Helio Castroneves began the day at the Grand Prix of Baltimore from the seventh position and finished 75 laps at the 2.04-mile course in ninth place. It was still a successful outing for the 38-year-old native of Sao Paolo, Brazil.
With Scott Dixon forced out of the race after a collision with Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay suffering a power outage in his car, Castroneves further distanced himself from his top two competitors.
Castroneves now leads the IZOD IndyCar Series with 501 points. Dixon is still second, but his 39-point deficit ballooned to 49. Hunter-Reay, the reigning series champion, dropped from third to fifth with 427 points.
“Towards the end, I noticed that my main competitors were out,” said Castroneves, who is seeking his first series title. “I know it could have been a bigger risk trying to finish further ahead. I felt that I had a target on my back. So I said, ‘I’m just going to take what I get,’ and that’s what I did. Sometimes it’s better to have only a few points instead of having a big accident and not even getting a point. So now we’re 49 ahead, and that’s what we’ve been doing the entire season.”
Hunter-Reay acknowledged that overtaking Castroneves may no longer be a possibility.
“I don’t know if we can in the championship, but we’ll try to go win out the rest of the races,” Hunter-Reay said. “We have two races at Houston and a race at Fontana. So we’ll just try and go win it. But it’s going to be tough to win the championship right now.”