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“It’s fate, I think,” he said. “I guess you have to go through it to make you realize what you need to do, to make a point or come together and we chose to be as close as we could as a team.”

Castroneves needed a change after a dismal 2011 left him without a win for the first time since 2000. Things were so bad, he even wound up 17th at Indy, the second-worst finish of his 500 career. Things were so out of sync that Castroneves drew a $30,000 fine in September after referring to then IndyCar race director Brian Barnhart as a “circus clown” on Twitter.

It wasn’t the funny man those around Gasoline Alley were accustomed to seeing.

So Castroneves changed the script by spending more time during the offseason with his engineer and around racing than he had in nearly a decade.

Part of the reason, clearly, was to get a jump on the new Indy cars. The other part was that Castroneves expected better results in 2012.

The decision has paid big dividends.

Castroneves ended his 18-race winless streak by climbing the fence at St. Petersburg in the season-opener, then took the pole at Birmingham. With finishes of first, third, 13th and fourth in this season’s first four races, Castroneves has come to Indy second in points, trailing his teammate, Power, by 45 and is one of the favorites Sunday, too.

“I think he needed a good start because that’s always the key to getting your head in the right place,” Power said. “The tough thing about racing is that if you have a bad start, you start trying to do things you shouldn’t. When you get the points lead, or close to the points lead, it keeps you motivated more than if you’re way off it.”

With the dominant Chevrolet engines, Power and Castroneves have dominated the season. They combined to win all four races this season and three of the first four poles.

Teammate Ryan Briscoe joined the party last weekend when he captured Indy’s pole shootout last by a mere 9.168 inches _ the smallest margin in 500 qualifying history.

But as fans watch Castroneves‘ historic attempt Sunday, the three-time 500 winner will have something else on his mind _ just scaling the fence one more time.

“We don’t put the emphasis on that (fourth win),” he said. “We just want to be as competitive as we can so we have a shot at winning. After that, then we can start talking about the fourth win.”