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Saturday April 25 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves celebrates winning pole position for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Saturday April 25 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves celebrates winning pole position for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Saturday April 25 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves celebrates winning pole position for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Saturday April 25 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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