SPEEDWAY, Ind. (WISH/AP) - Helio Castroneves won the Indianapolis 500 for the third time.
He beat 2005 winner Dan Wheldon by more than 2 seconds. Danica
Patrick was third, the best finish by a woman in Indianapolis.
Castroneves, who started from the pole, had a half-second lead
over teammate Ryan Briscoe before a hard crash by Vitor Meira and
rookie Raphael Motos brought out the yellow caution with 26 laps to
go. Briscoe had to come in for fuel, moving Wheldon up to second
and Patrick third. Patrick's finish eclipsed her historic
fourth-place finish as a rookie in 2005.
The 34-year-old Brazilian was charactaristically emotional
after his win.
"This is incredible. I think my tears speak for everything. What
a great team. I just have to thank, first of all, the Lord for
giving me this opportunity, to be strong, to have a family that I
...And obviously the fans. You guys don't understand, you guys
kept me strong. You guys are the best. I'm honored to have fans
like you. Thank you so much. Let's celebrate now," said
The green came out after 183 of the 200 laps and Castroneves
began pulling away for good.
Castroneves capped a perfect month of May with the biggest
win of all, pulling away to capture his third Indianapolis 500 just
5½ weeks after being acquitted of tax evasion charges.
Castroneves, who hopped back in his Team Penske race car as soon
as he was cleared of charges that could have sent him to prison for
six years, became just the ninth driver to win the historic race
three times — and he's only one win away from joining the
most elite group of all: four-time winners A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and
This day belonged to Castroneves, who pumped his fist all the
way down the final straightaway.
"I want to climb the fence," said the driver known as
"Spiderman," referring to his signature celebration.
Then he did just that, climbing out of his car after the victory
lap and scaling the fence along the main grandstand with his pit
"This is incredible," said Castroneves, who was sobbing as he
got the trademark bottle of milk.
Roger Penske earned his record 15th Indy win as a car owner.
When he leaned in to hug Castroneves in Victory Lane, the driver
said, "Thanks for giving my life back."
Hundreds of thousands of race fans packed the track for the 2009
Indy 500. All major routes coming into the Indianapolis Motor
Speedway were jammed with traffic Sunday morning. The gates opened
at 6 a.m.