Indy 500: Castroneves already eyeing the future

CASTRONEVES ALREADY EYEING THE FUTURE INDIANAPOLIS (Monday, May 25, 2009) - Without hesitation, Helio Castroneves points to the locations of his two likenesses on the Borg-Warner Trophy. A third spot is reserved. More are...

CASTRONEVES ALREADY EYEING THE FUTURE

INDIANAPOLIS (Monday, May 25, 2009) - Without hesitation, Helio Castroneves points to the locations of his two likenesses on the Borg-Warner Trophy. A third spot is reserved. More are projected.

Castroneves on May 24 became the ninth driver with at least three Indianapolis 500 victories, taking control of the race in the final 10 laps to lead Panther Racing's Dan Wheldon and Andretti Green Racing's Danica Patrick across the Yard of Bricks in front of a wildly enthusiastic crowd at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The goal, as four-time 500-Mile Race winner Rick Mears says, soon after the euphoria fades is always the next one.

"You realize that not a lot of people ever get an opportunity to run here let alone win it," said Mears, a consultant to Team Penske. "The odds of winning it more than once are very slim. Then you learn more about it, more about what it takes and how difficult it really is to do. It makes each one special but you always want another."

Mears joins Al Unser and A.J. Foyt as the four-time winners. Louis Meyer, Wilbur Shaw, Mauri Rose, Johnny Rutherford and Bobby Unser each have three victories.

"I feel honored to be in this category of drivers," Castroneves said. "But without a team, without good people surrounding you, you cannot make that. Like I said many times, Team Penske has (15 times) so they are prepared for this race."

At age 34, Castroneves will have numerous opportunities. Unser was five days shy of his 48th birthday when he won his fourth Indy 500 in 1987. A.J. Foyt was 42 (1977) and Mears was 39 (1991).

"You can't be thinking about five without making three," Castroneves said. "We just made three and now thinking about the fourth. But I will think about it, dream about it, but we've got to work for it. Certainly we have the team to do that, but we have a long way. Right now for me, I'm just going to enjoy this moment because it's very special."

The win also creates tremendous momentum for Castroneves for the remainder of the 2009 season. Since returning to the series at Long Beach, Castroneves has recorded three top-10 finishes, climbing from 19th to 10th to second in points, reminiscent of another Team Penske driver, Gil de Ferran, who battled for a championship in 2003 despite missing a race.

Like Castroneves, de Ferran won the Indianapolis 500 that year. De Ferran went on to finish second overall, just 18 points behind Scott Dixon.

Castroneves is only five points out of first and has 13 races remaining to make a run for his first championship.

***

The 2009 IndyCar Series season continues May 31 with the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 at The Milwaukee Mile. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The radio broadcast also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Husar's House of Fine Diamonds 100 on May 31 at The Milwaukee Mile. The race will be telecast at 4 p.m. on June 1 by VERSUS.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Dan Wheldon , Rick Mears , Bobby Unser , A.J. Foyt , Danica Patrick , Johnny Rutherford , Al Unser
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske