Helio Castroneves stormed to an incredible, record-equalling. fourth victory at the Indianapolis 500 with Meyer Shank Racing. By doing so, he cements his legacy as one of the most illustrious drivers in top-tier American motorsport, joining Rick Mears, A.J. Foyt, and Al Unser as the most successful drivers at the 500′ mile race.
Castroneves, 46, returned as a guest driver in what was his first appearance since the 2020 Harvest Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But after showing glimpses of speed in practice, he managed to break into the ‘Fast Nine’, lining up on the grid in eighth place.
What followed was a dramatic three-way battle between Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou and Arrow McLaren SP Racing’s Patricio O’Ward after a cautionary period brought on by Graham Rahal.
Rahal brought out the yellow flags after colliding with the wall, a result of his rear left tyre coming loose during their pitstop. The American’s tyre was sent flying across the track, bouncing off the front of Conor Daly. He was the last of those to stop and was due to emerge into the lead, a gut-wrenching result.
With O’Ward chasing the leading pair following the final two pitstops, Castroneves and Palou traded places throughout the final 20 laps. But the Brazilian, who previously won at The Brickyard in 2001-02 and ’09, took the lead from Palou for the final time with two laps remaining in his No. 06 Dallara-Honda.
For Meyer Shank Racing, this marks not only their first Indianapolis 500 victory but also their first *IndyCar* victory in their 5 seasons of racing. A deserving win after some incredible near-misses this season with fellow Meyer Shank driver Jack Harvey.
Alex Palou took second place, his third podium of the season, and with it the lead of the driver’s championship. The difference between Palou’s two Indy 500s could not have been greater. Last year he qualified seventh but crashed and failed to finish on Lap 121.
O’Ward lost out on the final podium position to Penske’s Simon Pagenaud on the final lap of the race. The Frenchman drove imperiously all day, fighting through the field in what can only be described as a miracle drive after starting down in 26th.
Scott Dixon led from pole position but was quickly hunted down by both Ed Carpenter’s Rinus VeeKay and Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta. They spent the majority of the first half of the race saving fuel, extending their first stints as far as possible.
This portion of the race was dropped on its head following a pitlane crash involving Justin Wilson, who locked up under braking and veered into the pit wall. The following caution kept the pitlane closed and extended many drivers’ stints when they were crucially low on fuel. Both Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi suffered, running out of fuel coming into the pits.
Both drivers lost significant time, as their teams tried to refire their cars and then make an extra stop to fully refuel. In all, the disaster put both cars one lap down. Without another caution called in the rest of the first half of the race, it destroyed any realistic hope either had of aiming for an epic comeback.
After the pitstops, Ed Carpenter teammates Rinus VeeKay and Indianapolis local Conor Daly emerged as the leaders, with Daly pulling off an incredibly popular overtake on the restart.
As for the rest of the top ten, Ed Carpenter finished fifth – a great recovery after stalling during the first pit stops. He finishes the race as the lead Ed Carpenter Racing driver.
Santino Ferrucci had arguably one of the most impressive results in the Rahal Letterman Lanigan entry. After starting in 23rd he carved his way through the field and conducting a short final pitstop on the 180th lap. This cycled him ahead of others who had pitted earlier, finishing in sixth place and taking the fastest lap to top it off.
Sage Karam went from the last row of the grid to seventh place, his career-best finish in the Indy 500. This marks the best result for the Dreyer and Reinbold Racing Team since Oriol Servia’s fourth place in 2011.
After leading much of the first stint, Veekay just couldn’t save enough fuel to stay competitive, but he was able to come home with an eighth-place finish. Behind him in ninth was two-time Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya in the Arrow McLaren SP.
Rounding out the top ten was Tony Kanaan in the final Chip Ganassi entry. He had been amongst the frontrunners but was forced to concede some positions after a pitlane infraction
Eleventh place Marcus Ericsson beat the Penske of Josef Newgarden, who fought incredibly well from 21st.
Defending Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato, could not repeat the feat this year. The Japanese driver had to perform a splash-and-dash at the end and finished 14th, ahead of 2011 runner-up JR Hildebrand – the highest-placed AJ Foyt driver.