Indianapolis 500 victory goes to Castroneves

Helio Castroneves took advantage of a late-race restart following an accident involving Raphael Matos and Vitor Meira to build and maintain a lead to the finish of the 93rd Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. Scampering to a margin of over two seconds in...

Helio Castroneves took advantage of a late-race restart following an accident involving Raphael Matos and Vitor Meira to build and maintain a lead to the finish of the 93rd Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. Scampering to a margin of over two seconds in the final laps, Castroneves was unchallenged by runner-up Dan Wheldon and third-place finisher Danica Patrick.

Meira and Matos collided on the front straightaway on Lap 173 to set up Castroneves' run to his third Indy 500 championship. Castroneves also won the race in 2001 and 2002.

The win was team owner Roger Penske's record fifteenth victory at the Speedway's premier race and the biggest open-wheel event of the IndyCar season. The victor stands to collect nearly fifteen million dollars for the day.

The victory also left Castroneves' tax troubles in the distant rear-view mirror. He was acquitted of IRS charges of evasion earlier this year. Choking back tears, Castroneves could barely speak the words to express his joy. "This is incredible," he said. "I think my tears speak for all I've been through. Thank the Lord for giving me this team, my guys, and family- and fans-for giving me my life back."

"We never gave up, we fought to the end," said Wheldon. "Though we didn't have enough for Helio today." Wheldon won the race in 2005.

"What're you gonna' do?" said Patrick of the pursuit, "We were flat the whole way 'round there at the end. I wish we'd had a better shot at it."

Townsend Bell was fourth, his best career finish at the Brickyard, followed by Will Power and defending Indy champion Scott Dixon. Dario Franchitti was seventh, Ed Carpenter finished eighth, Canadian Paul Tracy ninth and Hideki Mutoh tenth.

Thirty-six year old Alex Tagliani, officially driving as a rookie in this race though he has a long history of competition in the former CART series, was the best-placing first-year man with his eleventh place mark. He was followed by Tomas Scheckter, Alex Lloyd, Scott Sharp and Ryan Briscoe through fifteenth place.

Brit Justin Wilson tapped the SAFER barrier in Turn One to bring out the yellow flag on Lap 160, setting up a round of final pitstops for the field.

Tony Kanaan suffered a mechanical failure along the back straightaway that ended his race near half-way. Oriol Servia lost fuel pressure suddenly to bring his race to a close as well.

Two young American lions, Graham Rahal and Marco Andretti, fell victim to accident early in the race, as did veteran driver Davey Hamilton and second year-man Ryan Hunter-Reay. Mario Moraes, the twenty year-old Brazilian who set a blistering pace during practice and qualified in seventh position, did not complete even a single official lap.

There were no serious injuries among drivers or crew in the race, although Meira was transported alert and awake to Indianapolis Methodist Hospital for further evaluation of back pain.

The IndyCar series takes no break this week before returning to action this weekend at the famous Milwaukee Mile on June 1st.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Justin Wilson , Davey Hamilton , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Oriol Servia , Graham Rahal , Townsend Bell , Dan Wheldon , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Ryan Briscoe , Marco Andretti , Alex Lloyd , Will Power , Roger Penske , Mario Moraes , Danica Patrick , Ed Carpenter , Vitor Meira