The Indianapolis Star from Indianapolis, Indiana on May 28, 2001 · Page 30
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The Indianapolis Star from Indianapolis, Indiana · Page 30

Indianapolis, Indiana
Issue Date:
Monday, May 28, 2001
Page 30
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WWW.INDYSTAR.COM THE INDIANAPOLIS STAR MONDAY, MAY 28, 2001 C9 SSPIACE DAY REPORT Castroneves grabs a worldly win V .Jf f IJ I, J! I.VHQI it ma ma Dm ic cnn mum mruL j uuu V ! : I, V Photo Kerry Keating Close again: Michael Andretti gives his wife, Leslie, a kiss after finishing third in the Indianapolis 500. He led 16 laps. Andretti sidesteps disaster and victory Michael adds to record number of laps led without win, averts 2 crashes, finishes 3rd. ! By Phillip B. Wilson ! STAFF WRITER Michael Andretti finds little comfort in having led a record 398 laps without winning the Indianapolis 500. "We didn't get that lap No. lOO," Andretti said after Sunday's 500, referring to leading the final Rip, which would translate into a Tictory. That's the only one I care about." ! Andretti, in his first 500 since 1995, barely averted two crashes and recovered from an early flat tire to finish third behind Roger Penske's cars, driven by winner Helio Castroneves and runner-up Gil de Ferran. Although he led 16 laps Sunday, Mario Andretti's 38-year-old son couldn't stay with Castroneves and de Ferran. A pit-road mishap and miscalculated last-stop adjustments prevented serious contention in the final laps of his 12th Indy 500. "I know Michael's not happy with third," said team owner Barry Green, "but he drove one heck of a race." It may have been an eager Castroneves who cost Andretti the win on lap 136. Castroneves accelerated into pit road's far lane to exit ahead of de Ferran. In doing so, he cut off Tony Stewart, who slammed on the brakes to avoid contact. Andretti broke hard, too, but his No. 39 Team Green Dalla-raAurora sustained minor damage to the front left wing when he bumped Stewart's rear. "I Just happened to get the worst of it," Andretti said. Andretti went from third place to fifth as the damaged wing worsened under wind resistance to a 4-inch gash. He pitted under yellow on lap 149. The nose and jrtng were replaced. He dropped to eighth under a caution 13 positions behind the leader counting cars not on the lead lap. ; He made up most of the spots to finish 5.7 seconds behind Castroneves, a 500 rookie and Championship Auto Racing Teams rival. ; Andretti's father, who won the 1969 Indy 500 but was frustrated in several close calls afterward, applauded the effort. "His turn will come," Mario said. "With everything that was thrown at him, he really dodged some bullets. Any one of those problems could have cost him the race. He did the best he could." Andretti said a loose handling problem was the result of his asking for more wing on the car as well as the crew putting on new tires on lap 168, his final stop. "If the car would have been as good as it was in the middle of the race," Andretti said, "we would have had something for them." Andretti, second in 1991, had to settle for his seventh top-10 finish. It's the first time he's been third. He's also finished fourth, fifth, sixth (twice) and eighth. "I thought we fought several wars, maybe four," Green said. "Apart from the front-wing problem, we improved each time. He Just had to work too hard to get that position back." Andretti got his first scare when he averted debris from Sarah Fisher's crash on the eighth lap. When Sam Homish Jr. spun on lap 17, Andretti quickly averted danger by driving underneath the Panther Racing driver. Two-time winner Al Unser Jr. had no place to go. His day was done after hitting the fourth-turn wall. "Man, that was close," Andretti said. Sensors alerted Andretti his left rear tire was losing pressure, so he had to pit on lap 20. But he got that back and was racing Greg Ray for the lead near the midway point as dark clouds drifted into view. A race is official at 101 laps, and Andretti was beginning to think this might be his day when he took the lead on lap 103 after Ray brushed the third-turn wall. "If there wasn't a threat of rain coming, I would have just coasted behind him," Andretti said. "But I t saw those clouds coming in, so I pushed him as hard as I could and he made a mistake." In