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Detroit — Team Penske has the hardware — Juan Pablo Montoya won the Indianapolis 500 last weekend and Will Power is the defending IndyCar series champion.

But make no mistake, Helio Castroneves is the face of the team.

"He wants to win every race and he's the ultimate team player," said Roger Penske, who owns the four-car team of Castroneves, Power, Montoya and Simon Pagenaud. "He was obviously disappointed he didn't have the car (at Indianapolis), and we probably adjusted him the wrong way."

But one race won't define Castroneves, not when he's done just about everything else on the circuit — but win a series title.

He's a three-time Indianapolis 500 winner (2001, 2002, 2009), all coming since he joined Penske in 2000.

He's looking for his 30th career victory this weekend in the Dual in Detroit doubleheader on Belle Isle, a place where he earned his first career victory in 2000, climbing the fence in celebration.

He won "Dancing with the Stars" in 2007.

The only thing missing? A series title.

But even at 40, Castroneves' passion for racing and winning hasn't wavered.

"I feel pretty strong and I definitely want this championship," he said. "After Indianapolis is over, you always focus on the championship and that's the natural way.

"I look back and I have the same energy and excitement that I had 15 or 16 years ago and that's the beauty of it, meaning I'm still passionate, still going strong and I still have the fire inside me to keep competing against those guys and showing that age is just a number."

Montoya leads the points race with 272, 25 ahead of Power, with Scott Dixon (Target/Chip Ganassi Racing) at 211, five ahead of Castroneves.

But when he talks about turning 40, he'll always have a frightening memory.

Just days after his birthday May 10, his No. 3 Shell V-Power Nitro Team Penske Chevrolet hit a wall during practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and flipped before landing on its wheels. He escaped injury despite the skyward ride.

"The most incredible thing was when I heard this voice from the sky saying, 'Are you OK?' and it was Roger," Castroneves said, smiling. "You know, in the Air Force, they have like Code Orange, Code Red ... I had a Code Brown moment.

"It was a very weird sensation, I've been upside down unfortunately before so I was expecting a big impact from the wall and from the lifting on coming down so surprisingly, thank God I would say it was a smooth ride."

Now that Indianapolis is in the past, Castroneves is looking forward to Belle Isle — with good reason.

In 13 career races at Belle Isle — IndyCar, CART and Indy Lights — Castroneves has three pole positions and three victories.

And this year, he believes he's got another shot at the top.

"We have a very strong car and we've showed it in several races," Castroneves said. "Hopefully, with the new changes they did on the track with the surface it will be better. ... We're winning so that's the good news.

"Last year, we ended up winning after starting from 16th, so that proved that this is a place where you can pass, this place is exciting. But my plan is to run from the front."

And maybe a victory — or two — will be just the push he needs to finally add the series title to his glowing resume.

"It's always important when you have double races, double points and you want to make sure you maximize in those areas," Castroneves said. "Obviously, like I said we feel very strong, especially the group No. 3 (his car) and we're going for it. We can't play around and be conservative at this point."

david.goricki@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/DavidGoricki

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