CASTRONEVES CAPS STORYBOOK MONTH WITH THIRD INDIANAPOLIS 500 WIN INDIANAPOLIS (Sunday, May 24, 2009) - An emotional Helio Castroneves choked back tears in Victory Lane after becoming the first foreign-born three-time winner of the...
CASTRONEVES CAPS STORYBOOK MONTH WITH THIRD INDIANAPOLIS 500 WIN
INDIANAPOLIS (Sunday, May 24, 2009) - An emotional Helio Castroneves choked back tears in Victory Lane after becoming the first foreign-born three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500.
The affable Brazilian performed his signature fence climb along the front straightaway after taking the checkered flag in his third race since returning to the IndyCar Series following an acquittal in federal court on charges of tax evasion.
"This is incredible," Castroneves said. "I think my tears speak for everything. What a great team. I just have to thank, first of all, the Lord for giving me this opportunity, to be strong, to have a family that I have. I have to think Roger (Penske), Tim (Cindric), my guys, Phillip Morris, all the associates (sponsors), Verizon, everybody because they gave my life back. I'm here today because of those guys. And obviously the fans. You guys don't understand. You guys kept me strong. You guys are the best. I'm honored to have fans like you. Thank you so much. Let's celebrate now."
Castroneves passed 2008 race winner Scott Dixon on Lap 142 and led the final 59 circuits around the historic 2.5-mile oval, beating 2005 winner Dan Wheldon to the finish line by 1.9819 seconds. Danica Patrick was third.
Castroneves is the ninth driver to win the Indianapolis 500 at least three times, and the first to do so since Rick Mears recorded the third of four race wins in 1988.
The win capped a perfect month for Castroneves, who was the first driver since Buddy Rice in 2004 to sweep the Peak Performance Pole Award, Indianapolis 500 Pit Stop Challenge and the race.
The win was the 15th in the Indianapolis 500 for Roger Penske, the most of any entrant.
Townsend Bell finished fourth and Penske Racing driver Will Power was fifth. Dixon finished sixth, and 2007 race winner Dario Franchitti was seventh. Dixon and Franchitti combined to lead 123 laps for Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
There were eight cautions during the race. The final incident on Lap 174 involved rookie Raphael Matos and veteran Vitor Meira. Meira was admitted to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis after sustaining fractures of the L1 and L2 vertebras. He will be treated with non-operative management under the supervision of Dr. Terry Trammell and fitted with a back brace.
INDIANAPOLIS 500 POST-RACE NOTES:
* Helio Castroneves wins his third Indianapolis 500, becoming the ninth driver to win the race at least three times. Castroneves also won in 2001 and 2002. Other three-time winners include: Louis Meyer (1928, 33, 36), Wilbur Shaw (1937, 39-40), Mauri Rose (1941, 47-48), Johnny Rutherford (1974, 76, 80) and Bobby Unser (1968, 75, 81). Four-time winners include: A.J. Foyt (1961, 64, 67, 77), Al Unser (1970-71, 78, 87) and Rick Mears (1979, 84, 88, 91).
* Castroneves became a three-time winner in his ninth Indianapolis 500 start. No other driver has become a three-time winner in fewer races. Louis Meyer became a three-time winner in 1936 in his 10th Indianapolis 500 race (nine as a starter and one as a relief driver for Wilbur Shaw in 1927.) A.J. Foyt Jr. also became a three-time winner in his 10th Indianapolis 500 start, in 1967.
* Castroneves is the 20th driver to win the "500" from the pole, the most of any starting position. The pole sitter has won the last two "500s" and four of the last six.
* Castroneves is the first driver to win the pole, Pit Stop Competition and the race since Buddy Rice in 2004.
* This is the second consecutive year the winner led both the first and last lap of the Indianapolis 500.
* Castroneves won a race from the pole for the eighth consecutive season, extending his series record.
* This is the 15th Indianapolis 500 win for Roger Penske, the most of any entrant. No other entrant has more than five.
