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'I still have that fire': Helio Castroneves leads list of active Indy 500 winners

Everyone who starts the 2023 Indianapolis 500 wants to drink (and pour) the milk, wear the wreath and kiss the bricks. Nine drivers competing this year know that feeling, having won the race a total of 13 times.

Scott Dixon, the 2008 champion, has the best starting spot among this group, earning the outside of Row 2. One spot down the grid, in seventh, is 2016 champ Alexander Rossi, driving for Arrow McLaren.

A couple of Dixon's Ganassi Racing teammates have favorable starting spots. Two-time winner Takuma Sato starts eighth and defending champion Marcus Ericsson starts 10th.

Rows 1-11: A complete guide to the 33-car starting lineup

Between them, on the outside of Row 3, is 2013 winner Tony Kanaan, who is driving for Arrow McLaren in his final Indy 500 start.

Will Power, the Team Penske driver who won in 2018, is on the outside of Row 4.

In the back half of the field, 2014 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay starts 18th for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Helio Castroneves seeks a record-setting fifth win from 20th for Meyer Shank Racing. Simon Pagenaud, the 2019 champ also driving for Meyer Shank, starts 22nd.

Here's more on the drivers who want that winning feeling again.

Complete list: Who has won the Indy 500?

Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002, 2009, 2021)

Meyer Shank Racing driver Helio Castroneves (06) celebrates winning the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 30, 2021, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Castroneves becomes the fourth driver to win four Indianapolis 500s.
Meyer Shank Racing driver Helio Castroneves (06) celebrates winning the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 30, 2021, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Castroneves becomes the fourth driver to win four Indianapolis 500s.

Castroneves joined A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears in the exclusive four-time champions club in 2021 after trying for more than a decade. He also has three runner-up finishes (2003, '14, '17). He's 48 and eager to stand alone among Indy 500 winners.

What he said in 2021: “I still have that fire. I love what I do. This is my passion, and these guys I know are passionate about it too.

Takuma Sato (2017, 2020)

If Sato starts well, he finishes well. He has started from the front two rows twice: He won from 4th in 2017 ‒ beating Castroneves to the finish line by 0.2 seconds after completing a daring pass in the race's late stages ‒ and from 3rd in '20.

What he said in 2017: "This is, like, the best win in my life in this moment. I still just cannot believe it.”

Scott Dixon (2008)

It couldn't go this smoothly, right? Dixon won from the pole position, leading 115 laps. He has started from the pole position four times since, including 2021 and '22 – and has led a race-record 665 laps – but he's still waiting to join the multiple-winners club. Dixon and Tony Kanaan have led 15 Indy 500s, tied for the most.

What he said: "I think I was worried going into the race just because we had such a smooth month. It was one of those things where you're sort of waiting for something to go wrong."

Tony Kanaan (2013)

There were a race-record 68 lead changes, and Kanaan made the last one on Lap 198 shortly before Dario Franchitti crashed, prompting a finish under caution. Kanaan had five top-5 finishes before his victory and has had three since, including 3rd place in 2022. The 2023 Indy 500 is scheduled to be the last for the 48-year-old.

What he said: "I made it. Finally they're going to put my ugly face on this (Borg-Warner) trophy."

Ryan Hunter-Reay (2014)

Hunter-Reay, who finished 3rd the previous year, swept around Helio Castroneves in Turn 3 with two laps left, then went on to win by 0.06 seconds, the second-closest finish in 500 history behind Al Unser Jr.'s 1992 win (0.043 seconds).

What he said: "It's everything that I've worked for. I was given the chance with a car that could win, and that's all I could ask for."

Alexander Rossi (2016)

Rossi was an IndyCar rookie who had spent years pursuing Formula One rides, having competed in five F1 races the previous year. The then-24-year-old and his Andretti Autosport team ran a smart fuel strategy that resulted in victory before a sold-out crowd in the 100th running of the race.

What he said: “The emotional roller coaster of this race is ridiculous. There were moments when I was stoked, moments where (I was) heartbroken, moments where I was stoked again.

“I need to see a psychiatrist after this.”

Will Power (2018)

Power started 3rd in 2018, the 10th straight Indy 500 he had started on the front three rows. He had not improved on his starting position in his previous nine tries, but he had started and finished 2nd in 2015. The win lifted a weight from his shoulders.

What he said: "I was screaming with one to go, 'Man, I got this!' Unbelievable. I was wondering if I was ever going to win it, and thoughts went through my mind during the month like that. In my career, I’ve had so many wins, so many poles. But everyone always talks about the ‘500.’ And I finally won it."

Simon Pagenaud (2019)

Coming out of a red flag, Pagenaud and Alexander Rossi swapped the lead five times in the closing 14 laps. Pagenaud got by Rossi on Lap 198 and held off repeated attacks the rest of the way.

What he said: "This is a dream come true, a lifetime of trying to achieve this. ... This is the best day of my life!"

Marcus Ericsson (2022)

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Marcus Ericsson (8) celebrates after winning the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 29, 2022, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After leading just 13 laps, Ericsson outlasted a barrage of one-car crashes to put himself in proper position to win an epic sprint to the finish, holding off Pato O'Ward and teammate Tony Kanaan.

With a late restart resulting in a green-white-checkered finish, Ericsson held off Pato O'Ward with a move called the "Dragon," in which the leading car drives serpentine instead of in a straight line that could create an aerodynamic tow for the trailing car. A crash on Lap 200 resulted in the race finishing under caution.

What he said: "They say winning this race is life-changing, and I'm looking forward to that."

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Indy 500 winners driving in 2023: Helio Castroneves seeks record fifth