INDIANAPOLIS — Helio Castroneves netted his fourth career Indianapolis 500 triumph in Sunday’s 105th Running. He ties AJ Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears in that elusive four-win club. This was his 31st career NTT IndyCar Series victory which ties him with Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy for 10th all-time too. He also becomes the first driver to win an Indy 500 for Team Penske and win again with another team in doing so for Meyer Shank Racing. In saying that, this was MSR’s first ever Indy Car victory too.
Castroneves, is the fourth-oldest winner in the race behind Al Unser (47 years, 360 days) in 1987, Bobby Unser (47 years, 93 days) in 1981 and Emerson Fittipaldi (46 years, 169 days) in 1993. Helio is 46 years, 20 days old on this day in history.
His trip to victory lane is the seventh for Brazilians with four by him, two by Emmo (1989, 1993) and one by Tony Kanaan (2013).
Also, this keeps the trend of one off winners winning as he did so in 2001, Dan Wheldon did it in 2011 and now Castroneves again in 2021.
Castroneves passed Alex Palou on Lap 198 for the win which ranks the second time in three years the leader crossing the yard of bricks on Lap 198 didn’t win. It’s the sixth time that feat has occurred and the 11th time in the last 12 years that the winner moved into the lead inside of 10 laps-to-go. He’s the first driver to win here and not have a number between 1-99 as he pulled his No. 06 Honda into victory lane on Sunday.
The race was the fastest in Indy 500 history with an average speed of 190.690 mph breaking the 2013 record of 187.433 mph. There were only two cautions for 18 laps all race, both race records too. The previous was in 1990 and 2019 with four yellows and the previous record for fewest cautions laps was 21 in 1976, 2013 and again in 2014.
The 12 year gap between wins was the second longest gap between victories in Indy 500 history. Juan Pablo Montoya has the record at 15 years between his first win in 2000 and second in 2015.
It’s the third time the winner started eighth. The last was Kenny Brack in 1999. The other was Danny Sullivan in 1985.
It’s the 14th win for Honda, second most ever as they trail Offenhauser (27) in the wins list for engines.
The race had 35 lead changes among 13 drivers. That’s the most since 2017 when there was also 35. Those are tied for fourth most ever with 68 (2013), 54 (2016) and 37 (2015) the only years better. Last year we only had 21. The year prior was just 29 with 30 in the first year of the UAK in 2018. This all comes after the race being the fastest qualifying field average (230.294 mph) last weekend and the third closest from quickest qualifier to slowest.
Castroneves also becomes the sixth different winner in as many races run in 2021. We’ve had five different teams win too (Ganassi, Andretti, Arrow McLaren SP, Ed Carpenter Racing and Meyer Shank Racing). Surprisingly, Penske is 0-for-6 this year after winning the final two races of 2020. In counting those two races, we’ve had eight straight races with a different winner now.
Speaking of points, the Ganassi boys are really starting to separate themselves while the Andretti group keeps digging their hole even deeper. Alex Palou leads his teammate Scott Dixon by 36 points heading to the doubleheader in Belle Isle in two weeks. Pato O’Ward (-37) is third while Simon Pagenaud (-47) and Rinus VeeKay (-57) are fourth and fifth respectively.
Between Palou, O’Ward and Pagenaud, they finished 2-3-4 on Sunday and sit 2-4-3 in points now. Herta leads the Andretti foursome in seventh, but he’s also 94 points arrears. Graham Rahal is 100 points out in eighth which is a lot to make up.
Alexander Rossi is -147 in 15th, Ryan Hunter-Reay is in 17th (-154) and James Hinchcliffe (-174) in 24th.
Will Power has slipped to 12th in points while his other Penske teammates are 4-6-9.
Three of the top seven finishers made their first start of the season. Castroneves (1st), Santino Ferrucci (6th) and Sage Karam (7th) all made their season debuts this weekend. For Ferrucci, he’s finished seventh, fourth and now sixth in his three Indy starts. Karam, netted his first top 10 since his rookie year in 2014.
Juan Pablo Montoya made his season debut at Indy two weeks ago and he finished ninth on Sunday for his fifth top 10 in six Indy starts.
VeeKay, has five top 10’s in six starts this season, which is as many as he had all of last year.