Castroneves wins in Japan

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 10:27 AM ET

MOTEGI, Japan -- Helio Castroneves won his second straight IZOD IndyCar Series race with a dominating performance in Sunday's Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi.

Castroneves, who won two weeks ago at Kentucky, started on the pole and led 153 of 200 laps. However, the Team Penske driver slightly fell back in the field to fifth when he struggled to get up to speed after a restart shortly before the half-way point. Castroneves reclaimed the lead for good on lap 118, and then ran in front for the remaining 82 laps. He finished nearly five seconds ahead of Dario Franchitti.

It was Castroneves' third win of the season and the 19th of his career, which placed him in a tie with Sam Hornish Jr. for second on the series' all-time race winners list. The Brazilian also won in Japan four years ago.

"Team Penske is about execution, and they gave me a fantastic car," Castroneves said. "It was awesome. It was like 2006. The car was unreal, and every time I wanted to go for it, the car was responding."

Franchitti's second-place finish allowed him to clinch the series' first-ever oval championship. He also trimmed Will Power's lead to just 12 points heading into the October 2 season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where the overall series title will be decided.

"We made a small mistake on the setup of the car, but we did our absolute best today," Franchitti said. "We got some more points on Will, and we're going after them again (at Homestead)."

Power scored his career-best finish on an oval with a third-place run. Last month at Mid-Ohio, he clinched the first road/street course title, winning five times on courses this year.

"It was my first (oval) podium, and I was happy to get the car in the top- three for the first time ever," Power said. "We're knocking on that door, and we're going to get there."

Ryan Briscoe finished fourth, while Danica Patrick, who scored her first IndyCar victory at Japan in 2008, completed the top-five.

Scott Dixon, the defending race winner, took the sixth spot, followed by Tony Kanaan, Graham Rahal, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Dan Wheldon.

Mario Moraes crashed hard into the wall in the early going. Moraes was awake and alert after the incident, but the Brazilian driver had to be airlifted to a nearby hospital after complaining of back pain.


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