Castroneves Masters Motegi

Castroneves celebrates his third win of the season.

Castroneves celebrates his third win of the season. (Photo: Getty Images)

Helio Castroneves passed Team Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe on a Lap 118 pit stop and held on to win the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi. It was his second victory in a row and second at the 1.5-mile track.

Castroneves led 153 laps, clinching the two bonus points for most laps led along with the bonus point for the Peak Performance Pole Award. He becomes the IZOD IndyCar Series all-time lap leader today, breaking the record held by Sam Hornish Jr of 3,428. Castroneves has led 3,487 laps.

"Team Penske is about execution and they gave me a fantastic car," said Castroneves, who backed up his win at Kentucky Speedway with the dominating win from the pole. "Every time I wanted to go for it, the car was responding."

Dario Franchitti beat Will Power to the finish line by 0.4997 of a second to claim second place and close the championship points gap to 12 heading into the season finale Oct. 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. This is the fifth consecutive year that the championship will be determined at the final race of the season.

"It's great for us to put the Verizon car on the podium," said Power. "I've never finished ahead of him (Dario) on an oval and one day I'll get it, hopefully this year because if I don't, he'll win (the championship)."

The second-place finish also earned Franchitti the inaugural IZOD IndyCar Series A.J. Foyt Oval Championship.

"The race started very well," Franchitti said. "I was really the only person that could mix it up with Ryan (Briscoe) and Helio (Castroneves) all day. We were very good on restarts. We did make a small mistake on the downforce level today, but we did OK. Helio was just in a class of his own in terms of sheer speed but we could get him on the restarts occasionally. I was fighting as hard as I could with those guys. Will's guys did a great job in the pits and got him back up into contention. We can only control what we do and we did our best."

Briscoe finished fourth, matching a career best finish at Motegi.

Danica Patrick was fifth, further extending her series record for consecutive races running at the finish to 32.

"I'm pleased. Being a competitor, I always think about what could've, should've, would've been and how it could have been better and where things went a little bit wrong," Patrick said. "I thought that the Go Daddy car ran really well today. I was pleased with the way it handled. When we got in clean air, it was really fast. I think our lap time this year was almost a half-second quicker than the fastest lap time last year. Overall, I think everyone did a really good job. We just kind of lost out on those last pit stops."

The next IZOD IndyCar Series race is the Cafes do Brasil Indy 300 on Oct. 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Race Center

Auto Club 500

@ Auto Club Speedway
Saturday, October 19, 2013
TV Start:
NBCSN

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