FOUNTAIN, Colo. (AP) -- Nothing stopped Gil de Ferran -- not rain, not hail, not a fast field.
He earned his first Indy Racing League victory Sunday, ending a recent string of misfortune.
In a race that was stopped for 51 minutes because of the fickle weather, de Ferran led all but eight laps as he and Penske teammate Helio Castroneves repeated their 1-2 finish in qualifying.
De Ferran, one of only four drivers to win back-to-back CART championships, moved to the IRL circuit this season along with Team Penske and showed he is ready to resume his dominance.
"The car was absolutely fantastic today," de Ferran said. "It was perfect over the last three-quarters of the race. It's one of the best oval cars I've ever driven. It was good in traffic. I could drive low or high. The guys did a great job in the pits.
"We've been knocking on the door since the beginning of the year, and I'm glad to get one under my belt."
Team owner Roger Penske said de Ferran "needed that. He's had some good runs, and we've kind of let him down."
De Ferran ran out of fuel on the last lap while leading at Nazareth on April 21, and a wheel came off his car while he was among the leaders late in the Indianapolis 500.
"I wasn't getting frustrated," de Ferran insisted. "We've run strong every time. Things just weren't really going our way. You saw what happened at Nazareth and Indianapolis. Helio beat me on one of the restarts at Phoenix and I eventually gave the race to him. That's the way racing is."
De Ferran finished 1.4 seconds ahead of Castroneves, winner of the last two Indianapolis 500s and this season's IRL points leader, and 2.0 seconds ahead of Sam Hornish Jr.
"Helio and Hornish were very fast," de Ferran said. "I knew my advantage wasn't that great."
Castroneves said second place "is very good. I'm happy for Gil. He was very strong."
"There were times when I could get a little bit of a run on them," said Hornish, referring to de Ferran and Castroneves. "But it didn't work out."
Billy Boat led six laps and Castroneves two -- the only laps in the 225-lap event not led by the winner. De Ferran was the front-runner over the final 186 laps on Pikes Peak International Raceway's mile oval.
Felipe Giaffone finished fourth, followed by Scott Sharp, Al Unser Jr. and rookie Laurent Redon.
De Ferran, who captured his second pole of the season on Saturday, led the first 31 laps until the first of five caution flags.
The race was red-flagged on the 34th lap because of rain and hail that began falling several laps earlier.
Crew members huddled under their pit boards at the edge of track, and many fans sought cover from the hail, which persisted only for a few minutes.
Robbie Buhl, running ninth, was the first mechanical casualty when his engine blew on the 28th lap.
All drivers except for Boat pitted on the yellow, which proved to be a break for de Ferran, whose car suddenly felt "very loose" just before the caution flag. His crew made a wing adjustment to correct the handling problem.
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