Indianapolis 500 Wrap-Up

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Not only was the finish of the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 one of the most exciting I’ve seen in a while, this was a very popular win. It has been forty-four years since AJ Foyt became the first four-time winner. Ten years later, Al Unser joined the club. Just four years later, Rick Mears became the third four-time winner in 1991.

Thirty years later, we still only had three four-time winners as of this morning. That all changed when Helio Castroneves took the lead over Alex Palou at the beginning of Lap 199, he passed into the history books – becoming only the fourth driver in Indianapolis history to win the race four times.

Seeing Castroneves celebrate made you happy for him. Few drivers can match the passion for this place that Helio Castroneves has. Susan was able to snap these photos of Helio climbing the fence and celebrating in Victory Lane – a place he has visited four times now. His enthusiasm carried over into the post-race press-conference.

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HELIO PRESS

There will be the naysayers that say that Helio Castroneves is not worthy of being mentioned in the same breath with the other three members of the four-time winner club. To them, I’ll simply say – baloney.

From start to finish, Helio Castroneves drove a masterful race. He jumped from his eighth starting spot to sixth. He was one of the few that benefited from the yellow caused by Stefan Wilson that took so many others out of contention – including pole-sitter Scott Dixon. I continued to curse drivers by picking them, when I picked Alexander Rossi, who finished twenty-ninth after starting tenth. But every four-time winner won races here by being lucky.

This will also silence those who claimed that he only won those other three because he was in Penske equipment. Well today, he won in a part-time effort with a team that is only in their second full-time season – and the first time to run a second car; the car Helio was driving.

Personally, I’m thrilled for Helio. I’m partial to the old guard, because I’m older than they are. I appreciate them proving that they can still get it done. Castroneves becomes the fourth oldest winner of the Indianapolis 500 at forty-six years and twenty days. Only Al Unser, Bobby Unser and Emerson Fittipaldi were older when they won their last 500s.

I’m sure there are people who are not thrilled with today’s outcome, but I heard no boos in the stands today. Our section in Stand A was cheering wildly every time Helio took the lead. It got louder as the laps were winding down. When Helio led Palou out of Turn Four and headed for the checkered flag – the cheer may have been the loudest I’ve ever heard here.

Kudos to Alex Palou. I kept thinking his inexperience was going to jump up and bite him, and it never did. This could have easily gone Palou’s way. I’m tempted to say his day will come, but how many times have we seen young drivers finish second in the Indianapolis 500 early in their career, and never match it again?

A tip of the hat goes to Simon Pagenaud and Santino Ferrucci. Pagenaud finished third after starting twenty-sixth, and Ferrucci came home in sixth after starting twenty-third. Ferrucci has now finished seventh, fourth and sixth in his three 500 starts. Sage Karam also drove one heck of a race, to finish seventh after starting thirty-first, on the last row.

His fellow last-row members did not fare so well. Will Power survived pitting on the parade lap to carve his was up through more than half the field. But it’s never a good sign to look up on the video boards and see a car facing the wrong way in the pits. That misfortune bit Power late in the race, and it got Simona De Silvestro also. Simona had a decent day and passed a few cars early. After the first yellow, she was running around twenty-fifth or so. But after the spun in the pits as Power did, Power finished thirtieth and De Silvestro thirty-first – the last two cars running.

That will do it for us today. I will have my Random Thoughts post tomorrow (Monday), but it may not be there first thing in the morning. We are heading to Dawson’s shortly. After that, who knows? We got up at 3:30 am and I may hit the wall after dinner. So it may be late Monday morning before my post shows up.

It was an emotional and historic day today. I am grateful to have been in the stands to witness it. Thanks for following along with us for the Month of May. Please check back tomorrow until Monday’s post is there.

George Phillips

8 Responses to “Indianapolis 500 Wrap-Up”

  1. Oliver W Says:

    I never thought he could but am so pleased he did. A true Indy 500 Champion and now four times although PT understandably will question that number. PT also will be pleased for HCN. And Meyer Shank. Wow. A bit of Liberty cash pays dividends. I agree that Pagenaud, Santino and Karam all delivered above expectations. Great race. Great result.

  2. Talón de Brea Says:

    I’m not sure how much it will help, but this should be good for the series to at least some extent. A nice showpiece for Mr. Penske.
    Good weather, big (by recent pandemic standards) vocal crowd, competitive race and a victory by one of the more popular and publicly recognizable drivers of recent decades, before the highly promising youth movement takes over … and Susan was there with George.

    Helio is not among my favorite drivers in the series, but he was very impressive … two big wins this year! Major kudos also to Mike Shank, whose delayed participation in the series has to make this win that much sweeter for him. No need to speculate about how sweet the win is for the not-quite-ready-for-the-pasture Helio …

  3. James T Suel Says:

    It was a good race and Helio earned his 4th victory.

  4. SkipinSC Says:

    Helio fought through every obstacle the track and the competition could muster. And he won. Welcome to the most exclusive club in auto racing .

  5. Matthew Lawrenson Says:

    Helio’s not due to race again in the series until Nashville. Do you think Meyer Shank will be putting together the sponsorship for more entries for the 06 in the near future?

  6. billytheskink Says:

    I’m not a Helio fan, but it would be plumb foolish to deny the impressiveness of his career at Indy regardless of what team he drove most of those races for, especially with a 4th victory coming in an extra car for a team that had never won before.

    I’m especially thrilled for Mike Shank, though, a lifetime racer of far deeper devotion than pockets (though his team now is fairly well funded). His squad winning the 500 after the decades of thankless devotion he has given the sport of racing is a deeply moving moment.

  7. the post race celebration was better than the monaco gp

    • Bruce Waine Says:

      Agreed.

      You could not top the post race celebration and the NBC’s television coverage of it.

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