* Team Penske has won five of the last nine Indianapolis 500s.
* This is the seventh time a Penske-owned car has won the Indianapolis 500 starting from the pole position. The other pole winning years for Penske were 1979 (Rick Mears), 1981 (Bobby Unser), 1988 (Rick Mears), 1991 (Rick Mears), 1994 (Al Unser Jr.) and 2006 (Sam Hornish Jr.).
* This is the 31st IndyCar Series victory for Team Penske, second among all teams. Andretti Green Racing has 35 victories.
* This is Castroneves' 15th career victory in the IndyCar Series, tying Dan Wheldon for third all-time. Sam Hornish Jr. has 19 wins, and Scott Dixon has 17. Castroneves' last victory came in the 2008 season finale at Chicagoland Speedway.
* Castroneves has 91 top-10 finishes, most in IndyCar Series history.
* Castroneves has led 74 races, most in IndyCar Series history.
* Castroneves has finished in the top 10 in eight of his nine Indianapolis 500s.
* Dan Wheldon finished second, his fourth top-four finish at Indianapolis in seven starts. The last time past winners finished first and second was in 1993 when Emerson Fittipaldi and Arie Luyendyk finished 1-2.
* This is Wheldon's second top-five finish of the season and his best finish since second at Nashville last July.
* Danica Patrick finished third, her best career finish at Indianapolis and the best-ever finish for a woman. She finished fourth as a rookie in 2005. Patrick has four top-10 finishes at Indianapolis in five starts.
* Patrick and Tony Kanaan are the only drivers with three top-five finishes to start the 2009 season.
* Townsend Bell finished fourth, improving 20 positions during the race to record a career-best finish. His previous best finish in the "500" was 10th in 2008. His previous best IndyCar Series finish was fifth at Nashville in 2004.
* Will Power finished fifth in his second "500." Last year, he finished 13th.
* Power has finished sixth or better in all three of his starts this season.
* Dario Franchitti finished seventh in his first start in the Indianapolis 500 since winning the race in 2007. He has finished seventh or better in four consecutive "500s."
* Franchitti led 50 laps and has led 84 laps in his last two "500s."
* Ed Carpenter finished eighth, his second consecutive top-10 finish in the Indianapolis 500. Last year, he finished fifth.
* This is Carpenter's second consecutive top-10 finish of the season.
* Paul Tracy finished ninth, his second consecutive top-10 finish in the Indianapolis 500. He finished second in 2002.
* Hideki Mutoh finished 10th, his second consecutive top-10 finish in the Indianapolis 500. He finished seventh as a rookie last year.
* Alex Tagliani was the highest-finishing rookie in the field, finishing 11th after starting 33rd.
* A record 19 cars finished on the lead lap in the 2009 Indianapolis 500. The previous record for most cars finishing on the lead lap is 16 in 1959.
* The 2009 and 2000 Indianapolis 500 races had only six lead changes, which is the fewest number of lead changes for the full 500 mile distance since 1965. The rain-shortened (133 lap) 1973 Indianapolis 500 race had four lead changes. The record for the fewest lead changes in the Indianapolis 500 race is 1 in 1930.
* This is the 11th time car number #3 has won the Indianapolis 500, the most times ever for an individual car number.
* A.J. Foyt IV finished 16th and completed the full 500-mile distance. This is the first time a Foyt finished on the lead lap since 1979 when his grandfather, four-time winner A.J. Foyt Jr., finished on the lead lap in second place.
* The top lap leader in the 2009 Indianapolis 500 was defending winner Scott Dixon, who led 73 laps and finished sixth. He also was the top lap leader (115 laps) in the 2008 Indianapolis 500.
* The three female drivers in the 2009 Indianapolis 500 field completed 599 laps out of a possible 600. Danica Patrick finished 200 laps, Sarah Fisher 200 laps and Milka Duno 199 laps.
