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St Pete 2007: Helio nearly perfect.


Marlboro Team Penske's Helio Castroneves led 95 of 100 laps as he successfully defended his 2006 Honda Indy Grand Prix crown on the 1.8-mile St Petersburg street circuit.

From pole position Castroneves was only headed thanks to the pit strategy of others and even went as far as to nudge an out-of-sequence Dan Wheldon out of the way before the green flag waved for the second of five restarts during the course of the race.

Escaping with no penalty, Castroneves only lost the lead for three laps from lap 34 onwards when Andretti-Green Racing's Marco Andretti inherited top spot during a round of green flag pitstops.

"It was all about consistency today," the Brazilian admitted, "Team Penske was incredible. The car was very consistent, although a little bit tough on the cold tyres.

"Almost everything was working perfectly. The gears started to wear a little and I had to be careful to not make any mistakes, especially on the brake point where the gears were tough. It was a great weekend. We worked very hard and it paid off in the end."

While nobody in the 18-car field had the machinery under them to pass Castroneves, Wheldon's Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon shadowed the fence-climbing Brazilian all the way home.

After dispatching Andretti for second place during the first green flag run between laps six and 28, Dixon never let Castroneves get more than a couple of seconds ahead and brought the gap down to just six-tenths of a second at the chequered flag after a dogged, but ultimately fruitless, chase.

"It's great for Target Chip Ganassi Racing," the Kiwi insisted after netting his second straight runners-up result of the season, "Two second place finishes after only two races this year puts us in the points lead.

"Helio had us covered, but I think we had a little more speed on cold tyres. We didn't make any mistakes and had a clean race, so it was a good day for us. Dan had a bit of a rough day, but he'll bounce back at the next race."



Related Pictures

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Helio Castroneves - Team Penske   [pic credit: IRL/McQueeney]
Scott Dixon - Target Chip Ganassi Racing   [pic credit: IRL/McQueeney]
Tony Kanaan - Andretti Green Racing   [pic credit: IRL/McQueeney]
Chevrolet sweeps the podium with winner Mike Conway (center), driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrating his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. Tony Kanaan (left), driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet celebrates his second-place finish. Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet celebrates his third-place finish. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/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)
The Team Penske crew of Juan Pablo Montoya simulate a pit stop during practice for the Iowa Corn Indy 300 at Iowa Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
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)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, July 6, 2014 during the Pocono IndyCar 500 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, takes the chequered flag as he races to victory Sunday, July 6, 2014 during the Pocono IndyCar 500 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, July 6, 2014 during the Pocono IndyCar 500 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)

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