- Cullman, Alabama

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June 12, 2013

AROUND THE TRACK: Elliotts, Burtons make it family affair


HOLLY POND — WON'T BE WINLESS: Helio Castroneves so much wants to win his first open-wheel championship that he would have been willing to go through an entire season without winning a race to make that happen.

The Team Penske driver, in his 13th IndyCar season after four years in CART, won't have to.

"If it takes more second places than firsts to win the championship, then sign me in," Castroneves said last week.

Then he led the final 132 laps at Texas for his fourth career victory at the track. That also put him in sole possession of the season points lead, breaking a tie with Marco Andretti, now 22 points back.

There are still 11 races left, and the series is on the second of four consecutive ovals Saturday at the Milwaukee Mile.

"We can't stop now, because the championship is still wide open," said Castroneves, the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and the IndyCar season runner-up in 2002 and 2008.

Castroneves got the first victory of the season for Penske with his ninth top-five finish in 16 Texas starts.

"For us, we want to win races. It doesn't matter at this point who is who," Castroneves said. "I know the press itself has to write stories and (the Penske drought) is over now, but I don't feel any pressure. I feel pressure to go out there and perform the best, and when you have the opportunity, you have to go for it."

SIX-PACK OF WINNERS: Through eight IndyCar races, there have been seven different winners from six teams.

"Yeah, it's been amazing. Any weekend, it could be any driver in this series," Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay said. "I would say 15 to 20 drivers, any weekend could be theirs. ... You go into every race thinking you can win it. There's not a whole lot or other series out there that's like that. It's great to see all the changeups."

Six different teams have won the last six races, with Team Penske joining the group at Texas last weekend.

Andretti drivers James Hinchcliffe and Hunter-Reay won the first two races before Takuma Sato took A.J. Foyt to Victory Lane in Long Beach. Then came another win by Hinchcliffe.

As for Milwaukee, where the series is this week, the defending champ is Hunter-Reay.

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