Helio Castroneves headed a Penske one-two at Infineon Raceway to breathe life into his championship effort. He ended a 29-race streak without a win after scoring seven second places so far this year.
It came just days after Penske lost both their original race cars when one of their transporters cost fire. Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe had to use their backup cars in the race.
Castroneves’s signature move of celebrating a win by slimbing the nearest available safety fence proved difficult to execute at the Sonoma track – so he leapt into a spectator enclosure and hugged a fan who had shown up with a Brazil flag!
He had plenty to celebrate. With title leader Scott Dixon languishing in 13th it was as good a result as Castroneves might have hoped for.
Tony Kanaan was third ahead of Dan Wheldon and Danica Patrick. Ernesto Viso was the top ‘transition’ driver, ahead of Vitor Meira. Newman-Haas-Lanigan duo Graham Rahal and Justin Wilson were eighth and ninth ahead of Mario Moraes.
Dixon’s title lead has now been cut from 78 points to 43, but Helio Castroneves is the only driver left who can catch him:
Scott Dixon 576
Helio Castroneves 533
Dan Wheldon 452
Tony Kanaan 446
Ryan Briscoe 390
Danica Patrick 345
The next race is at the Belle Isle street circuit in Detroit next weekend.