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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

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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.
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to a sixth-place finish Sunday, August 3, 2014 during the IndyCar Series race at Mid Ohio Raceway in Lexington, Ohio. The finish was good enough for Power to retake the drivers points championship lead from teammate Helio Castroneves. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Chevy Racing sweeps the podium with race winner Sebastien Bourdais (center), driver of the #11 Hydroxycut KVC Racing Technology Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrating his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the first of two IndyCar Series races in Toronto, Canada. Second-place finisher Helio Castroneves (left), driver of the #3 PPV Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet, and third-place finisher Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, join the celebration. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to a fourteenth-place finish Saturday, July 13, 2014 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Power lost the championship points lead to teammate Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, who finished eighth. (Photo by Dan Streck/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 TNT Energy Drink Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, races to a third-place finish Saturday, July 12, 2014 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V6, takes over the championship points lead with an eighth-place finish. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V6, took over the championship points lead with an eighth-place finish Saturday, July 12, 2014 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. (Photo by Brett Moist/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies third Friday, July 11, 2014 for Saturday`s race at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.  (Photo by Brett Moist/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves celebrates second place (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves on pit road (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves leads Ryan Briscoe (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves on pit lane prior to qualifications for the Pocono INDYCAR 500 at Pocono Raceway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves heads down the Long Pond Straightaway during practice for the Pocono INDYCAR 500 at Pocono Raceway (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Race winner Juan Pablo Montoya celebrates with Helio Castroneves and Carlos Munoz on the podium after the Pocono IndyCar 500. (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves hits the wall after contact with Sebastien Bourdais. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves celebrates clinching pole position for race 2 at Houston. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves celebrates clinching pole position for race 2 at Houston. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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