May 24, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS -- HelioCastroneves' comeback from adversity is complete as the driver from Brazil who five weeks ago could have gone to prison for tax evasion won his third Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.

Castroneves, who gain freedom when he was acquitted on April 17, drove away from the field at the very end and becomes the sixth driver to have won this race three times in their career.

"Way to go; great job -- right into victory lane," said four-time winner Rick Mears over the radio, who served as Castroneves' spotter on Sunday.

"This is unbelievable -- thank you, God," Castroneves radioed back.

Castroneves defeated 2005 Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon of England. Danica Patrick had her best-ever Indianapolis 500 finish of third.

Castroneves stopped his car on the front straight, climbed out of the car and climbed the fence in the move that has made him famous.

Townsend Bell was fourth, followed by Will Power. Defending Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon finished sixth.

The emotional Castroneves had tears flowing down his face after winning the race.

Although he won the Indy 500 in 2001 and 2002, this Indy 500 win is probably the most special of all for the man who peered into the abyss of legal difficulties and was able to reach the pinnacle of his racing career.

With just 10 laps left in the 93rd Indianapolis 500, Helio Castroneves is driving away from the field because Danica Patrick and Dan Wheldon are battling it out for second place. The battle began when the green flag flew on lap 183 with Patrick pulling alongside Wheldon down the long frontstraight on the green flag.

Castroneves, who five weeks ago had his fate in the hands of a 12-member jury in a tax evasion trial, is closing in on his third Indianapolis 500 victory.

He has a 1.5-second lead over Wheldon. Patrick is third followed by TownsendBell and Will Power.

The most spectacular crash of Sunday's 93rd Indianapolis 500 sent VitorMeira's car riding the Turn 1 wall like it was on a rail after it hooked wheels with RaphaelMatos' car on 175th lap. Both drivers were able to climb from their respective cars but the collision damaged the SAFER Barrier and track workers are repairing the damage.

Meira was alert but complained of pain after he was removed from the car. The grinding crash came after Meira had survived a pit fire that briefly engulfed his car on lap 134.

Despite the damage to wall, the yellow flag was displayed with Castroneves in the lead ahead of Team Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe, Dan Wheldon, Danica Patrick and Will Power.

Briscoe broke out of the line on lap 180 when he drove onto pit lane to top off his fuel tank with 20 laps remaining.

As the 93rd Indianapolis 500 has less than 100 miles to go, a major shuffle on pit road has put Ryan Briscoe and Dario Franchitti back into contention.

The pit stop sequence on lap 163 saw Will Power drop four positions to sixth place and saw Briscoe overcome a tire issue earlier in the race that dropped him one lap down to vault to second place behind race leader and teammate, Helio Castroneves.

The pit stop sequence came after England's Justin Wilson crashed on lap 161 to bring out the yellow flag.

Castroneves, who started on the pole, is in front of Briscoe, 2005 Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon and Danica Patrick. Townsend Bell is fifth followed by Power and Scott Dixon -- the leader for most of the race before this last round of pit stops.

Ed Carpenter is ninth followed by 2007 Indy winner Franchitti of Scotland. Mike Conway rounds out the top 10 as the field is on the 166th lap of the 200-lap race.

After two separate pit fires on lap 134, the action on the track has heated up in Sunday's 93rd Indianapolis 500 with pole-winner Helio Castroneves back in the lead.

Castroneves made a perfectly-timed restart on lap 141 when he charged down the front straight and passed race-leader and defending 500 champion Scott Dixon.

The race is currently past the 145-lap mark with Castroneves ahead of Dixon, Will Power, Dan Wheldon, Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy.

Two separate pit fires have added even more flame to a hotly contested Indianapolis 500. DarioFranchitti's bid for a second Indy 500 victory has taken a major hit after he left pit lane with the fuel hose still attached during a pit stop on lap 134.

Further down pit road, VitorMeira's car ignited in an Ethanol fire but safety crew immediately dumped water and other extinguishing material onto the fire to put it out. Meira, soaked with water, pulled out of pit lane after the fire and did not lose a lap because of the incident with a loud roar coming from the crowd.

The yellow flag waved after rookie Nelson Philippe of France hit the wall. The damage to the suspension put Philippe out of the race on lap 131.

It was during that sequence that it got hot on pit road for two drivers, both able to continue in the race however.

Franchitti dropped from second to eighth, however, while Target/Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon attempts to win the Indy 500 for the second year in a row.

Pole winner Helio Castroneves is second followed by Will Power and Paul Tracy. Dan Wheldon, the 2005 Indy winner, is fifth.

