Hélio Castroneves is a four-time Indianapolis 500 winner. Meyer Shank Racing is an IndyCar winning team. Carlos Sainz is talking about age and weight. Supercars postponed its race weekend at Winton. Mercedes finally got the right front removed from Valtteri Bottas' car. BMW has fuel concerns ahead of the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters season opener at Monza. The NASCAR Truck Series will not be going to Mosport. It was a record-breaking night in the Coca-Cola 600.
Sadly, there were two notable passings. Former FIA president Max Mosley passed away from cancer last week. Mosley was 81 years old. Yesterday, Moto3 rider Jason Dupasquier succumbed to injuries suffered in a qualifying accident ahead of the Mugello round. Dupasquier was 19 years old.
More Indianapolis 500 Thoughts
I had nothing planned for today and nothing major came up this weekend at Indianapolis. We didn't have the "should a race finish under caution" hullabaloo. We didn't have another Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year kerfuffle. We had a good race and don't have to talk about downforce and the aero package.
Let's just talk about the race. There is plenty to talk about after this Indianapolis 500, and you cannot get to all of it in the immediate aftermath. You really can use the next three days to cover every loose end of this race. We aren't going to get to all of them, but we are going to cover a bunch.
1. To put Hélio Castroneves' Indianapolis 500 career into perspective, not only did he win his fourth and become the fourth four-time winner, but that victory was his ninth top five finish. How many drivers have nine top five finishes in the Indianapolis 500?
Al Unser, A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears, Ted Horn and Hélio Castroneves.
That's it. That's the list. Castroneves now has 15 top ten finishes. How many drivers have 15 top ten finishes in the Indianapolis 500?
Unser, Foyt, Castroneves.
This was the 19th Indianapolis 500 Castroneves has finished. How many drivers have finished 19 Indianapolis 500s?
Castroneves. That's the list. His only retirements were 2006 and 2018.
He has led a lap in 13 Indianapolis 500s. Only Tony Kanaan and now Scott Dixon have led more. Both Kanaan and Dixon have led 14 Indianapolis 500s.
Castroneves victory also has him 14th in the championship on 103 points. Castroneves is 18 points behind his Meyer Shank Racing teammate Jack Harvey and Castroneves is two points ahead of Alexander Rossi.
2. Álex Palou has led a lap in every race this season. The last driver to open a season with a lap led in the first six race was Sébastien Bourdais in 2018. Bourdais then didn't lead another lap that season after the sixth race.
On top of that, Palou now leads the championship with 248 points and he has a 36-point lead over his teammate Scott Dixon. That is a significant lead. It is surmountable, but if Palou keeps up his results, the Spaniard will be there at the end of the championship.
Also, did anyone else think Palou's NTT Data livery this weekend at Indianapolis looked like the Team Player's liveries from the 1990s? I had a Jacques Villeneuve flashback during the race.
3. Speaking of Scott Dixon, he finished 17th at Indianapolis, and that snapped his streak of 15 consecutive top ten finishes. Impressive. Dixon did lead seven laps and he tied Kanaan for most Indianapolis 500s led at 14 total.
4. Yesterday's race was the fourth 500-mile IndyCar race to break an average speed of 190 mph. The fastest 500-mile race was at Pocono in 2014, which Juan Pablo Montoya won at 202.402 mph. Jimmy Vasser won at Fontana in 2002 at 197.995 mph. Tony Kanaan's victory at the 2014 Fontana season finale was won at 196.111 mph.
Though Castroneves won this year's Indianapolis 500 at 190.690 mph, it isn't even the fastest IndyCar race he has won. He won the 400-mile race at Michigan in 2006 at 193.972 mph, the tenth fastest race in IndyCar history.
5. Castroneves has completed 3,998 laps in Indianapolis 500 competition. He is two laps away from joining A.J. Foyt and Al Unser as the only drivers with 4,000 laps led in an Indianapolis 500 career. He is 911 laps away from tying Foyt's record.
This was the 15th time Castroneves has completed all 500 miles. He already held that record.
6. Six of the top ten finishers from the Indianapolis 500 will not be at the next IndyCar race at Belle Isle.
Remember ten years ago when people wondered if Dan Wheldon not being in the next IndyCar race was good or bad for the series? We haven't had those conversations pop up after Castroneves' victory yet, but I don't think it will. That is progress. People are comfortable with where IndyCar stands.
7. Sage Karam was the seventh. It is his first top ten finish in 12 starts. It is his first top ten finish in 2,143 days. That is five years, ten months and 12 days. Karam also led two laps yesterday. It was the first time he has led since the 2016 Indianapolis 500 when he led two laps. It was the fourth time Karam has led in his career and all four of those races have been 500-mile races. He led at Fontana and Pocono in 2015.
8. Castroneves won from eighth on the grid. It is the first time an Indianapolis 500 winner has started on row three since Kenny Bräck won from eighth in 1999. Row three has been a desert for Indianapolis 500 winners. Seventh has not produced a winner in 60 years when A.J. Foyt won his first Indianapolis 500 in 1961. The only time the winner has started ninth was Emerson Fittipaldi in 1993.
9. Juan Pablo Montoya has the 12th best average finish among the 258 drivers with at least five Indianapolis 500 starts after finishing ninth this year. Montoya has finished first, fifth, first, 33rd, sixth and ninth. Imagine what his average would be if he did not spin in turn two in 2016.
10. Tony Kanaan picked up his 11th top ten finish in the Indianapolis 500. It was the 11th time he has completed all 500 miles. Kanaan has completed 3,551 laps in the Indianapolis 500. That is 8,877.5 miles. He ranks fourth all-time in mileage completed in an Indianapolis 500 career.
11. Looking at the championship, 47 points cover Álex Palou in first and Simon Pagenaud in fourth. One hundred points separate Palou and Graham Rahal in eighth. Will Power is 120 points back in 12th.
12. Eight drivers had to serve a penalty for emergency service in a closed pit on lap 45.
13. Conor Daly led 40 laps in this year's race. Prior to this race, the most laps he had led in a race was 22 at Mid-Ohio in 2016. He had only led 18 laps on an oval in his career and 17 of those laps came in the Iowa doubleheader last season. He also led one lap at Gateway in 2019.
14. Circling back to the championship, Hélio Castroneves is 14th with 103 points. Alexander Rossi is 15th on 101 points. Ed Carpenter is 16th with 99 points. Ryan Hunter-Reay is 17th on 94 points, Sébastien Bourdais is 18th on 89 points, Conor Daly is 19th on 85 points and Felix Rosenqvist rounds out the top twenty on 82 points.
15. J.R. Hildebrand has been running at the finish of ten of 11 Indianapolis 500 starts. He has completed 2,002 of 2,200 laps. Hildebrand failed to complete 197 laps in 2013 after he had an accident in turn one and that was promptly fired from Panther Racing after that result. The only other time he was a lap down was in 2019.
16. Colton Herta was the top Andretti Autosport finisher in 16th. It is the first time Andretti Autosport failed to have a top fifteen finisher sine Long Beach 2017. It is the first time the team failed to have at least one top ten finisher in the Indianapolis 500.
17. The top sixteen finishers all completed this year's race at an average speed above 190 mph. Who missed out on the 190-mph club? Scott Dixon in 17th. How much did he miss it by? Oh, 0.087 mph or about 4.34 seconds.
18. Every time Hélio Castroneves has won the Indianapolis 500, the Los Angeles Lakers has gone onto win the NBA championship. Don't worry Lakers fans. You got this. This 2-2 series with Phoenix will end in your favor and so will the three rounds after it. Castroneves said so.
19. Marco Andretti has finished outside the top fifteen of his last six IndyCar starts and Andretti has finished outside the top ten of his last eight starts.
20. Chip Ganassi Racing will have to wait at least a full decade between Indianapolis 500 victories. The team has not won since Dario Franchitti's third in 2012. That was the first Indianapolis 500 in the DW12-era. It is not set in stone when the next chassis will come, but we know it will likely be in 2024 at the earliest. There is a chance Ganassi could not win another Indianapolis 500 in this era. From 2008 to 2012, Ganassi won three of five Indianapolis 500s.
Scott Dixon has been around all these years. Tony Kanaan has been a regular for the team. Ryan Briscoe, Charlie Kimball, Sage Karam, Sebastián Saavedra, Max Chilton, Ed Jones, Felix Rosenqvist and Marcus Ericsson have all started an Indianapolis 500 for Ganassi since its last Indianapolis 500 victory. And next year, Jimmie Johnson could be making his Indianapolis 500 debut.
It is hard to fathom it has been this long. We thought Team Penske's wait between Castroneves in 2009 and Juan Pablo Montoya's second in 2015 was a significant drought. Ganassi is trapped in hell in comparison.
21. In nine Indianapolis 500 starts, James Hinchcliffe has finished better than his starting position once. That was when he started 32nd in 2019.
22. Santino Ferrucci picked up fastest lap in yesterday's race with a lap at 39.5874 seconds, an average speed of 227.345 mph. Ferrucci's lap came on lap 116. It was the fastest the fastest lap has been since Tony Kanaan ran a 39.2692-second, 229.187 mph lap on lap 100 of the 2003 race.
23. Twelve different drivers have scored fastest lap in the last 12 Indianapolis 500s (Will Power, Dario Franchitti, Marco Andretti, Justin Wilson, Juan Pablo Montoya, Charlie Kimball, Alexander Rossi, Takuma Sato, Hélio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, James Hinchcliffe and Ferrucci).
24. We have had six different winners from the first six IndyCar races this season. Dating back to last season, we have had eight different winners in the last eight races. Five teams have won this season. The six winners this season represent six different nationalities.
And we still haven't had Team Penske win a race this season!
25. Scott McLaughlin was the top finishing rookie in 20th. It ends a streak of five consecutive years with an Indianapolis 500 rookie finishing in the top ten. Alexander Rossi won in 2016. Ed Jones was third in 2017, but Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year honors went to Fernando Alonso. Robert Wickens was ninth in 2018, Santino Ferrucci was seventh in 2019 and Patricio O'Ward was sixth last year.
We have had at least one rookie finisher in the top ten of eight of the last 11 Indianapolis 500s now.
26. I still cannot believe Roger Penske let Hélio Castroneves go. I imagine as happy as Penske is for Castroneves, this result stings a little bit. Penske owns the track but the greatest moment for him as a team owner was lost.
You can say Penske is a winner anyway because he gets to promote Castroneves going for a fifth Indianapolis 500 next year, but I don't see Penske as a silver lining type of guy.
Penske is still a car owner, a ruthless one at that, and he wants a 19th Indianapolis 500 victory. He wants to be wining and dining his sponsors that evening after another victorious afternoon. He wanted to be right next to Castroneves kissing the bricks.
I always thought Penske would giving Castroneves a shot at a fourth as long as Castroneves wanted it. The first year Castroneves is with another team he gets his magic moment and for the first time in a long time, possibly ever, Roger Penske looks like the biggest sucker.
27. In the last three years ending with the number one, the Indianapolis 500 winner has not been a full-time driver in that series.
Hélio Castroneves was full-time in CART in 2001, but he was not full-time in the Indy Racing League. Castroneves and Team Penske ran Phoenix as a warm-up and then ran Indianapolis and won the race as a rookie.
In 2011, Dan Wheldon won as a one-off with Bryan Herta Autosport. At the time of his victory, Wheldon didn't have any other races planned that season. He did run Kentucky as a warm-up for the Las Vegas race, where he was racing for a $2.5 million bonus with $2.5 million also going to a fan if he had won.
This was Castroneves' first start of the season, and he has more to come. We will not see him until Nashville in August and then he will run the second IMS road course race on the Saturday of the NASCAR weekend a week later. He will then run the final three races of the season at Portland, Laguna Seca and Long Beach. At least that is the plan. Perhaps winning the Indianapolis 500 will increase his schedule.
28. I guess we don't care about how the starts look. That was a mess. We didn't see the field grid up in eleven rows of three until turn three on the final pace lap. That felt later than usual. Then at the green flag, no one was in place. Colton Herta was behind Scott Dixon. Rows four through nine was jumbled up. There was no spacing, which is IndyCar's biggest issue on ovals, and we have seen too many accidents at the start of races in recent memory.
This is easy to police. I don't want to blame Kyle Novak too much but if Colton Herta falls behind Scott Dixon before the start line, that should be a penalty. Until IndyCar starts penalizing guys, the starts are going to look like crap. No one wants to hear that nine guys have to serve a drive-through penalty or a stop-and-go penalty after lap one of the Indianapolis 500, but it is the only way to clean things up.
29. Entering this year's Indianapolis 500, Alexander Rossi had the seventh best average finish among the 256 drivers with at least five Indianapolis 500 starts. After this year's race, Rossi is now tied for 38th with Frank Elliott, Vitor Meira and Jimmy Reece at 11.667.
What will it take for Rossi to get back to seventh all-time?
With Castroneves' victory, the Brazilian is now seventh at 8.3809. Rossi would need to win the next three Indianapolis 500s to get his average finish below 8.3809 and if Rossi won three consecutive Indianapolis 500s, his average finish would be 8.111.
We have yet to have a driver win three consecutive Indianapolis 500s. That is likely not going to happen for Rossi and he will likely make more than three Indianapolis 500 starts.
Let's say Rossi runs the next ten years. That would give Rossi 16 Indianapolis 500 starts. The sum of Rossi's first six Indianapolis 500 stats is 70. To be at least below 8.3809 after his 16th Indianapolis 500 start, the sum of Rossi's finishes would need to be 134 or lower. That means Rossi's average finish over the next ten years must be 6.4 just for him to get back to seventh all-time.
It just goes to show how two poor results can ruin an average. However, I wouldn't count Rossi out.
30. The incredible thing is we didn't see any attrition yesterday. We had the Stefan Wilson spin, Graham Rahal losing his tire and Simona de Silvestro retiring after her spin entering the pit lane. That's it. No one had a turbo failure. No one broke a driveshaft. We didn't have a team brush the wall, bend its suspension and call it a day. Thirty cars took the checkered flag.
If all 33 cars had completed all 200 laps, then 6,600 total laps would have been run. We had 6,308 laps total laps run in the 105th Indianapolis 500. We were only 292 laps away from dare I say a perfect race. What is more perfect than every car completing every lap?
31. Doubling back to Stefan Wilson's accident. Has there been an accident that early in an Indianapolis 500 change a race that much? Who could have seen a lap 34 accident take out the Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi because both cars locked up because they ran out of fuel? And it was only those two drivers. No one else stalled. No one else had to lose a lap while the driver waited for his or her cas to reset. It was only Dixon and Rossi, arguably two of the five best drivers in IndyCar.
If Dixon and Rossi avoid stalling, both would have had to take a penalty for emergency service. It would have put them in the middle of the field, but they still would have been on the lead lap instead of spending most of the day just fighting to get back on the lead lap.
In Dixon's case, he spent nearly 90 laps off the lead lap and Rossi never got back on the lead lap. This race plays out differently if Dixon and Rossi never stall.
32. Wilson was just the start to the trend of the 105th Indianapolis 500 and that was cars spinning into the pit lane. It has happened before. It happened two years ago with Marcus Ericsson, but why did three happen this year and why did we almost have a fourth and a fifth? Scott McLaughlin had a nervy moment and Ryan Hunter-Reay basically looked like he had no brakes when he came to pit lane for his final stop.
I bet IndyCar investigates it and will make an adjustment as it sees fit. I don't know if the teams are pushing it too much and could be overstepping a line when it comes in terms of safety. I don't know if IndyCar needs to look at pit lane speed. These cars are going from 215 mph to basically 60 mph in a blink. Should Indianapolis be a little quicker? Twenty miles per hour doesn't sound like much but there is a big difference between 60 mph and 80 mph. Next time you are on a highway and going 60 mph, smash the gas pedal to the floor and take the car to 80 mph. There is a difference.
No one spun entering pit lane in Texas earlier this month. Takuma Sato ran over Ryan Hunter-Reay entering pit lane at Pocono in 2013. Outside of that incidents, we don't see many pit lane entrance issues on ovals. It wasn't that long ago IndyCar was at Fontana and I can't recall one major incident in the four-year stretch from 2012 to 2015.
I do believe there can be a flexibility to pit lane speed. We make it black-and-white, but if someone is going 65 mph, they aren't necessarily causing danger. Speed is cut and dry, but we need to see how a driver is handling that speed. You could be going ten miles over the speed limit and not get pulled off because you are not being reckless in traffic. You can be going five miles per hour over and swerving back and forth and passing in the right lane and a cop will pull you over.
There needs to be a hard line on a speed because we can't have drivers cruising at 150 mph on pit lane and then arguing they were in complete control of their car and no one was put at risk. I think IndyCar can look at its pit lane procedure and be a little more forgiving. We can be open about it. It is a discussion worth having.
33. Do people care Hélio Castroneves won his fourth Indianapolis 500?
We care. IndyCar fans care. Motorsports fans care. But do people care?
There was a time a four-time Indianapolis 500 winner would likely be the talk of the town for a week. That driver would be on a lot of talk shows. Everyone would know his name. I don't sense that will happen with Castroneves and it has nothing to do with the man himself.
I feel like had Castroneves won his fourth in 2012 or 2014 it would have been a much bigger moment than it was this year. Time will tell. We aren't even 24 hours removed from Castroneves taking the checkered flag, but for as notable of a sporting event the Indianapolis 500 is it hasn't been a cultural event that everyone stops to view. It doesn't dominate the airwaves for the entire week leading up to it.
We care about it. We make it our lives, but 300 million people in the United States alone have woken up this morning and at no point were they aware the race was even going on yesterday.
It is special, but I have been around long enough to know this will not be some transcendent moment for IndyCar and the Indianapolis 500. It is special, but IndyCar will remain the same. The crowd will be about the same size. That solid audience of close to a million people will watch Belle Isle in two weeks. Teams are going to struggle for sponsors. Oval races will struggle to draw 20,000 people.
That is IndyCar in the year 2021. Not much different from IndyCar in 2011, but we are happier than we were ten years ago. People are genuinely happy within the IndyCar bubble. It has been a positive ten years, especially the last five or six years. Even if Castroneves is not the national star of the week and IndyCar remains obscure, we should at least be happy that IndyCar is in a healthier place.
Winners From the Weekend
You know about Hélio Castroneves, but did you know...
Fabio Quartararo won MotoGP's Italian Grand Prix, his third victory of the season. Remy Gardner won the Moto2 race and took the championship lead. Dennis Foggia won the Moto3 race.
Kyle Larson won the Coca-Cola 600, his second victory of the season. It is Hendrick Motorsports' 269th NASCAR Cup Series victory, the most all-time for a team in the Cup Series. Ty Gibbs won the Grand National Series race from Charlotte, his second victory of the season. John Hunter Nemechek won the Truck race, his third victory of the season.
The #22 GPX Racing Porsche of Matt Campbell, Earl Bamber and Mathieu Jaminet won the Circuit Paul Ricard 1000 km.
Scott Redding won on Saturday, but Jonathan Rea won both World Superbike races on Sunday in Estoril. Steven Odendaal and Dominique Aegerter split the World Supersport races and Odendaal has three victories from four races this season.
Coming Up This Weekend
Formula One will be in Azerbaijan.
MotoGP crosses the Mediterranean to run in Barcelona.
NASCAR returns to Sonoma.
The European Le Mans Series keeps Circuit Paul Ricard busy.
There will be the 24 Hours Nürburgring with a World Touring Car Cup round tagging along for its season opener.
GT World Challenge America visits Virginia International Raceway.