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Close, unpredictable racing define historic Indianapolis 500

Photo by Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media

History was made in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 as, in the fastest 500 of the race’s 110-year history, Helio Castroneves became just the fourth four-time winner of the race.

Castroneves averaged 190.690 MPH in his successful bid to join Al Unser Sr., Rick Mears and A.J. Foyt as the only four drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 four times.

Castroneves started the Indianapolis 500 in eighth, seven positions behind Scott Dixon who started on pole position for the race. Dixon was quickly passed by Colton Herta as Dixon began conserving fuel for later in the race. Herta was overtaken by Rinus VeeKay the following lap.

The first major moment of the race occurred on Lap 34 when Stefan Wilson crashed on pit road, which brought out the first caution of the race. The caution fell during green flag stops as Herta and VeeKay had pitted but other leaders, such as Dixon and Alexander Rossi had not.

Pit road remained closed as safety crews cleaned up the wreck, which forced Dixon and Rossi to make emergency stops for fuel. Each of them went a lap down and had to play catch-up together, with Rossi even signaling toward the front of the field to Dixon before a Lap 47 restart.

Colton Herta and Rinus VeeKay led the field on Lap 47. VeeKay passed Herta but was overtaken by Ed Carpenter Racing teammate Conor Daly who traded the lead with Alex Palou and Helio Castroneves as the race progressed through several rounds of green flag pit stops.

Graham Rahal ended one of the green flag pit stop cycles on Lap 119 when he pitted for tires and fuel. Rahal was getting the best fuel mileage of any driver in the field which put him in good contention for the end of the race. However, a left-rear tire came loose on Rahal’s car when he exited the pits, which caused him to spin exiting the pits and hit the outside wall. The wreck took him out of the race and took Conor Daly out of contention as the left-rear tire hit Daly’s nosecone. All drivers were OK and Daly was able to continue.

On the restart following the Lap 119 caution, Scott Dixon was able to get back on the lead lap which put him back in contention on fuel strategy for the race. However, even as he, Takuma Sato, and Felix Rosenqvist put up strong fights for the win on fuel strategy, the battle for the win came down to Helio Castroneves, Alex Palou, Pato O’Ward and 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud.

Castroneves took the lead from Sato with six laps to go when green flag pit stops cycled through for the final time of the race. He and Palou swapped the lead before Castroneves took the lead coming to get the white flag. Castroneves held on to win his fourth Indianapolis 500, becoming the first four-time winner since Rick Mears won his fourth 500 in 1991.

The Top 10 finishers were as follows: Helio Castroneves, Alex Palou (best career Indianapolis 500 finish), Simon Pagenaud, Pato O’Ward (best career Indianapolis 500 finish), Ed Carpenter, Santino Ferrucci, Sage Karam (best career Indianapolis 500 finish), Rinus VeeKay, Juan Pablo Montoya, Tony Kanaan.

Marcus Ericsson finished 11th and earned his best career Indianapolis 500 finish.

Scott McLaughlin earned Rookie of the Year honors for this year’s Indianapolis 500. McLaughlin ran inside the Top 10 but had a speeding penalty on Lap 117 that resulted in a 20th-place finish.

The race featured 36 lead changes and two cautions for 18 laps. Conor Daly led the most laps (40) but finished 13th after an incident that damaged the front nosecone.

The next race for the NTT INDYCAR Series is the June 12 Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle Detroit (TV: NBC; 2 p.m. ET). Alex Palou leads the INDYCAR championship points over Scott Dixon by 36 points.


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