Helio Castroneves’ Fourth 500 Win Adds to Indy Lure

All things considered, Helio Castroneves made for a magical moment at Indy. (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish)

All things considered, Helio Castroneves made for a magical moment at Indy. (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish)

Simply put, 46-year-old Helio Castroneves joined an exclusive club following his Indianapolis 500 victory on Sunday (May 30). In this case, Castroneves became the latest member of the “Four-Time Club” at Indianapolis.

Certainly, Helio Castroneves’ journey toward his fourth Indianapolis 500 win was a journey. By all means, Castroneves duplicated the feats of Al Unser Sr., A.J. Foyt and Rick Mears with some hard work.

Additionally, 12 years of frustration and adventurous times at the 2.5-mile superspeedway added to Castroneves’ pursuit.

First, consider the change of scenery for Castroneves. Primarily, the Brazilian moved to Meyer Shank Racing ahead of this year’s Indianapolis 500. Significantly, Castroneves pursued his first Indianapolis 500 win in a non-Team Penske entry, his home for the past 20 years.

Previously, Castroneves reigned supreme in 2001, ’02 and ’09. In fact, following the third win, the prospects of a fourth victory came to the forefront.

However, the excitable Castroneves finished ninth, 17th, 10th, sixth, second (2014 and ’17), seventh, 11th, 27th, 18th and 11th in his previous starts. Namely, last Sunday’s 500 provided some motorsports and sports magic.

The Race
Here, Helio Castroenves races another lap closer to another Indianapolis 500 win. (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish)

Here, Helio Castroenves races another lap closer to another Indianapolis 500 win. (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish)

Still, the charismatic racer felt confident about his chances after starting eighth. Initially, Castroneves took the lead for the first time on lap 39 before retaking the top spot on lap 71.

Indeed, the 25-time NTT INDYCAR Series race winner found himself in position for the win in the final seven laps. Chiefly, he faced a formidable challenger in 24-year-old Alex Palou.

Suddenly, the 105th Indianapolis 500 became a battle between a rising start and a living legend or youth versus aggression.

After passing two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Takuma Sato on lap 193, Castroneves surrendered the lead to Palou on lap 196. The narrative changed a bit as the young Chip Ganassi Racing sensation seemed within sight of winning INDYCAR’s biggest race.

Sure, Castroneves’ hair may have a bit of gray. But his patented exuberance and sage experience came to his advantage.

Coming off turn four, Castroneves drafted off Palou’s No. 10 Dallara/Honda. Darting to Palou’s outside, Castroneves zipped past the young Spaniard for the lead on lap 199.

Somewhat mirroring Mears’ daring winning pass over Michael Andretti in 1991, Castroneves would not relinquish the lead. Not even lapped traffic deterred Castroneves’ efforts.

Go ahead and jump! (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish)

Go ahead and jump! (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish)

In exciting fashion, Castroneves won his fourth Indy 500 with a jubilant Mike Shank jumping on the pit road wall. Significantly, Castroneves’s fourth win brought a flurry of happiness and jubilation.

Yes, he climbed the catchfence along the frontstretch with his No. 06 SiriusXM Meyer Shank Racing crewmates. He embraced current and former teammates. Without doubt, he took in his latest success by running nearly half the length of the frontstretch, waving to fans.

Finally making his way to Indianapolis’ famed victory lane, Castroneves’ joy could not be contained.

Nonetheless, “Spiderman” celebrated his win as if it was his first one back in 2001. Castroneves chimed in with a message in victory lane.

Castroneves Chimes In
After winning the 105th Indianapolis 500, Helio Castroneves scaled the catchfence. (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish)

After winning the 105th Indianapolis 500, Helio Castroneves scaled the catchfence. (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish)

“It’s not the end,” Castroneves said. “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. We’re teaching them a lesson.”

In like manner, Castroneves, who bested one of the series’ best young racers, praised his team with his crowning achievement.

“What a great team effort,” he said. “Everyone was in sync. We didn’t make any mistakes. Number four – what a moment. I’m just so honored to be a part of this amazing group with A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears. This is absolutely a dream come true.”

Consider last year’s Indianapolis 500. The race, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was the first without spectators. An empty garden for one of motorsports’ grandest races.

Ultimately, Castroneves took in the moment by acknowledging the most important aspect of the race – the fans.

“I love Indianapolis,” he observed. “The fans, they give me energy! I’m serious.”

Rob Tiongson

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes.

From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat.

Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Communications at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's just as happy to be a Texan.

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