Danica Patrick is currently ninth, one car behind Franchitti. Ryan Briscoe, who had to make an unscheduled pit stop earlier in the race and fell a lap down, has battled his way back to 10th.

With 200 miles to go in Sunday's 93rd Indianapolis 500, it's a one-team race.

Target/Chip Ganassi Racing drivers are dominating the race at the 300-mile mark as Scott Dixon attempts to win for the second year in a row. Dixon is leading 2007 Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti while Australia's Will Power -- who lost his Team Penske ride when Helio Castroneves was acquitted in a federal trial for tax evasion -- is currently third in front of the driver that took his ride.

Castroneves is fourth followed by rookie Raphael Matos. Dan Wheldon, the 2005 Indy winner, is sixth, Paul Tracy ninth and Danica Patrick 10th.

After an earlier crash involving Tony Kanaan, the two Ganassi drivers raced away from the field with Dixon in front of Franchitti when the green flag dropped on lap 110.

Tony Kanaan just slammed hard into the third turn wall on the 99th lap of Sunday's 93rd Indianapolis 500. Kanaan, the best driver in the field who has yet to win the world's biggest race, hit the backstretch wall, then slid across the north short chute and crashed hard into the outside wall in Turn 3.

"Oh my God, I hope he's OK," Andretti Green Racing teammate Danica Patrick radioed to her crew.

It was the second year in a row Kanaan has crashed in the third turn wall. Last year, he was punted into the wall by AGR teammate Marco Andretti.

"Something broke in the middle of the straightaway, then I went for a wild ride," Kanaan said. "I rest my head on the head rest and closed my eyes. I knew it was going to be a big one. It looks like I just got beat up big-time.

"Me and this place, again, one more time. I had a big scare."

Both Kanaan and Andretti are now out of the race leaving Patrick and Japan's Hideki Mutoh as the two remaining AGR drivers in the field.

The race has hit the halfway point with the yellow flag waving. Scott Dixon was the leader when he led the field down pit road for another round of pit stops. Dixon retained the lead over Dario Franchitti and two-time Indy winner Helio Castroneves.

Earlier, Dixon was able to get a run down the front straight on a restart to take the lead going into the first turn on a restart for the second time in the race. Dixon is the defending winner of the world's biggest race.

Dixon got a charge on his Target/Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Franchitti, the 2007 Indy winner and IndyCar Series champion.

While the two Ganassi cars in front should not be a surprise, it was the Team Penske tandem of pole winner Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe that were expected to dominate the field. But Castroneves has dropped back to fourth place and Briscoe is 22nd , the next to last car on the lead lap.

Rookie Raphael Matos has been a big surprise, running in the top five after starting the race 12th.

At lap 101, the top five are Dixon, Franchitti, Will Power, Matos and Castroneves.

Davey Hamilton smacked the Turn 2 wall just two laps past the 200-mile mark in Sunday's 93rd Indianapolis 500. Scott Dixon, the 2008 Indy 500 winner, was the leader at the time of Hamilton's crash.

Hamilton was uninjured and walked to the safety vehicle. He was competing in his ninth Indy 500, which is a bit of a miracle considering he had severe feet and leg injuries from a crash during an IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in 2001.

The 47-year-old Hamilton started on the inside of the eighth row and was driving for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

"I just barely tagged the wall but by the time you get into the marbles here, it's over," Hamilton said.

The latest caution period allowed the contenders to pit as Dixon led the field down pit road. Ryan Briscoe, who had to make an unscheduled pit stop for a tire issue on a previous restart, stayed on the track to get back on the lead lap.

Dario Franchitti took the lead when he won the race off pit road on lap 85, just inches ahead of Dixon, the defending Indy 500 winner.

The yellow flag is currently displayed for the fourth time in the 200-lap race. Franchitti leads Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Helio Castroneves and rookie Raphael Matos. Will Power is sixth and Danica Patrick seventh.

Scott Dixon took the lead on a restart on lap 63 as the driver from New Zealand hopes to win the Indianapolis 500 for the second time in his career. But the racing on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is becoming fast and furious as RyanBriscoe's car is dropping through the field like a boat anchor.

Briscoe complained that his car is losing grip because of a tire issue. Briscoe had to drive into the pits on lap 65 to correct the problem.

During that traffic jam, Danica Patrick was able to capitalize and move into fifth place. The top five is currently Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan, rookie Raphael Matos and Patrick. Pole-winner Helio Castroneves is sixth after 67 laps.

