Shank Meyer Racing´s Hélio Castroneves has claimed a historic fourth Indiy 500 victory, a feat only achieved by three other drivers since 1933. The Brazilian beat Spaniard Álex Palou (Chip Ganassi Racing) with a spectacular overtake on the penultimate lap.
Castroneves and Palau delighted fans at the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a thrilling duel at the closing laps. Despite his defeat, the Catalan driver has put an outstanding performance at his second stint in the brickyard, carving himself a place in the elite of the speciality.
As for the winner, it didn’t matter that he has just turned 46; this fourth victory (2001, 2002, 2009 and 2021) has brought him up level with the legendary A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears.
Dixon loses first place at the start of Indiy 500
Both the New Zealander and his Spanish teammate at Chip Ganassi had a slow start to the race with pole holder Scott Dixon passed by Colton Herta and Rinus Veekay and the latter taking the lead. Veekay’s early pit stop prompted others to follow suit. Shortly after Stefan Wilson missed the entrance to the pit lane and crashed against the wall, triggering the first caution.
On lap 36 at Indiy 500, Dixon and Alexander Rossi made an emergency stop when the pits were still closed. The bad timing added to a slow stop, pushed both drivers to the back of the pack. Unlike Dixon, his Catalan teammate had a smooth stop, re-joining the track in the sixth position while Colton Herta was leading the group. Following the green flag, Conor Daly and Rinus Veekay passed Herta for first and second, respectively.
It was then that Castroneves started to put his foot down on the accelerator while Palou was climbing up positions to fifth. The Spaniard was now driving in fuel-saving mode and his rivals pitted for the second time ahead of him which resulted in Álex briefly taking the lead of the race.
Halfway point: The Chevrolets take control of the race
Passed the halfway point of the Indianapolis 500 and with the second pit-stop done and dusted, the machines powered by Chevrolet engines commenced their strong offensive. Daly, VeeKay and Patricio O’Ward (Arrow-McLaren SP) were flying ahead closely followed by Castroneves, Herta and Palou.
The third pit stop was to become a turning point of the race. Palou and O’Ward significantly increased their pace in order to regain some positions but shortly after one of Graham Rahal tires became loose, and he crashed. The incident happened just as Palou had taken the lead and while some of his rivals were still in boxes. Behind the Spaniard came Hélio Castroneves and O’Ward.
As the race resumed, Palou’s two pursuers got ahead of him but only for a short while as the Spaniard, in a great display of determination and skill, regained the lead a few laps later. At 40 from the checkered flag and with a final pit-stop still pending, things remained unchanged. Palou was commanding the race followed by Castroneves and O’Ward.
Images of Indiy 500: IndyCar.