IRL: Indy 500: Chevy race report

Chevrolet powers Castroneves to second Indy 500 victory. INDIANAPOLIS, May 26, 2002 -- There was controversy at the finish of today's Indianapolis 500, but there was never a doubt that Chevrolet dominated the final results. Chevrolet engines...

Chevrolet powers Castroneves to second Indy 500 victory.

INDIANAPOLIS, May 26, 2002 -- There was controversy at the finish of today's Indianapolis 500, but there was never a doubt that Chevrolet dominated the final results. Chevrolet engines swept the top four finishing positions and powered 14 of the first 15 finishers. A Chevy Indy V8 powered defending champion Helio Castroneves to the first repeat victory in the 500-mile race since 1971 and secured a record 12th Indy 500 title for team owner Roger Penske.

Chevrolet led the start and the finish in the Bowtie's return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 50th Anniversary Corvette Pace Car brought the field of 33 starters to the green flag; 200 laps later, Castroneves was first to the checkered flag. The race ended under caution after a furious three-hour duel contested at an average speed of 166.499 mph. Paul Tracy was second in Team Green's Chevrolet Dallara, followed by Felipe Giaffone in Mo Nunn Racing's Chevy-powered Dallara. Alex Barron was the highest finishing rookie, taking fourth place with Blair Racing's Chevrolet Dallara.

Tracy believed he had won the race after passing Castroneves in the third turn on lap 198, but race officials ruled that the yellow flag had been displayed before the pass.

Castroneves stretched his Chevy's fuel mileage to the maximum, running the final 42 laps (105 miles) on 35 gallons of methanol. He made his final pit stop on the 158th lap of the 200-lap race, and he finished on fumes.

"I had enough fuel to finish -- I was so happy!" Castroneves exclaimed. "During the race you have to keep the faith. I was keeping the faith to just give me a chance. All of a sudden, that's what happened. No doubt, without the yellow we might not have finished. Emotion? I was crying like a baby."

Penske Racing scored four previous Indy 500 victories with Chevrolet power, including Chevy's last win at the Brickyard by Emerson Fittipaldi in 1993. The most successful team in Indy 500 history put Chevy back in the winner's circle today in the Bowtie Division's return to the Brickyard.

"Reliability has been a trademark of our team," said Roger Penske. "If you go back and look at the reliability and how many times we have been able to finish, to me that's critical. I think the reliability has made the difference."

Tracy finished second in the box score, but believed he had scored a moral victory after a difficult month in Indianapolis.

"We had a good race car, but we couldn't get the speed out of it in qualifying," said Tracy, who started 29th in the 33-car field. "When it comes time to race, I'm always ready to rock 'n' roll. We worked our way to the front diligently. I didn't think I had a chance with two laps to go. If we didn't win, it was still a great day for Helio and a great day for us."

Tracy scored the last victory for Chevy's first-generation Indy V8 at Laguna Seca in 1993, and he nearly posted another Chevrolet victory in his first Indy 500 appearance since 1995.

"The engine ran great today," he reported. "I have to thank everyone at Speedway Engines; they did a great job for us this month. We learned a lot, and that's the main thing. I think the next time we come back, we'll have a better understanding of how everything works."

There was only one reported engine problem among the 26 Chevrolet entries that started the race. Ten of the 11 drivers who completed all 500 miles used Chevy Indy V8 engines.

"The engine was good the whole day," said third-place finisher Felipe Giaffone. "I had no problems at all, and it was strong from the beginning today."

Chevrolet's tradition at Indianapolis began with company co-founder and namesake Louis Chevrolet, who competed four times in the 500-mile classic. Today's race added another chapter to the Chevrolet chronicle.

"One year ago, we announced that Chevrolet would return to the Indianapolis 500," said Chevrolet General Manager Kurt Ritter. "We kept that promise and underscored it with Chevrolet's first Indy 500 victory since 1993. This win showed that wherever there is a winner's circle, from Indianapolis to Daytona and Le Mans, Chevy will be there. It was a great day for Chevrolet, from the start of the race when the 50th Anniversary Corvette Pace Car led the field to the green flag to the finish when Helio Castroneves took the checkered flag for our dealers, our customers and millions of Chevy enthusiasts."

"Today marked the sixth consecutive Indy 500 victory for General Motors engines and the fifth straight win for Chevrolet this season," noted GM Racing Executive Director Herb Fishel. "That is a tribute to the GM engineers who designed and developed the engines, to the suppliers who produced the components and to the builders who assembled the motors. We are now applying the knowledge that GM Racing has gained in six years of open-wheel competition to develop the next-generation Chevy Indy V8 for 2003. It's clear that the IRL formula of affordable technology has produced outstanding racing, and we welcome the intense competition among manufacturers that we expect in the future."

Castroneves' victory gave him a 26-point lead (195-169) over his Penske Racing teammate Gil de Ferran in the championship standings after five of 15 races. Sam Hornish Jr., who led the standings going into the Indy 500, fell to third with 159 points after a brush with the wall on lap 74 relegated him to the 25th finishing position.

The race for the IRL championship will resume under the lights on Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway on June 8.

Track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 2.5-mile oval
Winner: Helio Castroneves, Penske Racing Chevrolet Dallara
Margin of Victory: Finished under caution
Average Speed: 166.499 mph
Pole: Bruno Junqueira/Chevrolet, 231.342 mph
Fastest Lap: Tomas Scheckter/Infiniti, 226.499 mph

Laps Led: Chevrolet 115, Infiniti 85
Starters: Chevrolet 26, Infiniti 7
Running at Finish: Chevrolet 18, Infiniti 5

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (after 5 of 15 events)
Driver/Engine/Points (victories in parentheses)
1. Helio Castroneves/Chevrolet, 195 (2)
2. Gil de Ferran/Chevrolet, 169
3. Sam Hornish Jr./Chevrolet, 159 (2)
4. Felipe Giaffone/Chevrolet, 140
5. Alex Barron/Chevrolet, 109

Manufacturer/Points (victories in parentheses)
1. Chevrolet, 50 (5)
2. Infiniti, 35

June 8, Boomtown 500, Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, Texas; 1.5-mile oval, 200 laps
TV: ESPN, 8 p.m. Eastern


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Felipe Giaffone , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Bruno Junqueira , Paul Tracy , Alex Barron , Emerson Fittipaldi , Roger Penske , Sam Hornish Jr. , Mo Nunn
Teams Team Penske