Coming into the Indianapolis 500, fan-favorite and three-time winner Helio Castroneves was searching for his fourth career victory in the event’s history. The last time he won the Indy 500 was 11 years ago in 2009. Since then, his best finish at Indy was second back in 2017.
Castroneves had even more of a reason to perform well in Sunday’s race. It was announced earlier this season that Castroneves and his teammates at Team Penske (Juan Pablo Montoya, Dane Cameron, and Ricky Taylor) would be out of a ride after ACURA announced they were ending their partnership in the IMSA program.
Despite the news, the Brazilian put his focus and efforts on his one-off Indy 500 start in hopes of catching a car owner’s eye for a potential full-time IndyCar ride in 2021 by having a solid run.
Beginning with last Sunday in qualifying, Castroneves didn’t have the result he wanted after qualifying 28th in the starting field of 33 drivers. He only knew that he could go up from there.
Once the green flag flew on an unusual Indy 500, Castroneves quietly ran outside the top 10 for most of the day, with it being tough to pass especially back in the pack. Though with the help of cautions, the Team Penske driver slowly but surely worked his way to the top 10 as the race neared its end.
While Castroneves never could lead any laps, he was up front a couple of times after playing different pit strategies running as high as second and he had a lucky caution come out that could have played in his favor. However, he would have to make a pit stop off balance with the leaders and would be mired in the middle of the pack again.
Once the checkered flag came under yellow-flag conditions due to Spencer Pigot’s late race wreck with four laps to go, Castroneves wound up finishing 11th after a hard day of work.
“I miss this thing so much,” Castroneves said. “I know I didn’t finish in the top 10. One spot behind, but let me tell you, what a great group of guys. They did a phenomenal job today. The No. 3 Pennzoil Chevrolet was not the strongest car out there, but we fought from 28th all the way up to 11th and we did everything we could. Obviously, we tried to take our chances with some of the yellows and it didn’t work out. It was very difficult to pass, however, and we hung on, and a top 11 was the best we could do. Again, I miss everyone. This was awesome, but now on to the next page and on to Road Atlanta (for the IMSA race).”