No. 979
January 16, 2018

About The UjianNasional

Author, commentator, influencer. The Consigliere. Minister of the High-Octane Truth. Editor-in-Chief of .

Peter DeLorenzo has been in and around the sport of racing since the age of ten. After a 22-year career in automotive marketing and advertising, where he worked on national campaigns as well as creating many motorsports campaigns for various clients, DeLorenzo established on June 1, 1999. Over the years DeLorenzo's commentaries on racing and the business of motorsports have resonated throughout the industry. Because of the burgeoning influence of those commentaries, DeLorenzo has directly consulted automotive clients on the fundamental direction and content of their motorsports programs. DeLorenzo is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the sport today.

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May 27, 2009

Excellence, personified.

By Peter M. De Lorenzo

(Posted 5/25, 12:30PM) Detroit.
In the end it came down to the precision of Roger Penske's juggernaut Team Penske, and the exceptional talent and sheer force of will that defines Helio Castroneves, and the Brazilian came through for his third triumph in the Indianapolis 500 - becoming the first foreign-born driver to record the achievement - and doing it in his ninth start in the biggest single motor race in the world. No other driver has become a three-time winner in fewer races. It was also an incredible 15th win for Roger Penske (including five of the last nine Indianapolis 500s), by far the most of any entrant in the history of the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

Castroneves (No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone) passed 2008 race winner Scott Dixon (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing D/H/F) on Lap 142 and led the final 59 laps around the historic 2.5-mile oval, beating 2005 winner Dan Wheldon (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing D/H/F) to the finish line by 1.9819 seconds (it was the Brit's fourth top-four finish at Indianapolis in seven starts). Danica Patrick (No. 7 Andretti Green Racing Boost Mobile/Motorola D/H/F) was third, Townsend Bell (No. 8 Herbalife-KV Racing Technology D/H/F) finished fourth, and Penske Racing driver Will Power (No. 12 Team Verizon Wireless D/H/F) was fifth. Target Chip Ganassi Racing's stars - 2008 Indy 500 Champion Scott Dixon and 2007 race winner Dario Franchitti (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing D/H/F) - combined to lead 123 laps (with Dixon leading the most, 73), but faded due to miscues in the pits, finishing sixth and seventh, respectively. Castroneves, Dixon, Franchitti and Castroneves' teammate Ryan Briscoe (No. 3 Team Penske D/H/F) were the only four drivers to lead the Memorial Day classic.

The win capped a sensational month for Castroneves coming on the heels of his acquittal on federal tax evasion charges, after a grueling six-month trial which threatened to end his driving career.

The jubilant Brazilain, who was temporarily (and stupidly) restrained from performing his fence-climbing victory ritual for the fans by IRL officials, was overcome with emotion and tears, the weight of his trial finally lifted from his shoulders. "This is incredible," Castroneves said. "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 have. I have to think Roger, Tim (Cindric), my guys, Phillip Morris, all the associates (sponsors), Verizon, everybody because they gave my life back. I'm here today because of those guys. 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."

Castroneves is the first driver since Buddy Rice in 2004 to sweep the Peak Performance Pole Award, Indianapolis 500 Pit Stop Challenge and the race itself, and he becomes the ninth driver to win the Indianapolis 500 at least three times joining Louis Meyer (1928, 33, 36), Wilbur Shaw (1937, 39-40), Mauri Rose (1941, 47-48), Johnny Rutherford (1974, 76, 80) and Bobby Unser (1968, 75, 81), and the first to do so since Rick Mears recorded the third of four race wins in 1988. There are only three four-time winners of the Indianapolis 500, including A.J. Foyt (1961, 64, 67, 77), Al Unser (1970-71, 78, 87) and Rick Mears (1979, 84, 88, 91).

Rick Mears, commenting after the race in light of Castroneves' achievement, said that the goal 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 long time 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."

The ABC broadcasting crew opined that Castroneves could join the list of four-time winners, or even become the only man to record five victories, but that was and is wildly premature. Helio had this to say about it afterwards: "Well, for me, I tell you, you can't be thinking about five without making three. We just made three and now thinking about fourth. But I will think about it, dream about it, but we've got to work for it. Certainly 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."

Yes, it is very special. A superb team - led by the most dominant single figure in motorsport over the last 40 years - and a supremely gifted driver who together scaled the highest mountain in all of racing, again. Effort = Results, as Roger always says, and last Sunday at Indianapolis he and his team - with a brilliant run by Helio Castroneves - proved it yet again.

Congratulations and a hearty well done to Helio, Roger and the entire group of professionals who define Team Penske.

(Dana Garrett/IMS)
Helio Castroneves is overcome with emotion after winning the Indianapolis 500 as his car is wheeled to Victory Lane. Rick Rinaman (in black fire suit on left) is the crew chief on the Castroneves machine. He has been associated with 12 of Team Penske's wins at Indy.

(Dana Garrett/IMS)
Elation for Helio!

(Dana Garrett/IMS)
A third triumph for Helio in the biggest single motor race in the world - the Indianapolis 500 - as he becomes the first foreign-born driver to record the achievement, in just his ninth start no less. No other driver has become a three-time Indy winner in fewer races.

(Shawn Payne/IMS)
Helio Castroneves, Tim Cindric and Roger Penske celebrate their win Sunday night at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.


See another live episode of "Autoline After Hours" hosted by Autoline Detroit's John McElroy, with Peter De Lorenzo and auto industry PR veteran Jason Vines this Thursday evening, May 28, at 7:00PM EDT at .

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Publisher's Note: As part of our continuing series celebrating the "Glory Days" of racing, we're proud to present another noteworthy image from the Ford Racing Archives. - PMD

(Courtesy of the Ford Racing Archives)
Indianapolis, IN, 1971. Al Unser before winning the Indianapolis 500 in his Turbo Ford-powered Parnelli Colt, his second victory in a row. Unser is one of only three men to be victorious in the Indianapolis 500 four times, winning it in 1970, 1971 1978 and 1987. The other four-time winners are A.J. Foyt (1961, 64, 67, 77) and Rick Mears (1979, 84, 88, 91). Unser was cool and calculating behind the wheel, letting the races come to him while being particularly adept at getting the most out of any car he sat in.