He's won three times at Indy. He's won three times at TMS.
Izod IndyCar Series driver Helio Castroneves has to smile about that.
Neither is an easy place to win.
"Any track, especially when you have a series as competitive as we have, is tough. But I've won here three times, and man, let me tell you -- it's a lot of joy," he said Wednesday at Texas Motor Speedway, which hosts the Firestone 550 on Saturday night.
The 37-year-old Brazilian flashed his big smile again and shook his head, thinking about what it takes to win on TMS' 1 1/2-mile oval, which he last did in 2009.
"Because you've accomplished something that is very difficult," he said. "You're going flat-out over 220 miles per hour. You've got to be very smooth on the steering wheel. And it's a place where you get in the front straightaway, it's tough because you have two corners and a straightaway and you've got to keep going flat-out.
"And sometimes, if you miss a little bit, it can cause an accident -- I've also been in that scenario. It's very tough. But that's why you have a great time here. That's why you keep coming back."
Castroneves has reason to come back to TMS. He not only can pick up his fourth victory here, he can stay in the hunt for the series championship.
He sits in third place, two spots behind leader and teammate Will Power.
Team Penske dominated the first part of the schedule, winning the first four races. Castroneves won the season opener at St. Petersburg, and Power won the next three races.
Penske has a history of success at TMS, also. Combined, Penske drivers Castroneves, Power and Ryan Briscoe have won five times in Fort Worth, and Penske has seven wins in all here.
So Castroneves has reason to be confident of a good weekend.
"We have a great potential to be competitive," he said. "I just can't wait to be back again and go fast."
It is only the second chance for the IndyCar Series to compete on an oval this year. And TMS will be the first high-banked oval for the drivers since the fatal crash of Dan Wheldon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last October.
The drivers will be mindful of safety Saturday night, but Castroneves is eager to see how the series' new car -- redesigned with safety features, including a rear bumper to protect the open wheels -- can race on the oval. And if it compares to the performance at Indy.
Two weeks ago, the series set an Indianapolis Motor Speedway record for passes.
"The bumper, it sounds like it adds a lot of drag, so when you have one car riding right behind the other, it sucks the car behind and you're able to make a move," Castroneves said. "So here it will depend, because the straightaway is not so long, and as soon as you turn, you've got to have a good balanced car. Otherwise, you're not going to be able to make a move. You might have that scenario. It all depends on how the car is handling in the corner, and right now, I feel it's going to be competitive."
It's been three years since Castroneves won at Indy or Fort Worth. In 2009, he won in both places.
Naturally, he was asked which victories mean more.
"It's difficult to compare," he said. "The tradition at Indianapolis is so amazing. But it's cool to win here. The crowd is awesome. The place is unbelievable. When you come here, it's amazing people. It excites you to be here and have a race here. This place is really nice, and every time you see your name here, come on. It makes you feel like, 'I'm there.' You can't beat that. But certainly, Indianapolis has a lot of tradition behind it, and you can't compare it."
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7760