Rookie GrahamRahal's attempt at becoming the youngest winning in Indianapolis 500 history will have to wait for one more year as the 20-year-old driver crashed coming off the fourth turn on lap 56 of Sunday's race.

Rahal, who started fourth, was trying to stay ahead of Tony Kanaan as the driver from Brazil was trying to pass Rahal for fifth place. Rahal's car drifted high in the turn and hit the wall for the third yellow flag of the race.

At lap 59, Ryan Briscoe of Team Penske is in the lead ahead of 2007 Indy winner Dario Franchitti and 2008 winner Scott Dixon. Two-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves is fourth and Kanaan fifth.

The drivers at the front of the field hit pit road on lap 59. Justin Wilson spun on pit lane during his stop but did not hit anything.

On lap 60, Team Penske's Briscoe is in the lead ahead of Dixon, Franchitti, Kanaan and Castroneves.

Dario Franchitti has stolen the focus away from Helio Castroneves in the first 100 miles of Sunday's 93rd Indianapolis 500 as the Scotsman attempts to win this race for the second time in his career. Franchitti, the winner in 2007, took the lead on the first restart of the race on lap 8. That followed a crash in the second turn of the first green flag lap after Marco Andretti and Mario Moraes crashed.

The initial start of the race was waved off when the 33-car starting field was out of alignment. The field was able to bunch up for the second attempt at a start. Moraes and Andretti attempted to get through the south short chute but it didn't work as Moraes crashed into Andretti's car.

Franchitti stayed in front until the second caution period after Ryan Hunter-Reay hit the fourth turn outside wall and then rebounded into the inside wall on lap 20.

The pits were closed for several laps while Hunter-Reay's car was hauled off and the debris removed. The field pitted once the pits opened but Franchitti was able to get in and out of the pits with the lead.

He was in front when the green flag waved on lap 25 and stayed there through the 100-mile mark on lap 40. Robert Doornbos, a rookie from Belgium, brushed the second turn wall on lap 51.

Ryan Briscoe passed Franchitti for the lead on lap 53. The top 10 on lap 54 includes Briscoe, Franchitti, defending winner Scott Dixon, Castroneves, Graham Rahal, Tony Kanaan, Raphael Matos, Will Power, Danica Patrick and Hideki Mutoh.

With a huge crowd filling the grandstands of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and a sunny sky as a backdrop, the 93rd Indianapolis 500 is under way with plenty of storylines in this race.

Helio Castroneves continues his unbelievable comeback from adversity as the man whose life and career was in the hands of a 12-member jury on April 17 in a trial on federal tax evasion charges started the race on the pole. Castroneves is attempting to become a three-time winner of the world's greatest race but he will face stiff competition from a deep field of drivers.

Team Penske driver Ryan Briscoe starts second and while much of the attention has been on his more popular teammate, Castroneves, the second-year Penske driver has a very fast car and an outstanding chance to finish the day in victory lane.

Dario Franchitti, who returns to the Indianapolis 500 after a one-year attempt at NASCAR, starts on the outside of the first row for Target/Chip Ganassi Racing. Franchitti won the rain-shortened Indy 500 in 2007.

Second-year driver Graham Rahal is another driver who could have a significant impact on the race. The 20-year-old son of 1986 Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal starts on the inside of the second row. If young Rahal wins, he would become the youngest driver in history to win the Indianapolis 500. To his right is defending Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon, who used last year's victory to catapult him to his second IndyCar Series championship in 2008.

Tony Kanaan, the best driver in the field who has yet to win the Indy 500 starts sixth. He is the only driver in the field to lead at least one lap in every Indianapolis 500 he has ever competed in since his first race in 2002. Mario Moraes of Brazil has been very fast all month and could be a darkhorse pick to win the race.

And, of course, fan favorite Danica Patrick starts 10th as she attempts to become the first female ever to win the Indy 500.

Paul Tracy of Canada returns to Indy for the first time since he was involved in the disputed finish of the 2002 Indy 500. Tracy's race-winning pass over Castroneves was overruled by IndyCar Series officials because of a crash further behind them in the field. The yellow flag came out with 1½ laps to go, Tracy was placed behind Castroneves who went on to win Indy for the second time in his career.

Tracy starts 13th in a second car for KV Racing Technologies.

Those are just some of the storylines as close to 300,000 fans are expected to watch today's race, which is the centerpiece event of the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Partiers have clogged the streets surrounding the Speedway for the past three nights making this event Memorial Day Weekend's largest picnic.

You May Like