Castroneves stopped his Penske Racing Chevrolet in Turn 10, which earlier this year was renamed Dan Wheldon Way in honor of the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner. After climbing the fence, his traditional victory celebration, he ran to the street sign and patted it, then emotionally doubled over against the wall.
“No question about it, this is for our friend upstairs, Dan Wheldon,” Castroneves said.
Wheldon was killed in the October season finale at Las Vegas, and this season’s opener was in the Englishman’s adopted hometown. He lived in St. Petersburg, won the inaugural 2005 race, and his younger sister, Holly, dropped the green flag Sunday.
Castroneves’ victory came as the Brazilian is attempting to rebound from the worst year of his career. He went winless last season for the first time in IndyCar and finished 11th in the points.
The Penske Racing driver gave Chevrolet a win in its debut race. The engine manufacturer returned to IndyCar after a six-year absence.
Dixon finished second. Ryan Hunter-Reay was third for Andretti Autosport, and gave Chevrolet two spots on the podium.
Will Power failed to overcome a decision to pit early for gas and finished seventh.
FORMULA ONE: In Sepang, Malaysia, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso won a dramatic Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix, giving the Italian team one of its more unlikely victories in its long history.
In a race that was stopped for 51 minutes because of rain, Alonso looked like he’d be overtaken by Sauber’s Sergio Perez until the Mexican driver ran off the track with six laps to go, giving the Ferrari enough of a gap to win.
Pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton, of McLaren, finished third ahead of Red Bull’s Mark Webber and Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen.