IRL: Castroneves preparing for attempt at third Indy 500

Castroneves bracing for pressure of three-peat chase at Indy. INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2002 -- Helio Castroneves bent down and admired his back-to-back countenances on auto racing's most famous trophy, the Borg-Warner Trophy, as the TV ...

Castroneves bracing for pressure of three-peat chase at Indy.

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2002 -- Helio Castroneves bent down and admired his back-to-back countenances on auto racing's most famous trophy, the Borg-Warner Trophy, as the TV cameras zeroed in on him and his beaming smile.

It was another special moment for the ebullient Castroneves, who has won the last two Indianapolis 500-Mile Races. Castroneves is undefeated at Indy, winning his first attempts.

Helio Castroneves happy with his face on the trophy.
Photo by IMS LLC.

On Jan. 21, Castroneves got his first view of the Borg-Warner Trophy with his two images on it during a midday ceremony in the Hall of Fame Museum at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"I think the guy right beside me is better looking than the other one," Castroneves said, comparing his 2001 likeness to 2002 image. He paused, flashed that room-illuminating smile, and added, "Just kidding.

"Definitely, to have your face on it once, it's already an honor. To put it on twice, I feel I am a blessed person. If you have faith, that guy upstairs makes dreams come true."

It was only 21 days into January, but already the pressure has begun to build on him regarding this year's Indianapolis 500. No one ever has won three Indianapolis 500-Mile Races in a row, so he'll have a chance on Race Day, May 25.

Castroneves admitted he has no idea how heavy the pressure will be as the race looms closer.

"To be honest, I'll be able to answer that when I come back here in May," said Castroneves, who drives for Marlboro Team Penske and owner Roger Penske.

"The first time in 2001, I did not know what it would be like. I had no pressure. The second time, I do believe I had a pressure because I was the defending champion of the place. This May, it'll be like, I'll come back and know what to do, or I'll be more nervous than ever. Who knows? It's just a matter of being patient and putting yourself in a situation that is exactly what you did in the previous years, and do it again."

Castroneves said he feels pressure before any race. But the pressure is relieved once the engines have started and the race begins.

"When I put my helmet on," he said, "it's myself and my car. We are attached. I feel very comfortable out there. That's the place I'm most comfortable, to be most honest.

"But sure, I feel so comfortable because I'm in command. I know what I'm doing. I guess that's why things go so well."

Many drivers who have won at Indy more than once say the first victory is the most memorable. But Castroneves said winning the second time was just as emotional for him. In 2001, he said the hectic schedule of competing in CART races in May and trying to run Indy didn't allow the magnitude of Indy sink in. That was different in 2002.

"I knew about the racetrack, I knew about the history," Castroneves said. "I knew everything except winning the second time. And when it hit me, for sure it was something definitely emotional, as you guys saw how happy I was climbing the fence again."

-irl/ims-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Roger Penske
Teams Team Penske