SPEEDWAY, Ind. (WDTN) – In its 103-year history, A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, and Rick Mears are the only three drivers who have won the Indy 500 four times. And this Sunday, three-time winner Helio Castroneves gets one more chance to add his fourth likeness to the famed Borg-Warner trophy.
“I’m so thankful to come back but at the same time, I’m eager, I really want to make it happen,” says Castroneves. “I know a lot of fans would love to see that number four because only three guys on the planet were able to do that and to join that club would be absolutely a dream come true.”
When Castroneves goes for that fourth win on Sunday, he will have a secret weapon: one of the only three men to do it will be in his ear on race day.
Four-time winner Rick Mears will be positioned high in turn 3 and will serve as Helio’s spotter, talking to him on the radio, and serving as his eyes outside the cockpit. But as usual, the humble legend downplays his role.
“He’s been plenty good around this place for a long time to win the three he has, so he doesn’t need a lot of help. I’m just there for moral support and with the spotting if i can help out a little bit, but even at that, he’s more of an old-school type driver as far as spotters go. That’s his job, so I’m just there as kind of a back-up,” says Mears.
Castroneves adds, “I think the biggest advantage in the world is to have a guy who won four times right in your ear telling you stuff, a voice of wisdom. Sometimes only those guys know. I’m very fortunate but having a great team like Penske with three other teammates, it really helps that quest that we’re really looking forward to making that happen.”
But there is urgency to that quest. At the age of 44, this could be his last best chance at number four. And it’s now been a full decade since Helio last climbed the fence in victory in 2009. But if he can somehow make it happen, a familiar voice will welcome him, to racing’s most exclusive club.
“To me it’s just incredible. I never dreamed — those two I’m in there with are two of my heroes…I’ve never felt I’m in their league, never will, those two are two of the greats. It’s just so special but for me it’s a testament of the team,” said Mears.