Indy 500: Castroneves pulls off stunning victory to beat Palou for fourth win

Helio Castroneves scorched to a sensational Indianapolis 500 victory, beating Alex Palou in a thrilling battle for the lead.

Indy 500: Castroneves pulls off stunning victory to beat Palou for fourth win

Castroneves, driving for Meyer Shank in a part-time entry, swept past Chip Ganassi Racing’s Palou on the penultimate lap to claim his fourth Indy 500 victory – joining the likes of AJ Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears on the joint-most wins at the Brickyard.

A thrilling three-driver battle for the lead between Castroneves, Palou and Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward set the tone for the second half of the race, as the trio dominated proceedings following the second caution period produced by Graham Rahal.

Rahal brought out the yellow flags immediately after his pitstop, exiting his stall without his rear-left wheel properly attached.

The wheel jettisoned itself from the axle, forcing Rahal into a crash at Turn 2 – as the wheel itself bounced off the front of Conor Daly’s car to leave damage to the nosecone.

Rahal, who had been the last of those to stop, was due to cycle into the lead pack prior to his ignominious exit from the race – and said his incident was “hard to accept”.

With O’Ward lurking behind the front pair following the final two rounds of stops, Castroneves and Palou traded places throughout the final 20 laps – all for the net lead as Felix Rosenqvist and Takuma Sato waited until late on before conceding to their pit stalls for their final stops.

Palou stormed past Castroneves with five laps remaining but, waiting until the dial ticked over into lap 199, Castroneves grabbed the slipstream and pulled back past – and was able to borrow a tow from a train of cars ahead to beat Palou by 0.492s.

Race winner Helio Castroneves, Meyer Shank Racing Honda

Race winner Helio Castroneves, Meyer Shank Racing Honda

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

This secured a first victory for the Meyer Shank team and Castroneves’ first not driving for the Penske team.

O’Ward, who had been battling among the lead group, dropped back behind Simon Pagenaud on the final lap to finish fourth – as Pagenaud had diligently worked his way through the field having languished in 26th on the grid.

Ed Carpenter finished fifth, having converted fourth on the grid into a front-running position at the start of the race – before stalling during his first stop and having to recover lost ground.

Santino Ferrucci, running in a third Rahal Letterman Lanigan entry, was able to secure sixth place having been able to conduct a short final pitstop – as the ex-Formula 2 driver pushed his final stop for fuel to the 180th lap.

Sage Karam claimed an impressive seventh for the Indy 500-only entry of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, which was the team’s best result at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since Oriol Servia’s fourth place in 2011.

Rinus VeeKay followed Karam home, having led a considerable part of the first half of the race, but the Ed Carpenter Racing driver was unable to capitalise on his front-row start having been slowly engulfed by the pack after the final round of stops.

Two-time Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya, driving a third McLaren SP car, was able to finish ninth after working his way through the field – ahead of fellow veteran Tony Kanaan – who had been among the frontrunners at the start of the race before being forced to concede positions following a pitlane penalty.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Ericsson beat the Penske of Josef Newgarden, who having his made his way up the order from his starting berth of 21st, had embarked upon an off-cycle strategy at the half-way point of the race and was able to cycle out ahead of VeeKay earlier on.

But the strategy didn’t quite pay off for Newgarden, who finished ahead of Daly – who had traded the lead early on with team-mate VeeKay and suffered no lasting damage from his contact with Rahal’s tyre.

Takuma Sato, the winner of last year’s 500, 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.

A pitlane incident for Andretti one-off entrant Stefan Wilson during the first round of stops brought out a chaotic first caution period, as the Brit locked up entering pitlane and hit the wall.

Stefan Wilson, Andretti Autosport Honda crash

Stefan Wilson, Andretti Autosport Honda crash

Photo by: Geoff Miller / Motorsport Images

This caused numerous problems for the likes of Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi, who ran out of fuel as they entered the pitlane for emergency fuel loads – and the cars were unable to fire back up until they had cooled down.

Dixon got back on the lead lap and finished 17th, 9s behind early leader Colton Herta.

2021 Indianapolis 500 race results

Cla Driver Team Laps Time Gap
1 Brazil Helio Castroneves United States Meyer Shank Racing 200 2:37'19.384  
2 Spain Alex Palou United States Chip Ganassi Racing 200 2:37'19.877 0.492
3 France Simon Pagenaud United States Team Penske 200 2:37'19.947 0.562
4 Mexico Patricio O'Ward Arrow McLaren SP 200 2:37'20.325 0.940
5 United States Ed Carpenter United States Ed Carpenter Racing 200 2:37'20.627 1.242
6 United States Santino Ferrucci United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 200 2:37'28.472 9.087
7 United States Sage Karam United States Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 200 2:37'32.820 13.435
8 Netherlands Rinus van Kalmthout United States Ed Carpenter Racing 200 2:37'33.626 14.241
9 Colombia Juan Pablo Montoya Arrow McLaren SP 200 2:37'34.265 14.880
10 Brazil Tony Kanaan United States Chip Ganassi Racing 200 2:37'34.827 15.442
11 Sweden Marcus Ericsson United States Chip Ganassi Racing 200 2:37'35.901 16.516
12 United States Josef Newgarden United States Team Penske 200 2:37'41.689 22.304
13 United States Conor Daly United States Ed Carpenter Racing 200 2:37'42.076 22.692
14 Japan Takuma Sato United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 200 2:37'42.680 23.295
15 United States J.R. Hildebrand United States A.J. Foyt Enterprises 200 2:37'42.912 23.527
16 United States Colton Herta Andretti Autosport with Curb-Agajanian 200 2:37'48.187 28.802
17 New Zealand Scott Dixon United States Chip Ganassi Racing 200 2:37'58.025 38.641
18 United Kingdom Jack Harvey United States Meyer Shank Racing 200 2:37'59.541 40.157
19 United States Marco Andretti Andretti Herta-Haupert with Marco & Curb-Agajanian 200 2:37'59.743 40.359
20 New Zealand Scott McLaughlin United States Team Penske 200 2:38'00.218 40.833
21 Canada James Hinchcliffe Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport 200 2:38'00.231 40.846
22 United States Ryan Hunter-Reay United States Andretti Autosport 200 2:38'00.960 41.576
23 Canada Dalton Kellett United States A.J. Foyt Enterprises 199 2:37'25.606 1 Lap
24 United Kingdom Max Chilton United Kingdom Carlin 199 2:37'35.319 1 Lap
25 Brazil Pietro Fittipaldi Dale Coyne Racing with RWR 199 2:37'40.795 1 Lap
26 France Sébastien Bourdais United States A.J. Foyt Enterprises 199 2:37'44.737 1 Lap
27 Sweden Felix Rosenqvist Arrow McLaren SP 199 2:37'45.510 1 Lap
28 United Arab Emirates Ed Jones Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan 199 2:37'56.345 1 Lap
29 United States Alexander Rossi United States Andretti Autosport 198 2:37'40.728 2 Laps
30 Australia Will Power United States Team Penske 197 2:37'33.267 3 Laps
31 Switzerland Simona de Silvestro Paretta Autosport 169 2:21'09.195 31 Laps
32 United States Graham Rahal United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 118 1:33'12.579 82 Laps
33 United Kingdom Stefan Wilson United States Andretti Autosport 32 22'19.035 168 Laps
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