* 19th-place finisher John Andretti completed the full 500-mile distance as did 16th-place finisher #41 A.J. Foyt IV. This is the only time a Foyt and an Andretti completed the full 500-mile distance in the same race. The Foyt family was first represented in the 1958 Indianapolis 500, and the Andretti family was first represented in 1965.
* The last time there was a yellow flag on the first lap was the 2001 Indianapolis 500 when pole sitter Scott Sharp crashed in Turn 1.
* When #3 Helio Castroneves led the first lap, it was the third time he has led the opening lap of the Indianapolis 500. The other two years were 2003 when his teammate, Gil de Ferran, won the race and in 2006 when his teammate, Sam Hornish Jr., won the race.
* When #5 Mario Moraes crashed before completing a lap of the 2009 Indianapolis 500, it marked the third time that a car starting in the seventh position crashed before completing a lap. Tom Sneva (1986) and Scott Brayton (1988) were the other two occurrences.
* In 2008, the youngest driver in the field, Graham Rahal, crashed and finished 33rd. In 2009, the second-youngest driver in the field, #5 Mario Moraes crashed and finished 33rd.
* The 45,000 mile mark in Indianapolis 500 race history was reached at the completion of the 27th lap.
* #6 Ryan Briscoe took the lead for the first time in his Indianapolis 500 career on Lap 53. This is Briscoe's fourth Indianapolis 500 start.
* When #11 Tony Kanaan crashed on Lap 98, it ended his Indianapolis 500-record streak of leading seven consecutive races (2002-08). The 2009 event is the only Indianapolis 500 he never led.
* When #3 Helio Castroneves took the lead on Lap 142, it represented the 1,000th lead change in Indianapolis 500 history.
Dennis Weaks has done almost everything but drive race cars in the IndyCar community during his 29 years in the business. He has probably driven several times the number of miles as any of today's current drivers as a transporter driver for teams throughout the years. In addition, he has been a mechanic, a tire changer, a fueler.
But for the last nine years, he has had the ultimate job, driving private motor coaches for the IndyCar Series and others, And for the past 1½ years, he has handled the motor coach for IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 champion Scott Dixon.
DENNIS WEAKS: "It seems like I'm retiring on top. It's a perfect world. I'm driving for Scott now, and I keep it (motorhome) clean and stocked up for him. I worked for A.J., Menard, Ganassi, Hayhoe, Hemelgarn. I'd do any racing deal. I fueled and did tires for 20 years, and the last nine I've driven coaches. As a kid, I used to spot for ABC with Dan Laycock. I've had a great time. My dad was taking me in '62 or '63. That got me hooked. When I come in here, I still have goose bumps. It's hallowed ground."
Petty Motorsports/Dreyer & Reinbold chief mechanic David Janquart was named as the recipient of the Clint Brawner Mechanical Excellence Award. Janquart is the chief mechanic for the No. 43 Window World entry driven by veteran John Andretti.
Presented annually since 1987 by the Clint Brawner Foundation and underwritten by Firestone Racing, the award recognizes an Indy 500 chief mechanic who "exemplifies the mechanical and scientific creativity, ingenuity, perseverance, dedication, enthusiasm and expertise" of its legendary namesake. Clint Brawner was the chief mechanic on winning cars in 51 AAA- and USAC-sanctioned national championship races, and six season champions.
Janquart received a $5,000 check and plaque to commemorate the honor. Presenting the awards were Carl Gehlhausen of the Clint Brawner Foundation and Page Mader, Firestone Racing's general manager of race tire development. Janquart's name also will be inscribed on a permanent trophy housed inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.
DAVID JANQUART: "To put my name on a plaque next to all those people, I get a chill when I think about it. It's unbelievable to think I was even considered for the award. It's an awesome achievement that I didn't even expect. I was just out there doing my job as best as I could."
Three-time Indianapolis 500 starter Didier Theys arrived to the track this weekend on only his second trip back to the Speedway since running in the 1994 editiion of the race. He is entertaining executives of the Lista Co., on the first trip to the "500," among them Fredy Lienhard, his co-driver in sports car racing.
DIDIER THEYS: "I was here for the first Formula One race, but that's it. I raced for 32 years, I'm 52 years old, and my last race was in a Porsche Spyder at Silverstone last September. I'm pretty pleased with sports car racing. It was a good car and a good team to be with. What I miss in Indy car racing is a good ride for the season."
KV Racing Technology has added FORDAHL-FOQ Group as an associate sponsor for the 2009 Indianapolis 500. FORDAHL-FOQ Group, one of the leading global players in the industry of time components for telecommunications systems, will be an associate sponsor on the No. 15 GEICO-KV Racing Technology machine driven by Paul Tracy.
KEVIN KALKHOVEN (Co-owner, KV Racing Technology): "We are pleased to welcome back FORDAHL-FOQ Group as a sponsor of KV Racing Technology for this year's Indy 500. "FORDAHL-FOQ Group is an outstanding company and a leader in the industry. This is a particularly welcome announcement since FORDAHL-FOQ previously was a sponsor of KVRT in 2007, so it is like teaming up with an old friend."
NILS ENGDAHL (President, FORDAHL-FOQ Group): "We are proud to support KV Racing Technology and Paul Tracy in this year's effort for the Indianapolis 500. As Kevin (Kalkhoven) said, we are old friends teaming up again. This is a great opportunity for our group to re-assess our presence on the North American market, and we are also very happy to see a great driver like Paul back on the track."
HVM Racing is officially fit to be in the pit. The pit crew members dropped 107 pounds in a two-month weight-loss challenge - seven pounds beyond their goal of 100.
The HVM team kicked off the "Gotta Be Fit to Be in the Pit" challenge at the IndyCar Series season opener in St. Petersburg on April 5. Driver E.J. Viso and Dr. Luigi Gratton of Herbalife, a sponsor of HVM and Viso, encouraged the crew members to lose weight for their own well-being and to ensure strong performance in the pit.
Gratton offered medical guidance and Herbalife nutritional products throughout the challenge to help the team meet its goal. Herbalife is rewarding the trimmed-down crew members this week with new race uniforms.
KEITH WIGGINS: (Owner, HVM Racing): "Herbalife has been a great partner to work with, and this weight-loss challenge has been a good thing for everyone involved. How many team sponsors do you know that actually help improve the fitness of the team members?"
MICHAEL O. JOHNSON (Chairman and CEO, Herbalife): "We're proud of the team for meeting their goal and look forward to seeing them in their new uniforms. We'll continue to support the team to live a healthy, active lifestyle."
NASCAR legend Richard Petty is at the Speedway today to watch his Richard Petty Motorsports/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing No. 43 Window World car driven by John Andretti. It's Petty's first year of ownership at the Indianapolis 500.
RICHARD PETTY: "We want to run all day and not have any trouble, and we'll do pretty good. I don't think he's going to run up there and pass everybody, but if everything follows the way we want, he can run in the top 10 with no trouble. We had a struggle last weekend to get John involved in the race. We finally made it on a last deal, and we were all excited about that. He's had all week now to settle down and get ready for the race. We talked about it getting the car in after the first day of qualifying. We knew he wasn't fast enough then and went out to try to get better and crashed the car. So the crew spent all that time getting back to where he was at. They had a tough time doing it, but they got it in, and now we're ready to go. We're all excited and ready for the big deal."
(On his emotions watching pre-race festivites): "Well, seeing all these people and all these servicemen go by here and everybody standing and cheering them, it just makes your heart feel good. All these people appreciate what these guys and gals are doing to protect us, so that we can come out and do stuff like this. That's a big part of this."
Actor Josh Duhamel will drive the Chevrolet Camaro Official Pace Car leading the field to the start of the 2009 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. During caution periods in the race, three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford, from Fort Worth, Texas, will be the driver. Jim Haynes, from Phoenix, will serve as observer from the Pace Car. Under the caution, cars will close up behind the Pace Car.
