INDIANAPOLIS - Helio Castroneves became a highly improbable back-to-back winner of the Indianapolis 500 in an incredible finish that saw Paul Tracy's last-lap pass for the win negated by a crash and yellow. Nearly out of fuel, Castroneves took...
INDIANAPOLIS - Helio Castroneves became a highly improbable back-to-back winner of the Indianapolis 500 in an incredible finish that saw Paul Tracy's last-lap pass for the win negated by a crash and yellow.
Nearly out of fuel, Castroneves took the win under the yellow after Buddy Lazier and rookie Laurent Redon slammed the wall on the next-to-last lap. With eyeblink timing, Tracy began to pass Castroneves as the yellow came out. Which came first was in dispute, and Tracy's Team Kool Green immediately protested the finish.
"I think it was me that won," a stunned Tracy said. "I tried to go underneath (Castroneves) and he blocked me, and then I went around him on the outside and the yellow came out.."
"As far as we're concerned, we passed him before the yellow came out," said Tracy's team owner, Barry Green.
Indy Racing League officials indicated the race rules dictate that if a yellow is thrown, the running order reverts to the last completed lap. Video replays of the pass showed Castroneves slowing abruptly, and the yellow lights already on when Tracy completed his pass.
Castroneves, who won last year for Penske Racing as a rookie, was near tears after he did his trademark victory fence-climbing at the start-finish line.
"It's unbelievable," he said.
Castroneves emerged at the head of the pack after rookies Tony Kanaan and Tomas Scheckter both crashed while leading the 500. Scheckter had dominated the race, leading more than half the laps until he drilled the wall on lap 172.
The unofficial order of finish was Castroneves, Tracy, Felipe Giaffone, Alex Barron and Eddie Cheever Jr. in the top five.
Castroneves became the first back-to-back winner since Al Unser Sr. in 1970 and 1971. It was the 12th Indianapolis victory for team owner Roger Penske.