Helio Castroneves’ hopes of climbing up in standings end with wreck at Fontana

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Helio Castroneves’ hope of moving up in the IndyCar point standings came to an early end in Saturday’s MAV TV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

Castroneves had led the most laps of any driver when, on Lap 136 of the 250-lap event around the two-mile facility, Castroneves’ left front tire touched the right rear fender well of Ryan Briscoe, sending the Brazilian driver spinning.

Castroneves was running third and closing in on race leader Graham Rahal and No. 2-running Tony Kanaan when it appeared Briscoe moved up slightly in front of Castroneves and their cars made contact.

Points leader Juan Pablo Montoya barely missed being collected by his spinning Team Penske teammate.

Castroneves was the only driver who suffered significant damage, as he went for a spin upon contact and backed his Team Penske ride into the inside retaining wall. His team took the car to the garage to see what repairs could be made and get Castroneves back on the racetrack, 14 laps off the lead lap.

His car was brought back onto pit road on Lap 151, but less than four laps later, Castroneves came back onto pit road and climbed out of his car, his day apparently over for good.

“Unfortunately (Graham) Rahal was coming up on me, and he really squeezed a bit on the top,” Castroneves told NBCSN. “I was in a position so I started lifting, I didn’t want to crash. Dude you don’t need to do that. Then people start chopping, then Will and Briscoe closed it up. Briscoe didn’t need to do that. He turned into me. It was a long ride sideways, but the AAA car was unbelievable.”

Briscoe suffered minor damage and pitted on the following lap to have the rear fender well replaced. He subsequently was brought into the pits after the restart to serve a penalty for making contact with Castroneves.

Castroneves came into the race ranked fourth in the IndyCar driver standings, 52 points behind series leader Juan Pablo Montoya, but just 25 points behind No. 2-ranked Will Power and only seven points behind No. 3-ranked Scott Dixon.

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