SAO PAULO (AP) — Helio Castroneves can't count on home advantage against rival and teammate Will Power at the Sao Paulo 300 on Sunday.
Castroneves, the IndyCar Series leader, is one of the home-crowd favorites in Brazil. But it's his Penske teammate from Australia who arrives as the heavy favorite to win on the streets of Sao Paulo after capturing all three races at the temporary Anhembi track.
While Castroneves has had the best start of his career after three straight top-10 finishes, he will have to get past the "King of Sao Paulo" to improve his chances of staying atop the drivers' standings following Sunday's race.
"We will try to stop him this time," Castroneves said about Power. "But if we can't do that, hopefully we can at least keep the points lead."
There should be even more challengers to Castroneves' lead this time, as three drivers have won this season. Two of them celebrated victory for the first time — Takuma Sato and James Hinchcliffe. Ryan Hunter-Reay was the other winner.
"There's been a lot of competition this year, even more than in the past, so it's hard to say there's a favorite for Sunday's race," Castroneves said. "But you can't avoid talking about my teammate as the top contender; there's no doubt he has been really successful here in the past."
Power was hardly challenged in Brazil last year, leading the most laps and winning from the pole position. He also dominated in Brazil in 2011 and in the inaugural race in 2010.
But the Australian has had an unusually poor start to his season on road and street circuits. He is winless in the series since his victory in Brazil last year, 14 races ago. He has had only one top-five finish this year and is eighth in the drivers' standings, 37 point behind Castroneves.
"The first three races have been interesting," Power said. "We've had the pace this year but haven't been able to put it together. I've had some success here at this track, but the competition will be tight. It will be tough to get a good result this weekend."
Power said finishing well in Brazil is crucial to put him in position to start fighting for the championship.
"My mindset for this race is the same as I have every weekend," Power said. "I need a good weekend to score points for the championship and get the most out of everything. I'll do my absolute best this weekend."