Helio Castroneves (C) celebrates after winning the 2021 Indy 500 on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI | License Photo
May 30 (UPI) -- Helio Castroneves won the 105th edition of the Indy 500 after holding off Alex Palou on Sunday in front of more than 135,000 fans at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana.
Castroneves, who also won the race in 2001, 2002 and 2009, joined A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears as the only four-time winners of the event. Castroneves passed Palou for good with two laps left and finished 0.4928 seconds ahead of him for the victory.
"It means a lot," Castroneves said of the reception following his victory. "I've been in the sport for a long time, and I hope I have more friends than actual enemies. And even those who don't like me, I hope they understand that this is a very difficult place to achieve. And that meant we did something very special."
The 46-year-old Castroneves, who was one of the oldest drivers in the field, also became the fourth-oldest winner in Indianapolis 500 history, behind only Al Unser (47, 1987), Bobby Unser (47, 1981) and Emerson Fittipaldi (46, 1993).
Castroneves gave a shoutout to Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and golf star Phil Mickelson after taking the checkered flag at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 50-year-old Mickelson and the 43-year-old Brady both won major championships this year.
"I've run two races this year and won two races, I'd say that's pretty good," Castroneves said. "I don't know if this is a good comparison, but Tom Brady won the Super Bowl and Phil Mickelson won the [PGA Championship], so here you go. The older guys are still kicking the younger guys' butts."
It was the first Indy 500 win for Meyer Shank Racing. Castroneves earned his first three wins at Indianapolis with Team Penske.
Castroneves' former Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud, who won the 2019 Indy 500, finished third, followed by 21-year-old Pato O'Ward. Ed Carpenter finished fifth.
Santino Ferrucci (sixth), Sage Karam (seventh), Rinus VeeKay (eighth), Juan Pablo Montoya (ninth) and Tony Kanaan (10th) rounded out the top 10. Scott Dixon, who edged Colton Herta to win his fourth Indy 500 pole, came in 17th.
Last year, no fans were allowed to attend the race that was delayed from May to August because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, celebrities and fans were back and witnessed a historic event.
This year's race was the fastest in Indy 500 history, with an average speed of 190.690 mph. That broke the previous record of 187.433 mph, which was set in 2013.