BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Helio Castroneves’ strategies were all about preservation: First the fuel and then the lead.
Castroneves deftly managed both tasks and held off Scott Dixon to win the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on Sunday, coasting to the finish line after coming off caution with two laps to go.
The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner took over in the stretch run when Marco Andretti headed to pit road with seven laps to go.
“I felt like I had a better car than Marco but unfortunately, I just couldn’t pass him,” Castroneves said. “And I was just patient and waiting for an opportunity. I guess we were able to be smart enough to save a lot of fuel. Towards the end, we just had a yellow flag. I didn’t ask for that, especially when you have Scott Dixon and those guys behind you. I just decided to make sure not to give any opportunities for those guys, and that’s what I did.”
He won by just over half a second over Dixon and nobody else was closer than 7 seconds to the lead, making it a two-man chase at the end. He didn’t offer any opening for Dixon to get by him on a narrow track that offers few easy spots to pass and makes fuel strategy as important as any on-track manoeuvres.