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Castroneves wins IndyCar opener, pays tribute to Wheldon

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Helio Castroneves used a bold pass of Scott Dixon to win the IndyCar season opener through the streets of St. Petersburg, where he celebrated with a tribute to the late Dan Wheldon.

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 for Target Chip Ganassi Racing in a Honda. He was also runner-up to Castroneves in both 2006 and 2007. Ryan Hunter-Reay was third for Andretti Autosport, and gave Chevrolet two spots on the podium.

Both Dixon and Hunter-Reay spoke of Wheldon after the race.

"Most of all we are missing Dan," Hunter-Reay said. "That wound is still fresh, and this race would have been better with him in it."

Pole-sitter Will Power failed to overcome a decision to pit early for gas and finished seventh.

Former Formula One star Rubens Barrichello was 17th in his IndyCar debut.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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