Helio Castroneves joined the big leagues by winning the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday for the fourth time in his career.
The Brazilian veteran becomes only the fourth rider in history to accomplish the feat, after legends of the specialty AJ Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears.
Hired as a freelance writer for the Meyer Shank Racing team, Castroneves grabbed the lead with just two laps to go at the expense of Spaniard Alex Palou, whom he beat by half a second over the course of arrival.
Frenchman Simon Pagenaud, former Castroneves teammate at Penske and winner of this annual classic in 2019, placed third.
After this rather unexpected victory, Castroneves left his car and climbed the fence in front of the main stand, as is his habit.
“I love racing in Indianapolis,” said the 46-year-old. I especially want to thank my team for trusting me. Words fail me to describe my feelings. “
Nicknamed the … spider-man, he greeted an audience won over in advance, a year after the ordeal was presented behind closed doors due to the pandemic.
“The amateurs were a source of inspiration for me and they gave me a lot of energy. It was very motivating to see them again in such large numbers. “
Around 135,000 spectators witnessed this memorable victory. An assistance which represented 40 percent of the total capacity of the famous motorsport complex.
The fastest in history
Marked by only two yellow flags, a record, this 105e edition of the Indianapolis 500 Miles was the fastest in history.
Castroneves ended his run after 2 hours, 37 minutes and 19 seconds, just over two minutes short of the previous mark set by compatriot Tony Kanaan in 2013.
What’s more, the winner set a record with a second win 20 years apart. Indeed, his first victory was in 2001. He also won in 2002 and 2009.
Too bad for Dixon
Holder of the leading position, Scott Dixon was not able to stay in first place for very long.
The New Zealander saw his hopes of winning the race a second time (after 2008) soar when, on his first pit stop, he suffered from a fuel supply boredom.
The race was no more fruitful for the two Canadians at the start. James Hinchcliffe ranked at 21e rank 40 seconds behind the leader, while Dalton Kellett had to settle for 23e place, even conceding a round to the winner.
Quadruple Indy 500 winners
- A.J. Foyt : 1961, 1964, 1967 and 1977
- Al Unser father: 1970, 1971, 1978 and 1987
- Rick Mears : 1979, 1984, 1988 and 1991
- Helio Castroneves: 2001, 2002, 2009 and 2021