JOSH DUHAMEL: (On driving the Pace Car so far): "I feel better. I feel better than the first day, just getting used to that speed coming around that fourth turn. But after working with Johnny Rutherford, I call him Coach Rutherford now because he's been my mentor the last few days, I feel good. I feel like I trust the car. It holds in that corner, which took me a little bit getting used to. I think it's a natural sort of instinct to want to slow down when going into a turn, but not here, not at Indy. You've got to press the accelerator going into the fourth turn here."
(On what he said and how he felt when he was asked to drive the car): "Yes. Absolutely. Sign me up. When do you want me there?"
(On enjoying racing): "Oh yeah, especially the Indy stuff. I was a big dirt track fan growing up. We have what they call the Nodak Speedway (in his native North Dakota). My Dad would take me out pretty much every weekend in the summer. So ever since then I followed it."
In the 13 Indianapolis 500 Mile Races since the inception of the IndyCar Series, only two drivers who led at Lap 100 have won the race (15.4 percent), and only six drivers who led at Lap 190 in the races that have gone the distance have won the race (54.5 percent). In the last five seasons, when the same basic car and formula have been used, there has been at least one lead change in the final 10 laps three times.
Artist Thomas Kinkade met with the media this morning. Kinkade, known as The Painter of Light™, is the featured artist for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Centennial Era. He painted a special portrait for the Centennial Era Gala on Feb. 27 and also painted the portrait that appears on the covers of the 2009 Indianapolis 500 Official Program and Indianapolis 500 Media Guide.
THOMAS KINKADE (On the passion and work that went into the painting): "The passion I have is to capture memories, to evoke the emotional connection we have to an experience. I came out here and stood up on the bleachers and looked around, and I saw all the elements of the track. It was empty at the time. But I saw the stadium, how the track laid out, the horizon, the skyline of Indianapolis and the Pagoda. I saw it all in my imagination. I began thinking, 'I want to get this energy - what I call the excitement of the moment- into this painting.' As I began working on it, I thought, 'Well you have this big piece of asphalt, the huge spectator stands; I've got to do something to get some movement.' So I just started throwing flags into it. It gives it kind of a patriotic excitement."
(On some of the fine details in the painting): "I just love the idea of the diversity of the crowd. I like having characters in the crowd. I started hiding people in it. I put Norman Rockwell in there. As far as I know he never went to the track, but he did now. Because he's one of my heroes in the race world, I put a portrait of Dale Earnhardt. I tried to represent the different generations. I view this painting as a piece of history. I will tell you, of the best events of my artistic career doing sporting events, number two would have been when I did the farewell portrait for Yankee Stadium. But the greatest event was taking this painting down through downtown Indianapolis during the parade (Saturday). That was fabulous."
Scott Dixon was expecting this weekend to take possession of the Halberg Award statue that he won in February as New Zealand's Sportsman of the Year. But the 2008 Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series champion was surprised to learn that he's been inducted into the MotorSport New Zealand Wall of Fame.
The MotorSport Wall of Fame was established in 1994 and located in MotorSport House as a permanent reminder of the achievements of past and present members who, through their endeavors, have been instrumental in bringing motorsport achievements to the world at large. The Halberg Awards are the country's premier sporting awards, which recognize teams and individuals. Dixon joins other famous Kiwi drivers, including Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme, who have made indelible marks on motorsport at the national or international level. The last person inducted was Dave McMillan in 2006.
Dixon, who started racing at age 13, won three championships in New Zealand before going to Australia in 1997, where he won the Australian Drivers Championship. Since moving to the United States in 1999, he has won the IndyCar Series title in 2003 and '08 and the 500 Mile Race. He was awarded MotorSport New Zealand's prestigious Jim Clark Trophy in 1999, 2001 and 2004.
SCOTT DIXON: "I'm still pretty young at 28, and to be alongside a lot of the greats that have come from there is pretty special. I'm kind of overwhelmed between getting this honor and winning the Sportsman of the Year award. They are two of the biggest prizes as far as motor racing and sports in New Zealand. I'm truly humbled."
