Indianapolis – Helio Castroneves joined elite company on Sunday by winning his record-tying fourth Indianapolis 500 after making a late move to take the lead.
Castroneves went to the front for the final time with just two laps to go and held off Alex Palou for the victory. He joined Al Unser Sr., Rick Mears and A.J. Foyt as four-time winners of the race.
“This stage is absolutely incredible,” Castroneves, who won his other 500s while driving for Team Penske, said from Victory Circle. “I love Indianapolis. The fans, they give me energy. This is absolutely incredible.”
The victory, in the No. 06 Meyer Shank Racing Honda, came by 0.4928 second over Palou, who was driving for Chip Ganassi Racing. Castroneves flashed four fingers in the cockpit of his car and put his hand on his helmet immediately after crossing the finish line.
“Oh man, it hurts, it hurts round here,” Palou said while pointing to his heart. “This is the Indy 500. I cannot be angry about finishing second, but we had the car to win, we had the best car.”
Castroneves also won the race in 2001, 2002 and 2009. The man they call “Spiderman” because of his signature fence climbs after victories, is driving just a six-race schedule this season for Meyer Shank.
He was removed from a full-time IndyCar cockpit by Penske after the 2017 season. He has spent the last three seasons racing for Penske in the IMSA sports car series.
Sunday was his first IndyCar race of the season and may help him step back into the series on a full-time basis in the future.
“It’s not the end of it, it’s the beginning,” Castroneves said. “I don’t know if this a good comparison or not but Tom Brady won the Super Bowl … and now here we go.”
The victory allowed the 46-year-old from Brazil to climb the fence on the front stretch one more time and share the moment with the fans at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. An estimated crowd of 135,000 was announced after last year’s delayed race was run behind closed doors.
It was considered the largest crowd for a sporting event since COVID-19 restrictions began in March 2020.
Simon Pagenaud finished third, Pato O’Ward was fourth and while Ed Carpenter was fifth. Defending champion Takuma Sato was 14th.
“Two more laps would have been fun,” said Pagenaud, the 2019 winner.
Pagenaud moved up in the season standings with his finish.
“I just want to win Indy,” the Frenchman said. “I really don’t care about the championship. This is the one place in the world, this is the one race, you want to win. And second, third, it doesn’t matter. It’s just first place.”
O’Ward, who led 17 laps, said he thought he had a shot, too.
“I really think we did a perfect race,” said O’Ward, who got his first series win in Texas this year. “I don’t think we could have done anything better. We just needed to be faster at the end.”
Palou and Castroneves battled for the lead over the final 25 laps. Two other drivers were in front of them but needed pit stops to finish. O’Ward was right behind with Pagenaud moving in toward the leaders with 12 laps to go.
With 16 laps remaining, Palou passed Castroneves and with seven to go Castroneves moved back in front. Two laps later, Palou took the lead.
With two laps remaining, Castroneves blew past Palou once more while approaching the first turn, successfully contending with a crowd of cars in front of him.
“It was a good battle with Helio,” Palou said. “And I think it’s better when you lose against the best in the business so, good job Helio.
“I didn’t let him pass but once you get the good run, there is nothing you can do.”
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