Helio Castroneves wins 2021 Indianapolis 500 to become member of the 4-win club

Indy 500

INDIANAPOLIS — In the end, it was Helio Castroneves.

The driver won his fourth career Indy 500 in a nail-biting finish.

Castroneves weaved his way through lapped traffic to hold off a strong charge from Alex Palou on the final lap of the race. He joins the four-win club that includes A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears.

Castroneves previously won the 500 in 2001, 2002 and 2009.

Helio Castroneves celebrates his previous wins in 2001, 2002 and 2009 (Getty Images)

The four-way race for first place in the final laps also included Pato O’Ward and Simon Pagenaud, who continued to improve his position throughout the race.

“I love Indianapolis,” Castroneves, 46, said after the race. “I tell you what, this is absolutely incredible.”

Castroneves said he had an incredible car and “hit it out of the park.” He compared himself to Tom Brady, who won the Super Bowl at age 43, and Phil Mickelson, who won the PGA Championship at age 50.

The Indianapolis 500 welcomed 135,000 fans (about 40% of the capacity of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway)–the most at any sporting event in the world since the pandemic began. 

The race had a clean start through 33 laps before things quickly went south along pit lane.

It started with Stefan Wilson, who came in too fast to pit and hit the wall. The crash damaged the front end of the car and ended his day. The incident also brought out the first caution flag of the race.

Shortly after that, pole winner Scott Dixon went into the pits and ran out of fuel. He couldn’t get his car restarted and lost a lap. Alexander Rossi experienced a similar problem just minutes later.

Both spent the rest of the race trying to gain ground.

Shortly after the restart, Conor Daly took the lead from Rinus VeeKay, prompting a huge ovation from the crowd for the hometown hero from Noblesville. The pass gave Ed Carpenter Racing the top two spots through lap 53.

It marked the first time Daly had ever led a lap at the Indy 500. He started in the 19th position.

The race continued to run clean through the halfway point as race teams crunched the numbers for their fuel strategy.

But then Graham Rahal was involved in crash coming out of the pits. He climbed out of his car under his own power.

Replays showed that Rahal’s back left tire came off his car, causing him to crash and hit the wall coming out of the pits. It was a terrible break for Rahal, whose car was in contention.

The crash brought out the second caution flag of the race. It appeared Daly’s front end may have also been damaged during the incident.

Will Power, whose car had trouble before the race even started, climbed his way through the rankings. After starting in the last row, he made it into the top ten. However, a problem in the pits ended his hopes of winning the race.

Power said his brakes went out as he went into the pits, causing him to spin out and costing him valuable time. He finished 30th.

Late in the race, Ryan Hunter-Reay ended up with a speed violation in the pits, dashing any hopes he had of drinking the milk. The 2014 champ had been running strong throughout the day.

Here are the final results:

  • Helio Castroneves
  • Alex Palou
  • Simon Pagenaud
  • Pato O’Ward
  • Ed Carpenter
  • Santino Ferrucci
  • Sage Karam
  • Rinus VeeKay
  • Juan Pablo Montoya
  • Tony Kanaan
  • Marcus Ericsson
  • Josef Newgarden
  • Conor Daly
  • Takuma Sato
  • JR Hildebrand
  • Colton Herta
  • Scott Dixon
  • Jack Harvey
  • Marco Andretti
  • Scott McLaughlin
  • James Hinchcliffe
  • Ryan Hunter-Reay
  • Dalton Kellett
  • Max Chilton
  • Pietro Fittipaldi
  • Sebastien Bourdais
  • Felix Rosenqvist
  • Ed Jones
  • Alexander Rossi
  • Will Power
  • De Silvestro
  • Graham Rahal
  • Stefan Wilson

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