Castroneves Posts Fourth Victory In Indy 500

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 30 2021

Helio Castroneves win his fourth Indy 500 on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

INDIANAPOLIS – Helio Castroneves joined the ranks of INDYCAR royalty Sunday afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as only the fourth four-time winner in the 105-year history of the Indianapolis 500.

Castroneves sized-up Alex Palou over the final 19 laps around the famed 2.5-mile oval before completing the winning pass on the outside of Turn 1 on Lap 199 of the scheduled 200. That move allowed Castroneves to join A.J. Foyt Jr. (1961, 1964, 1967, 1977), Al Unser (1970, 1971, 1978, 1987) and Rick Mears (1979, 1984, 1988, 1991) as the only four-time champions of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

Castroneves _ who previously won the Indy 500 in 2001, 2002 and 2009 with Team Penske _ gave Meyer Shank Racing its first NTT IndyCar Series victory in his first start with the team based in Pataskala, Ohio. At 46 years, 20 days old, the popular Brazilian is the fourth-oldest winner in Indy 500 history behind Al Unser (47, 1987), the late Bobby Unser (47, 1981) and Emerson Fittipaldi (46, 1993).

“I can’t believe it,” Castroneves yelled after kneeling to lightly kiss the Yard of Bricks marking the start/finish line. That Indy 500 tradition was preceded by Castroneves’ signature victory celebration _ climbing the front stretch fence as “Spiderman.”

But the celebration hardly ended there. After removing his helmet, an emotional Castroneves jumped back onto the front stretch wall facing the grandstand and “conducted” a chorus of fans chanting his name. He bounded onto the pavement and jogged down the front straight, where he was greeted by hugs from MSR teammate Jack Harvey of Great Britain, several MSR crewmen as well as former Penske teammates and Indy 500 champs Will Power and Simon Pagenaud. Helio also exchanged hugs and words with Tim Cindric, the president of Roger Penske’s organization, which has won a record 18 Indy 500s.

And in a moment that amounted to Papal approval, Helio was greeted by and received a kiss on the head from 1969 Indy 500 champion and open-wheel legend Mario Andretti. 

“This is absolutely incredible,” Castroneves said when he and his No. 06 Honda were finally loaded atop the Speedway’s rising Victory Circle. “This stage is absolutely incredible. I love Indianapolis. The fans, they give me energy!

“I think I still got it, don’t you think? I couldn’t do this without my family and The Lord. The Lord has been by my side all the time.

“I tell you what. It’s not the end of it, it’s the beginning. I don’t know if it’s a good comparison, but Tom Brady won a Super Bowl, Phil (Mickelson) won The PGA and now here you go. The old guys still got it, kicking the young guys’ butts, teaching them a lesson.”

Indeed, Sunday’s start with MSR was the first of Helio’s six-race deal for the 2021 season with team co-owners Mike Shank and Jim Meyer. On Thursday, Castroneves insisted he was not done with INDYCAR after a three-year career in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Castroneves, co-champion with Ricky Taylor of IMSA’s 2020 Daytona Prototype International class, made it clear he is looking to return to the series fulltime.

“I think Helio deserves every chance to go for a fifth Indy 500 win and we’ll try to make that happen,” said Shank, seated next to Meyer during their post-race presser. “Everything he did was a chess match from Lap 150 on. He was calculated, that’s the kind of stuff we expected. And I want to mention our technical alliance with Andretti Autosport. I’m hoping this is the start of a multi-car program. But Helio winning is great for our sport.”

Castroneves’ margin of victory over Palou, driver of the No. 10 Honda fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing, was 0.4928-seconds. A 24-year-old native of Spain, Palou won the season-opener on Barber Motorsports Park’s natural terrain road-course in Birmingham, Ala.

Frenchman Pagenaud completed the podium in the No. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet and was followed by Pato O’Ward in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet. O’Ward, a native of Mexico, won Race 2 of a doubleheader weekend at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth earlier this month. Indianapolis resident Ed Carpenter, the series’ lone owner/driver, finished fifth in his No. 20 Chevrolet.

