Helio Castroneves is attempting to win his fourth Indianapolis 500 this year and he'll be doing it with Meyer-Shank Racing. (IndyCar Photo)
Helio Castroneves. (IndyCar Photo)

Castroneves Tops SRX Opener At Five Flags

PENSACOLA, Fla. — He may not have won a fifth Indianapolis 500 this year, but Helio Castroneves showed he’s not finished climbing fences after a thrilling victory in Saturday’s opening round of the Superstar Racing Experience campaign at Five Flags Speedway.

Castroneves held off late model star Bubba Pollard for his first victory in the series and thrilled the standing-room-only crowd by celebrating with his trademark climbing of the frontstretch fence.

Castroneves triumphed after being a late edition to the event, making it the first 13-car field in the history of the series.

Taking the lead from fellow Indy car driver Tony Kanaan on lap 62 of the 75-lap race on the historic half-mile asphalt oval, Castroneves cruised the remaining distance.

“This is fantastic,” Castroneves said. “I don’t know what happened to Tony. It was super cool running side-by-side with him. At the end of the day, we worked really hard to be in victory lane.”

Pollard, who led the first 20 laps from the pole before getting a flat tire, rebounded to finish second.

“I hate that I had a flat tire, but these (SRX) guys were good,” Pollard said. “It brought me back to my early super late model days where you’re hanging on and doing all you gotta do.

“Hopefully, we made the short-track community proud. And to do it at Five Flags makes it so special. This is the place that taught me how to win at other places. Five Flags taught me patience and respect to my fellow racers.”

After a battle with Pollard, Ryan Newman finished third.

“Bubba gave me a heck of a run,” Newman said. “Thanks for all the fans for coming out. It was hot for us; I can’t imagine how it was for them. I love this opportunity to race with the best.”

Kanaan faded to fourth and Bobby Labonte rounded out the top five.

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