STEVEN KENNEDY (President, MotorSport New Zealand): "It is a tough road from New Zealand because drivers have to overcome the challenges of distance and funding. But with talent like Scott's and the backing of New Zealanders passionate about the sport, it just goes to show what can be achieved by young drivers from this country. Scott Dixon is an elite athlete at the very top of his sport and one we can all be proud of."
Air Force Gen. Thomas Stafford, commander of the Apollo 10 mission that in May 1969 included a test of the lunar module in lunar orbit, says that Luczo Dragon Racing driver Raphael Matos would "make a good astronaut candidate." Stafford is attending the race as a guest of the team.
Stafford was cited in the "Guinness Book of World Records" for highest speed ever attained by man - on the Apollo 10 re-entry (24,791 statute mph, which would be the equivalent of a lap around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway in about three-tenths of a second).
Stafford logged his fourth space flight as commander of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project mission in July 1975, culminating in the first meeting in space between American astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts. He was the one who shook hands with the Russian cosmonaut.
GEN. THOMAS STAFFORD: "I was here in 1964 and have watched it every year since on TV, but it's great to be back at this great race and historic track. It's great to see a lot of the space technology from our programs developed into these race cars. I'm very proud that the Luczo Dragon race team would recognize the Air Force and the men and women who serve and have served."
Actor and entertainer Jim Nabors sang "Back Home Again in Indiana" for the 31st time today in the pre-Indianapolis 500 festivities.
JIM NABORS: "It's the biggest day of the year. I always look forward to it more than anything. It's sort of a tradition for me. I never expected to be part of the tradition, but I'm just thrilled to be part of it."
(On how he feels each year when is at the track): "I get pretty nervous. You look out at that crowd, you kidding? It's pretty wild. There's nothing like it."
(On how his day progresses here at the Speedway): "I'm just kind of standing up there with Mari (Hulman George), and we kind of do our thing, our duet. I sing, and she says, 'Start your engines.' It's a really indescribable feeling."
(On singing "Back Home Again in Indiana" for the first time at the Speedway, in 1972): "The first time I ever sang it I knew the song. I'd heard it all my life, but I wanted to be sure. I didn't know I was going to sing it, first of all. I wrote the lyrics on my hand. I didn't even know what the intro was going to be or if it was in my key or whatever, you know? You never know. They can really get you there. It was pretty exciting, and I really enjoyed it."
(On being part of the festivities for so many years): "I feel very blessed and very rewarded that the people of Indiana kind of accepted me as one of theirs. I really do, and I'm very grateful."
Indianapolis 500 veteran and ABC IndyCar Series analyst Scott Goodyear recently became the national spokesperson for the Tire Rack Street Survival driver education program, designed to help young drivers learn the skills and gain the experience needed to stay alive behind the wheel.
In the Tire Rack Street Survival program, teens learn from experienced, knowledgeable driving coaches how to control a vehicle, rather than just operate one. They are taught how their actions govern a car's responses, what the vehicles limitations are and how to avoid accidents. Students use their personal car or family's car so new skills can be translated to their daily driving experiences.
One-day Tire Track Street Survival classes typically take place on weekends and are open to permitted and licensed drivers ages 16-21. The cost is $60 per student, and some insurance companies offer premium discounts to graduates. To find a program, visit www.streetsurvival.org or call (864) 329-1919.
Goodyear's son participated in a Tire Rack Street Survival program near their hometown of Carmel, Ind., which inspired him to become a national spokesperson.
SCOTT GOODYEAR: "I firmly believe Tire Rack Street Survival is the best in giving young drivers valuable experience behind the wheel."
Actor Josh Duhamel slapped hands with three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Johnny Rutherford upon exiting the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro Pace Car.
JOSH DUHAMEL: "Wow! What a rush. I loved that. I expected (the field) to be closer, but I just kept on the gas."
Prize money and other awards will be announced at the Indianapolis 500 Victory Celebration on Monday evening, May 25.
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.