Helio Castroneves' Milwaukee jinx struck again on Sunday when a comfortable lead in the ABC Supply/AJ Foyt 225 was wiped out in an instant as the rear wing mounting on his Penske Dallara collapsed.
The Brazilian has not enjoyed much luck at the Milwaukee Mile of late, but appeared in control of the traditional Indianapolis 500 follow-up. From pole, he had been the dominant force and, even though he lost the lead on several occasions as others - notably Buddy Rice and Dan Wheldon - played the pit strategy card, he always found his way back to the front.
After deposing of Wheldon shortly after a restart on lap 169, Castroneves pulled out a lead in what was to be the final fuel run for all of the leading contenders. However, with several seconds in hand over Tony Kanaan, the rear wing of the #3 Dallara-Honda suddenly folded flat as Castroneves came off turn four on lap 201. The double Indy winner looped into an uncontrollable spin that resulted in him making hard contact with the inside retaining wall in front of the pits. Although unhurt, the Brazilian was understandably deflated at seeing another potential victory taken from him.
"I had the race won," he insisted, "It's a shame that something so odd happened there at the end. The car just started spinning when my rear wing broke. I'm not exactly sure what went wrong. It's unfortunate because the Team Penske car was fantastic all day. The car was getting better and better throughout the race. I'll just have to laugh it off, but it's amazing that I have such bad luck at this place."
Castroneves hardly had time for a debrief with his team before team-mate Sam Hornish Jr, after an earlier scrape with the turn two wall, pitted with early signs of his own rear wing failure.
"Today was a tough day for all of Team Penske," the reigning champion sighed, having returned to the fray to claim ninth at the flag, "We struggled with some car handling problems early in the race, but we were lucky enough to still be at the front late in the race. Then, less than 20 laps from the end of the race, something went wrong with our rear wing.
"This is the same problem that Helio had. It's pretty strange that this happened to either one of us, let alone both of us. It's the kind of thing that almost never happens. It's pretty frustrating since we both had a chance to win the race. We'll go back and check the cars over thoroughly to figure out what broke and try to rebound in Texas next weekend."