INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The 2009 Indy 500 was an incredibly emotional one for Helio Castroneves. After being acquitted on tax evasion charges less than a month before the start of activities at the Speedway and missing the first race of the IndyCar season, Castroneves dominated the month of May in Indianapolis.
Castroneves won the pole, as well as the pit stop competition leading up to the 93rd Indy 500.
Much of the first half of the race featured Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti trading the lead. Unfortunately for Franchitti, he lost a lot of track position during a pit stop under caution in which the fueling mechanism got stuck in his car. Franchitti ended up finishing 7th.
On the ensuing restart, Castroneves passed Dixon for the race lead.
In the closing laps, Castroneves maintained his lead as Dan Wheldon and Danica Patrick attempted to catch him. Castroneves and his Team Penske car were too strong however, and the Brazilian won his third 500 in eight years. The win was also a record-breaking 15th for team owner Roger Penske.
After the race, Castroneves was extremely emotional, ignoring instructions to remain in his car, and instead thrilling the fans with his customary fence climbing celebration. As his car was taken to victory lane, Castroneves was overcome with emotion.
Oh boy, what a day. This place is magical,” Castroneves said. “I mean, it was a tough beginning of the season but things are starting to fall into place. This is the best month of May ever.”