Good company: Helio Castroneves wins Indy 500 for 4th time

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indianapolis 500 was meant to mark the return of some sort of normalcy, at least for the marquee sporting events that Americans find so meaningful.

For Helio Castroneves, Indy provided a professional rebirth that pushed him into an elite club that last welcomed a new member 30 years ago. He became just the fourth four-time winner of the Indy 500 on Sunday in front of 135,000 fans at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, easily the largest and loudest sporting event since the start of the pandemic.

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The race was postponed to August a year ago and held without spectators for the only time in its 105-year history. Given permission to open 40% of the grandstands this year, the exuberant crowd came in droves and went wild for Castroneves’ historic win for the old guys.

Biding his time until the moment was right, the veteran passed 24-year-old Alex Palou with two laps remaining and the frenzied crowd roared its approval. When the Brazilian took the checkered flag, he rushed to the fence for his traditional “Spiderman” climb that belied his 46 years.

Castroneves had been trying since 2009 to join A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears, his former mentor at Team Penske, as the only four-time winners of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Mears was the last driver to join the club in 1991.

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Castroneves became the fourth-oldest winner in Indianapolis 500 history, behind Al Unser (47, 1987), Bobby Unser (47, 1981) and Emerson Fittipaldi (46, 1993).

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