MADISON, Illinois -- The pendulum better known as the Indy Racing League point standings continued to swing Aug. 25 after Gil de Ferran earned his second victory of the season at the Gateway Indy 250.
Helio Castroneves took a one-point lead in the standings over Marlboro Team Penske teammate de Ferran by finishing second by 2.1024 seconds at Gateway International Raceway. It's the first time Castroneves has led the points since after the Ameristar Casino Indy 200 on July 7 at Kansas Speedway.
It was the third one-two finish this season for Marlboro Team Penske. Both of de Ferran's wins have come from the MBNA Pole, as he also achieved the feat at the Radisson Indy 225 in June at Pikes Peak International Raceway.
"I tell you it feels good, but there is a lot of work to be done," de Ferran said. "Helio is driving 100 percent, so is Sam (Hornish Jr.). Alex (Barron) was also very strong today. Felipe (Giaffone), I think, had a bit of bad luck.
"There is still a lot of work to do. I have a lot of respect for my competitors."
Two-time CART champion de Ferran averaged 143.711 mph in a race slowed by caution periods four times for 24 laps. He earned $131,600.
de Ferran drove past teammate Castroneves for the lead exiting Turn 4 on Lap 184 of the 200-lap event and pulled away in the last 10 laps for a 2.1024-second victory in the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.
"He was much better planning in the traffic, and that's the way he went by me," Castroneves said of de Ferran. "Gil, what a guy. I had a lot of fun racing against him. He is fun and very fast. It was his day today, so let's keep working hard because this championship's not over yet."
Alex Barron finished third in the No. 44 Rayovac Blair Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, with rookie Buddy Rice fourth in the No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.
Defending series champion Sam Hornish Jr., who led Castroneves by four points entering this event, fell to third in points after finishing fifth in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone. Handling problems plagued his car, and a stall while trying to exit the pits on his last stop cost vital track position.
Hornish trails leader Castroneves by eight points entering the next event, the Delphi Indy 300 on Sept. 8 at Chicagoland Speedway. Hornish held the points lead for just one race, taking the lead from de Ferran after finishing second Aug. 11 at Kentucky.
Meanwhile, Felipe Giaffone's championship aspirations took a serious dent, as he finished 21st in the No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone due to engine failure after 106 laps. Giaffone remained fourth in the standings, but he fell 46 points behind leader Castroneves.
"For sure, it hurts, but we still have two races to go," Giaffone said. "Now we have to depend on the other guys and see how good they do."
Barron appeared to have the fastest car in the second half of the race. He dashed past Castroneves for the lead with an outside move in Turn 4 on Lap 119 and pulled out to a 5.1-second lead over Castroneves on Lap 140.
1999 IRL champion Greg Ray brushed the wall in Turn 2 in the No. 41 A.J. Foyt Racing/Harrah's Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone on Lap 145, triggering the final caution period of the day.
Barron was second behind Castroneves after the ensuing pit stops. On the restart on Lap 151, Barron dove hard into the tight Turn 1 of the tricky 1.25-mile oval in an attempt to pass Castroneves for the lead.
Instead, the bold move almost cost Barron his race.
Barron's car carried too much speed into the turn and pushed up the track between Turns 1 and 2, nearly hitting the wall in Turn 2. Barron collected the car and returned to the racing groove in fifth place.
He tried to reel in de Ferran and Castroneves late in the race, pulling to within one second in lapped traffic on Lap 190. But the traffic quickly parted for the Marlboro Team Penske duo, and they pulled away over the last nine laps.
"I just got a little high in (Turn) 1 and (Turn) 2, and by that point in the race, there's a lot of marbles," Barron said. "The front end took off, and I was just lucky not to hit the wall, but we made a comeback. I think we had the car to beat today."
Rookies Vitor Meira and Laurent Redon were unhurt during a two-car accident on Lap 99, while 1999 IRL champion Greg Ray was unhurt after brushing the outside wall in Turn 2 on Lap 145.
1. (1) Gil de Ferran, Dallara-Chevrolet, 200, $131,600
2. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevrolet, 200, $87,050
3. (14) Alex Barron, Dallara-Chevrolet, 200, $79,750
4. (15) Buddy Rice, Dallara-Infiniti, 200, $57,800
5. (2) Sam Hornish Jr., Dallara-Chevrolet, 200, $51,800
6. (8) Robbie Buhl, G Force-Infiniti, 200, $46,200
7. (16) Al Unser Jr., Dallara-Chevrolet, 200, $45,500
8. (13) Raul Boesel, Dallara-Infiniti, 200, $43,900
9. (4) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Chevrolet, 198, $45,900
10. (17) Eddie Cheever Jr., Dallara-Infiniti, 198, $43,300
11. (19) Airton Daré, Dallara-Chevrolet, 197, $41,600
12. (21) Robby McGehee, G Force-Chevrolet, 197, $18,500
13. (5) Jeff Ward, G Force-Chevrolet, 197, $39,400
14. (20) Eliseo Salazar, Dallara-Chevrolet, 196, $38,200
15. (18) Buddy Lazier, Dallara-Chevrolet, 191, $37,100
16. (23) George Mack, G Force-Chevrolet, 184, $36,000
17. (24) Hideki Noda, G Force-Chevrolet, 184, $12,800
18. (10) Scott Sharp, Dallara-Chevrolet, 164, $34,800
19. (22) Greg Ray, Dallara-Chevrolet, 138, handling, $11,700
20. (9) Sarah Fisher, G Force-Infiniti, 109, mechanical, $10,600
21. (7) Felipe Giaffone, G Force-Chevrolet, 106, engine, $32,600
22. (6) Laurent Redon, Dallara-Infiniti, 98, accident, $32,600
23. (12) Billy Boat, Dallara-Infiniti, 74, gearbox, $32,600
24. (11) Tony Renna, Dallara-Chevrolet, 9, mechanical, $10,600
25. (DNS) Anthony Lazzaro, Dallara-Chevrolet, 0, did not start, $32,600
Winner's average speed: 143.711 mph.
Time of race: 1:44:22.5736.
Margin of victory: 2.1024 of a second.
Cautions: 4 for 24 laps.
Lead changes: 10 among 5 drivers.
Lap leaders: de Ferran 1-57, Castroneves 58-60, Giaffone 61-62, Boesel 63-65, de Ferran 66-69, Castroneves 70-98, de Ferran 99-101, Castroneves 102-118, Barron 119-147, Castroneves 148-183, de Ferran 184-200.