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CASTRONEVES EARNS RECORD $3 MILLION FOR THIRD ‘500’ VICTORY
Tagliani earns $25,000 for Chase Rookie of the Year honors
Photo By Mark Rotor
INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, May 25, 2009 – Helio Castroneves earned a record $3,048,005 from an overall purse of $14,315,315 for his emotional victory May 24 in the 2009 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.
Castroneves and his family shed tears of joy in Victory Lane after he took his third career victory in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” in the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, only two days he was cleared of the final charge in a series of federal tax evasion charges that threatened his freedom. Castroneves had a dream-like month of May at Indianapolis, winning the PEAK Performance Pole Award, the Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge and the race.
The previous record winner’s purse was $2,988,065 awarded to Scott Dixon in 2008. This year’s event purse – the second-largest in “500” history behind the $14,406,580 sum from 2008 – is comprised of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League awards, sponsor awards and other designated awards.
Castroneves joined an elite club with his victory, becoming only the ninth driver in “500” history to win the race three times. Castroneves won his first two starts, in 2001 and 2002.
In his 2009 triumph, Castroneves led 66 of 200 laps, including the final 59. He crossed the finish line 1.9819 seconds ahead of Dan Wheldon. Castroneves also provided team owner Roger Penske with his record 15th Indianapolis 500 victory.
Wheldon, the 2005 Indianapolis 500 winner and driver of the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, earned $1,258,805. Danica Patrick finished an Indianapolis 500-career best third in the No. 7 Boost Mobile/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone and earned $763,305.
Townsend Bell and Will Power also posted Indy career-best finishes of fourth and fifth, respectively. Bell earned $445,305 while Power collected a check for $345,305.
Alex Tagliani, driver of the No. 36 All Sport Conquest Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, was awarded the prestigious Indianapolis 500 Chase Rookie of the Year Award and a $25,000 bonus plus the Chase Rookie of the Year Trophy. Tagliani finished 11th – the highest-finishing rookie – after starting at the back of the field in 33rd.
At the Victory Celebration, Sarah Fisher received the Scott Brayton Driver’s Trophy, presented since 1997 to the driver who best exemplifies the character and racing spirit of the late Scott Brayton.
HELIO CASTRONEVES on being back and at Kansas
“It’s great to be back. I was extremely excited to start my season at Long Beach, and I’m ready to race here at Kansas. There have been so many close calls to win a race here, and Team Penske has always been right there. You can see that the competition this year is really high. We are going to continue working hard. Hopefully, we’re going to have a good weekend. I want to thank the fans again for sending prayers, good wishes and positive thinking throughout my whole six-month ordeal. I’m extremely happy to be here.” (About new generation of racers): “After racing at Long Beach, I can see that this year is one of those years that everyone has some experience.
Everyone knows what they’re doing. They’ve shown great potential in St. Petersburg and Long Beach. It shows that other teams are coming up, and that means that the competition is getting tougher. And with younger drivers like Graham (Rahal) and others, there’s no question that it makes our lives a little bit tougher. On the ovals, I think it takes a lot of experience as well. I remember racing against Al Unser Jr. and even (Graham’s) dad (Bobby Rahal). On ovals, you’ve got to have experience and you have to take it easy and let the race come to you. So I think guys with experience are going to continue doing well. But no question that the kids are coming on strong.”
CASTRONEVES CLIMBS FENCE AFTER WINNING AGAIN AT TEXAS
FORT WORTH, Texas (Saturday, June 6, 2009) - Helio Castroneves won for the third time at Texas Motor Speedway, grabbing the lead off a Lap 175 pit stop and going on to a 0.3904 of a second victory over Team Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe.
"It was an incredible day for Team Penske," the 2009 Indianapolis 500 winner said. "All the credit also goes to Ryan Briscoe and his team. They push us, and we push them, and together, we're pushing towards the top. Having first and second at Texas is not easy, so that's a compliment for everyone."
Scott Dixon, the 2008 race winner, was third and Marco Andretti finished a season-high fourth. Dario Franchitti, the pole sitter, was fifth and Danica Patrick finished sixth.
"We did the best we could, I just didn't have enough for Helio in the final stages," said Briscoe, who led a field-high 160 laps and took over the IndyCar Series championship race with 199 points (three ahead of Dixon). "The last 20 laps were some of the most frustrating I've ever driven. To lead the whole race and have the quickest car out there, I just couldn't pass Helio. The high line was slower.
"At least we came in second. We got points for leading the most laps. The important thing is we're racing for the wins. We'll get our wins. It's just frustrating for tonight."
The win marked Team Penske's fifth at Texas Motor Speedway, tying Panther Racing for most wins at the 1.5-mile oval.
CASTRONEVES ALREADY EYEING THE FUTURE
Photo By Mark Rotor
INDIANAPOLIS (Monday, May 25, 2009) - Without hesitation, Helio Castroneves points to the locations of his two likenesses on the Borg-Warner Trophy. A third spot is reserved. More are projected.
Castroneves on May 24 became the ninth driver with at least three Indianapolis 500 victories, taking control of the race in the final 10 laps to lead Panther Racing's Dan Wheldon and Andretti Green Racing's Danica Patrick across the Yard of Bricks in front of a wildly enthusiastic crowd at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The goal, as four-time 500-Mile Race winner Rick Mears says, soon after the euphoria fades is always the next one.
"You realize that not a lot of people ever get an opportunity to run here let alone win it," said Mears, a consultant to Team Penske. "The odds of winning it more than once are very slim. Then you learn more about it, more about what it takes and how difficult it really is to do. It makes each one special but you always want another."
Mears joins Al Unser and A.J. Foyt as the four-time winners. Louis Meyer, Wilbur Shaw, Mauri Rose, Johnny Rutherford and Bobby Unser each have three victories.
"I feel honored to be in this category of drivers," Castroneves said. "But without a team, without good people surrounding you, you cannot make that. Like I said many times, Team Penske has (15 times) so they are prepared for this race."
At age 34, Castroneves will have numerous opportunities. Unser was five days shy of his 48th birthday when he won his fourth Indy 500 in 1987. A.J. Foyt was 42 (1977) and Mears was 39 (1991).
"You can't be thinking about five without making three," Castroneves said. "We just made three and now thinking about the fourth. But I will think about it, dream about it, but we've got to work for it. Certainly we have the team to do that, but we have a long way. Right now for me, I'm just going to enjoy this moment because it's very special."
The win also creates tremendous momentum for Castroneves for the remainder of the 2009 season. Since returning to the series at Long Beach, Castroneves has recorded three top-10 finishes, climbing from 19th to 10th to second in points, reminiscent of another Team Penske driver, Gil de Ferran, who battled for a championship in 2003 despite missing a race.
Like Castroneves, de Ferran won the Indianapolis 500 that year. De Ferran went on to finish second overall, just 18 points behind Scott Dixon.
Castroneves is only five points out of first and has 13 races remaining to make a run for his first championship.
“We couldn’t be happier for Penske Racing, Helio Castroneves and his family and look forward to having him back on the race grid at Long Beach. Helio has played an integral part in the growth of the IndyCar Series on and off the race track the past few years and has an incredible legion of fans. He is a true star in every sense of the word and his infectious personality, popularity and success on the race track is welcomed back.”
Helio Castroneves web site:
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