keeping with his family's hard-luck tradition, rain didn't help. In the end, there were Just too many obstacles. "To win here," Mario said, "you have to have it pretty flawless." Contact Phillip B. Wilson at 1-317-444-6642 or via e-mail at Though he took CART Long Beach race, being 500 champ should bring more recognition. By Curt Cavin STAFF WRITER Hearing the winning driver's name chanted Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was a pleasing sound to at least one Team Penske official. Perhaps the world will learn to pronounce Helio Castroneves' name, said Tim Cindric, team president. The 'H' is silent." . ER-e-ol EU-e ol Since Castroneves arrived in the U.S. in 1996 to begin the American portion of his racing career, he has been something of an unknown. He lost the '97 Indy Lights title to his teammate, Tony Kanaan, and fought for respect the next two years in the Championship Auto Racing Teams series with small-budget teams in 1998 with Tony Bettenhausen and in '99 with Carl Hogan. Even last year, when Roger Penske hired him for his third CART team in as many years, Castroneves was the replacement for Greg Moore, who was killed in a season-ending accident, and a sidekick to Gil de Ferran, who would become the series champion. Even Sunday, when Castroneves won the Indianapolis 500 in his first try at the age of 26, he was compared to last year's winner, Juan Montoya, and asked if he might soon follow Montoya to Formula One. "Every driver has to take his own step," Castroneves said. Castroneves might have broken from everyone's shadows last year had his first CART victory not come at Detroit's Belle Isle park, arguably the worst track and least popular venue on the schedule. But then he won at the Mid-Ohio and Laguna Seca road courses and started 2001 by winning from the pole at Long Beach, Calif., easily CARTs marquee event. With each win, Castroneves Jumped from his car and climbed the nearest fence, pumping his fist wildly in the air. Crowds grew to love It. That was the highlight of his victory celebration Sunday, too. And for the first time, his crew members and some of those from the second-place team of Gil de Ferran joined him on the fence. "I knew he was going to do something stupid," de Ferran said, laughing. "Obviously, he was extremely excited, as well he should be." De Ferran Is proud to call Castroneves a friend. Their odd-couple relationship has breathed fresh life into Penske's pressed-collared team. De Ferran plays the straight guy with the dry sense of humor. Castroneves is the comic, always smiling and usually laughing. He has been known to pull his team-.mate's big ears and excels at engaging a crowd. "He likes my kids," de Ferran said, "and my kids like him." Castroneves was 14 when he watched Emerson Fittlpaldi and Al Unser Jr. touch wheels entering the third turn of the next-to-last lap of the 1989 500. They were fighting for the win, and everyone held their breath as Unser shot to the outside wall. Fittlpaldi, a fellow Brazilian, held his wheel, went on to win and stirred the kid from Sao Paulo. Castroneves was en route to winning the country's karting title, but he didn't know much about Indy at the time. Yet, it seemed different. When Castroneves arrived at the Speedway in April to participate in 4 . VV.' ...... "wr r -V V j: : " x' 1 1. J Photo Andrew Clark Once around the oval: With the traditional winner's drink of milk in hand, Helio Castroneves takes a victory lap on a Speedway vehicle. He won the 85th Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. the rookie orientation program, an unsettling ride through a windy first turn scared him. He even hit the wall In practice this month. But never did Castroneves shy from the legendary facility, as so many newcomers have through the years. Instead, he sought the advice of Team Penske consultant Rick Mears and IRL driving coach Al Unser and conquered it. Still, he admitted the magnitude of the 500 had him not wanting to leave his garage before the race. Hours later, in a crowded post-race interview room, Castroneves couldn't predict where his performance on the world's greatest stage would carry him. To F-l? Maybe. Michael Andretti, the 1991 CART champion who finished third in Sunday's race, said the youngster had a chance to go far, especially with a team like Penske's, which