SunTrust Indy Challenge

Spiderman Sighting in Virgina
By Esteban Morales

June 25, 2005

     For the last few months it seems Spiderman has been keeping a very low profile going about his business behind the shadows of his fellow superheroes. In fact, not since last October had Spidey made a public appearance. Unsettled with life outside the spotlight, he made his triumphant return to the delight of thousands at the Richmond International Raceway.
After sustaining an injury about a week prior to the SunTrust Indy Challenge, Helio Castroneves made a thrilling return along with teammate Sam Hornish J.; Hornish headed the field with Castroneves taking the outside pole. Marlboro Team Penske took full advantage of its qualifying performance once the sun and the green flag dropped over the bullring. Hornish led through the opening stint of the race and only lost his lead after Scott Dixon collided with turn 2 on lap 40. While Hornish led most of the grid into pitlane, Rahal Letterman Racing elected not to pit any of its cars, all of which sat near the back end of the field.

     With the green unfurled Buddy Rice kept the Penske duo slotted behind as new leader Vitor Meira benefited from the situation and soon checked out. Rice began to fall off the pace however, and by lap 83 Castroneves and Hornish caught and passed Meira. Just a handful of laps later, rookie Ryan Briscoe moved up high on the difficult track and demolished his Target Chip Ganassi Racing machine. The front was shuffled once more as the leaders pitted while Dario Franchitti, Scott Sharp and Bryan Herta gambled on strategy.

     Castroneves and Hornish were not thwarted though; the familiar red and white cars threaded their way back to the front with Castroneves sitting in 2nd just before another caution flew for heavy contact between Meira and Tony Kanaan. Andretti Green Racing’s earlier gamble paid off momentarily as Franchitti led the field into pitlane now in sequence with the rest. Strategy or no strategy, Castroneves and his crew were determined to regain top spot in the pits knowing how difficult it is to pass on the tight bullring. The team did just that as Castroneves rocketed out of the pits with Franchitti in his mirrors. Just a lap after going green Hornish moved around Franchitti for 2nd. Hornish went from hero to zero just as quickly though and plowed his loose Dallara into turn 4 on lap 165.

     A 25 lap green stint, which Castroneves led, followed the yellow. It was interrupted when Roger Yasukawa brushed Scott Sharp sending him into the turn 2 SAFER Barrier. The track went back to green with just over 40 laps left to run. Castroneves dominated all remaining laps and just barely survived a late race caution that led up to an old-fashioned one lap Saturday night shootout to the checkers. Following his win, the Brazilian of course acquainted himself with some Virginian chain link.


1. Helio Castroneves
2. Dario Franchitti
3. Patrick Carpentier
4. Tomas Scheckter
5. Dan Wheldon
6. Alex Barron
7. Tomas Enge
8. Bryan Herta
9. Kosuke Matsuura
10. Danica Patrick
11. Buddy Rice
12. Ed Carpenter
13. Jimmy Kite
14. A.J. Foyt IV
15. Darren Manning
16. Roger Yasukawa
17. Scott Sharp
18. Sam Hornish Jr.
19. Tony Kanaan
20. Vitor Meira
21. Ryan Briscoe
22. Scott Dixon