Castroneves, who started eighth in the 33-car field, led 20 laps during a race that saw Indy resident Conor Daly pace his first 40 laps around IMS in ECR’s No. 47 U.S. Air Force Chevy.

Pole-sitter and pre-race favorite Scott Dixon rallied to finish a lead-lap 17th following an unusual set of circumstances that began when Stefan Wilson of Great Britain lost control of his No. 25 Cusick Motorsports Honda fielded by Andretti Autosport on Lap 34. Dixon, running short of fuel at that point, could not refuel until pit road opened on Lap 37 and subsequently ran dry. Once Dixon’s No. 9 Honda was refueled, it would not start, likely due to vapor lock.

That put Dixon one lap down, and the six-time/reigning series champion spent the rest of race playing catch-up as Castroneves rolled to victory at an average speed of 190.690 mph _ fastest Indy 500 in history.


Results Sunday of the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 NTT INDYCAR SERIES event on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (8) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 200, Running
2. (6) Alex Palou, Honda, 200, Running
3. (26) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 200, Running
4. (12) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 200, Running
5. (4) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 200, Running
6. (23) Santino Ferrucci, Honda, 200, Running
7. (31) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 200, Running
8. (3) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 200, Running
9. (24) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 200, Running
10. (5) Tony Kanaan, Honda, 200, Running
11. (9) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 200, Running
12. (21) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 200, Running
13. (19) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 200, Running
14. (15) Takuma Sato, Honda, 200, Running
15. (22) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 200, Running
16. (2) Colton Herta, Honda, 200, Running
17. (1) Scott Dixon, Honda, 200, Running
18. (20) Jack Harvey, Honda, 200, Running
19. (25) Marco Andretti, Honda, 200, Running
20. (17) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 200, Running
21. (16) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 200, Running
22. (7) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 200, Running
23. (30) Dalton Kellett, Chevrolet, 199, Running
24. (29) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 199, Running
25. (13) Pietro Fittipaldi, Honda, 199, Running
26. (27) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 199, Running
27. (14) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 199, Running
28. (11) Ed Jones, Honda, 199, Running
29. (10) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 198, Running
30. (32) Will Power, Chevrolet, 197, Running
31. (33) Simona De Silvestro, Chevrolet, 169, Contact
32. (18) Graham Rahal, Honda, 118, Contact
33. (28) Stefan Wilson, Honda, 32, Contact

Race Statistics
Winner’s average speed:
190.690 mph
Time of Race: 2:37:19.3846
Margin of victory: 0.4928 of a second
Cautions: 2 for 18 laps
Lead changes: 35 among 13 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Herta, 1
VeeKay, 2-30
Herta, 31-32
Dixon, 33-35
Castroneves, 36-38
Herta, 39-48
VeeKay, 49
Daly, 50-70
Castroneves, 71-76
Palou, 77
O’Ward, 78
Rahal, 79-81
VeeKay, 82-83
Daly, 84-102
O’Ward, 103-113
Rahal, 114-118
Palou, 119-124
Castroneves, 125-126
O’Ward, 127-130
Palou, 131-147
Castroneves, 148-149
O’Ward, 150
Sato, 151-156
Rosenqvist, 157
Dixon, 158-161
Palou, 162-168
Castroneves, 169-171
Palou, 172
Pagenaud, 173-175
Karam, 176-177
Ferrucci, 178-179
Rosenqvist, 180-192
Sato, 193
Castroneves, 194-195
Palou, 196-198
Castroneves, 199-200

NTT INDYCAR SERIES point standings: Palou 248, Dixon 212, O’Ward 211, Pagenaud 201, VeeKay 191, Newgarden 184, Herta 154, Rahal 148, McLaughlin 143, Ericsson 138.


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 30 2021
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