LONG BEACH, Calif – It was looking like Helio Castroneves was going to cruise to his first Verizon IndyCar Series victory since Belle Isle of last year. Castroneves, started on the pole and led the first 30 Laps of Sunday’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and was cruising for max points this weekend. He had to pit for the first time of the day on the 30th lap as he regained the lead five laps later.
The Brazilian would lead all the way until his final stop with 17 laps-to-go in Sunday’s race, but unfortunately, that pit call kept him out of victory lane on Sunday afternoon at the scenic 11-turn California track.
Scott Dixon who was running second, pitted one lap earlier, as the duo ran into lapped traffic which caused his lap times to slow. By Dixon pitting one lap earlier, he didn’t have any traffic as that outlap mixed with Castroneves’ lap around the 1.968-mile track in traffic allowed the Chip Ganassi Racing driver to get around Castroneves by time he exited pit road.
Then, Castroneves’ Team Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud pitted two laps later from the lead, but like Dixon, Pagenaud had clean air on his laps as well allowing the Frenchman to hold onto the lead after his stop.
That put Castroneves third after the final round of stops as he would finish there giving him his 87th podium of his IndyCar career and 125th career top five finish.
But, it’s not where Castroneves wanted to end up as he had a car capable of winning. Unfortunately, pit road and a late pit call left his No. 3 AAA Chevrolet out of victory lane.
That’s a tough pill to swallow.