For much of the 105th running of The Greatest Spectacle in Racing, the youth movement of IndyCar racing looked poised to begin writing their own chapter in the history of the Indianapolis 500. But in the end, it was a famous face who added to his legacy as one of the greatest to ever race at Indy.
20 years after his maiden Indianapolis 500 victory, IndyCar legend Hélio Castroneves outdueled young Álex Palou to win his fourth Indy 500, tying the all-time record for victories in the 500 mile race. Palou finished second, followed by Simon Pagenaud, Pato O'Ward, Ed Carpenter, Santino Ferrucci, Sage Karam, Rinus VeeKay, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Tony Kanaan.
Castroneves becomes the fourth driver in history to win the Indianapolis 500 four times, joining Rick Mears, Al Unser, and A.J. Foyt, while also becoming the fourth driver age 46 or older to win (Al Unser, Bobby Unser, Emerson Fittipaldi). Castroneves' victory is also his first driving for Meyer Shank Racing after winning his previous three Indianapolis 500s (2001, 2002, 2009) for Team Penske.
At 46 years old, Castroneves spent the final laps swapping the lead back and fourth with 24-year old Palou, overtaking him down the front straightaway with two laps to go to take the lead for the final time. Catching lapped traffic on the final lap, Castroneves was able to keep Palou from getting a run, allowing him to take the checkered flag and sparking off an ecstatic post-race celebration, which included his signature "Spiderman" celebration of climbing the catchfence.
"I don't know if this is a good comparison or not, but Tom Brady won the Super Bowl, Phil Mickelson won The Masters, and now here we go. So the old guys still get it, still kicking the young guys' butt, you know? We're teaching them a lesson!", Castroneves told NBC Sports in Victory Lane.
Sunday's race marked the fastest Indianapolis 500 in history, as the race was only slowed twice for a record-low two cautions. Both crashes in the race involved pit road: Stefan Wilson crashed on pit road during the first round of green flag pitstops, and Graham Rahal would crash in turn two coming out of the pits after an improperly-secured wheel fell off. Rahal's tire ended up bouncing off Conor Daly's car, causing damage to the Indiana native's front wing and effectively ending his chances of victory after leading for a chunk of the day.
While Castroneves reveled in his Indy 500 triumph, it was a difficult day for another IndyCar great in Scott Dixon. After starting from the pole, Dixon ran out of fuel during the ill-timed first caution of the race, losing a lap after his car would not re-fire. Scott McLaughlin, driving the same Team Penske No. 3 that Castroneves drove for many years, was the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year.