Just over a month before this year’s Indianapolis 500 race, Helio Castroneves won a record fourth Indy 500 victory, standing with his hands on his head on the 2nd lap of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, barely looking at the now-destroyed car. 2021. It took hundreds of hours to upgrade this car. However, a leak in the pit-exit lane sent Kastroneves (and two other Indy 500 winners) to the wall on test day, returning the team to first place in the world’s biggest motor race.
The Meyron Shank Racing team of Castroneves, where the 22-year-old open-wheel veteran joined for the first time last year, rebuilt the car last week until it was “perfect” for the start of the 500 training sessions.
After two attempts at sorting, Castroneves felt far from perfect, stepped off the throttle, but completed his four-lap attempt with the threat of approaching rain.
“There’s a line between courage and stupidity, and we were really playing with it,” NBC Sports said.
The Brazilian, who turned 47 on May 10, is the first five-time Indianapolis 500 winner of the sport and is fighting for the first consecutive victory since 2001 and 2002. From 27th place, IndyCar will move some of the fastest, most competitive areas in its history – including Alex Palou, who lost last year’s 500-second race but continues to win the series championship. It is one of the only achievements that Kastronevs could not achieve.
This year, the 25-year-old 106th Indianapolis will start from the middle of the front row in the 500. The Spaniard, who never competed in the ovals before joining the IndyCar series in 2020, is one of the favorites to win the race on Sunday; It is one of the most consistent cars since training began on May 17. He is also second in the series championship.
However, IMS does not matter how old you are or how experienced you are.
“At the end of the day,” Kastroneves said, “this place, Indianapolis, will choose who wins.”
Palou’s first Indy 500 in 2020 ended in an accident after 121 laps. But in last year’s Chip Ganassi Racing, he made it to the top nine qualifiers in the pole vault. Fearing that his time would not be good enough, he forced his teammates to let him run for a second time. They agreed – and he crashed.
“I felt very bad for pushing the team,” he said. “It’s not too much to heat up, but it was more like pushing the limits and not having enough power for those conditions,” he said. … I knew it was my best car – the best front wing, the best rear wing, the base, the best of everything and you hit it. And it’s like, no, I’m done. “
However, his team repaired the main car, Palou remained in the top nine and started sixth and second in the starting lineup. Kastroneves, who has won 500 poles four times, started eighth. On the day of the race, they both took the lead in the 405-mile distance, took the first two places 38 laps before the end, played cat-and-mouse with the leader, and cycled forward after the pit stops, taking the lead in Palou. There are five rounds left until the end of Kastronevez.
“I never thought I’d be leading the Indy 500 in recent laps,” said Palou, who is 35 laps ahead and five laps before the end. “There is always a race, the last 30 laps are so exciting that there are usually two or three drivers fighting back and forth and you don’t know who will win.
“And there is always one [driver] it thinks ahead and not one, it was me, but it was awesome to be in this situation, hey 10 laps left and only Helio and you. And it was like oh wow. I felt really good. It was something I had never done before, it was the first time I had won an oval race – the biggest race – but it was good. It felt special. ”
Two laps before the end of the train, Kastroneves moved from the edge down to the front and advanced to the 1st turn.
“I did not think about it [Alex’s] age or experience, ”Kastroneves said. I read it correctly. And it worked.
“I do not think so [Alex] did something wrong. … I knew how strong he was, he was definitely stronger than me in terms of leading the race. So I couldn’t keep playing because it would bring us more people. … In this situation, I lost several races with experience. Thus, it is not just a matter of experience; That’s what a car can do and drive. “
A few days after the race, Palou tried to meet the 500 newly elected champions.
“I would say you were waiting [to make the pass]? ” Palou said. “And he just said, ‘You never know.’ This is the best answer he can find.
“He didn’t have a chance, I think if he had won another first, it would have hurt more. If you lose to Helio, then I’m sorry, he’s 20 years more experienced than me. Therefore, it was not intended to happen. “
Twelve years after winning Indy for the third time, Castroneves crossed the finish line, got out of the car, climbed the fence with his team, sobbed, and ran back from the front in celebration of the victory for centuries.
“First [Indy 500 win] you will never forget, ”he said. “I was so eager to win my first oval race that you had to wait a minute. This place has changed my name.
“Second, many people failed [win multiple 500s] more than a hundred years, and alas, I can’t believe I could adapt to that. Third, I didn’t know I was going to race, and suddenly I visited the victory circle. (In 2009, Castroneves was temporarily replaced by Will Power of Australia in the Penske Team, and he was acquitted.) It took a long time for us to get the latter, and people started doing it. think, it will not be so. And that probably added more fuel to my fire to prove them wrong. … And I believe that all of us on the team believe that this should happen, and I feel even stronger progress. ”
With his 2021 victory, Castroneves joined AJ Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears as the only drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 four times. Eight weeks after the Kastroneves victory, he was able to sit down for a special broadcast with four timer clubs; Unser died in December (Unser’s brother Bobby, a three-time Indy 500 winner, died in May 2021).
“To be able to practice [it with him]he was one of my beginners [instructors, along with Johnny Rutherford]”I will definitely live those precious moments that we live in my mind and heart forever,” Kastroneves said.
Did he think about the meaning of the fifth victory?
“I always dream,” he said. “I can promise that I will fight for it. I have children, I have a car, we just have to put ourselves there [at the end]. ”
There are two other contestants who have won more than 500: Takuma Sato of Japan (45 years old, winner of the 2017 and 2020 races) and Juan Pablo Montoya of Colombia (46 years old), who won in 2000 and 2015. Each of the five active drivers has one victory. . Is there another four-time winner on the horizon?
“It will happen again one day,” Kastroneves said. “This new generation has the potential to achieve what the four of us have achieved.”
A few minutes after watching Castroneves cross the brick yard last year, Palou met the media with a disappointed but smiling face.
“[Helio] was three [wins]. Why did he want four – he couldn’t give me one? he joked. “I just wanted one.
“Everything is fine. We will return next year. “