has all the resources to make winning a regular occurrence. "Putting good talent with a team like that is a good combination," Andretti said. Call Curt Cavin at 1-317-444-6409 or e-mail Rookie winners Helio Castroneves' victorv mads f jir" . m j fi. ft ' v . or e "rst back-to-back rookie ""kW A.fc-V' winners since 1926-27 and the o Vf' eighth rookie winner in history. A.' ,V) ' v4t4'2001 2000 hi Helio Juan I- - i 'Castroneves Montoya m f 1 J 1914 Rene Thomas 1966 Graham Hill 1927 George Souders 1926 Frank Lockhart 1913 Jules Goux 1911 Ray Harroun Staff Graphic Greg Nichols Some 1-2 punch: Gil de Ferran (left) and Helio Castroneves rule the racing world by beating everyone to the finish line at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. They gave team owner Roger Penske his first career 1-2 Indy 500 finish. " '"" ' . ' '.IT-f - - ' - PENSKE Continued from Page 1 Staff Photo Mike Fender ship Auto Racing Teams its most satisfying day since the Indy Racing League was created in 1996 as an alternative. CART teams took the first six finishing positions, building on last year's victory by Juan Montoya in a car owned by Chip Ganassi's CART team. Michael Andretti finished third, with Jimmy Vasser fourth and rookie Bruno Junqueira fifth. Driving a Ganassi car, NASCAR Winston Cup driver Tony Stewart was sixth. Eliseo Salazar, in seventh, was the highest-finishing IRL regular. He was a lap off the pace. Castroneves beat de Ferran off pit road on lap 168, then raced him side-by-side into the first turn on the restart. Castroneves held the inside and won the duel, though not by much. Penske held his breath. It was much like the anxiety he felt when his cars left their pit boxes in tandem on lap 136. Cas troneves swung wide to avoid de Ferran but ended up in the path of Stewart and Andretti, who prevented an accident by jamming the brakes, although he bumped Stewart. IRL officials penalized the Penske drivers for not exiting in the proper lane, awarding Stewart the lead. Quipped Penske: "They put Stewart In front of us just to make a race of it." Stewart relinquished the lead when he pitted for fuel after 148 laps. Castroneves took the lead and never let it go. Despite Team Penske's domination in the second half of the race, there was much to talk about. Eight drivers led the competitive race, seven for at least 13 laps. Pole sitter Scott Sharp crashed while leading through the first corner. Greg Ray was in the lead when he bumped the wall fighting off Andretti on lap 103. Cool temperatures produced cold tires, which don't adhere to the track as well. That seemed to play a role In not only Sharp's crash but Sarah Fisher's on the eighth lap. J Ail hail Helio $1,270,475 Castroneves' winnings 153.601 mph Castroneves' average speed 1.7373 seconds Castroneves' winning margin 52 laps Castroneves led on only one occasion and maintained it to the finish Her spin collected veteran Scott Goodyear, who suffered a fracture in his lower back. Sam Hornish Jr. spun into the path of Al Unser Jr., who drove into the fourth-turn wall on his 17th lap. Hornish was able to continue; Unser was not. Rookie Jon Herb crashed trying to avoid a slower car (Ray). Second-place Robbie Buhl spun while trying to catch the leader (Castroneves). Greenfield, Ind., native Mark Dismore was fast (leading 29 laps), slow (broken gearbox) and then fast again (passing de Ferran late). An- l dreW led 16 laps despite having to pit for a cut tire (from the Fisher-Goodyear crash) and a damaged wing (from the tangle with Stewart on pit road). Rain slowed the race twice. The second time, when officials stopped the cars, Stewart not only climbed out of his car, he ran to Gasoline Alley for treatment of a cramped foot. Rookie Felipe Giaffone, who started last, rallied to finish 10th. Although in command, Castroneves said the final laps seemed to last forever. That's how his celebration looked, too. After climbing the fence, he took a long, slow lap around the 2.5-mile track, waving his arms wildly. Then he reached victory lane and started an hour-long celebration with the fans who chanted his name. "My ultimate dream was to win this race." he said. "Nobody said (climbing the fence) would be against the rules." Contact Curt Cavin at 1-317-444-6409 or via e-mail at

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