INDIANAPOLIS — Spontaneity has made Helio Castroneves one of the NTT IndyCar Series’ most appealing stars, and it was a key to the championship celebration of his record-tying fourth Indy 500 victory Sunday.
“Look, I don’t know what I was doing to be honest,” Castroneves said of his mad dash down the frontstretch after his signature climb (watch in the video above or by clicking here). ” I was drawn by the positive energy of everyone. For a long time, these people want to see a four-time winner. I say that because they tell me. Every time we sign the autographs, they are like, ‘I’ve never seen a four-time winner. I want to see it.
“That’s what probably made me thank all of them because they made this place special. I can’t deny that without that I wouldn’t be able to be who I am. I’m thankful for them to be here. This is great. I don’t even know my action. I was just so happy.”
The Brazilian, who also won the Indy 500 in 2001, ’02 and ’09, joined Rick Mears, Al Unser and A.J. Foyt as the only four-time winners of the Indy 500, which held its 105th edition Sunday before a crowd announced as 135,000 (the largest sporting event of the pandemic era after the 2020 race was held without fans).
Castroneves’ victory celebration was among the most memorable in Indy 500 or motorsports history with echoes of Dale Earnhardt’s 1998 Daytona 500 win.
Like the seven-time NASCAR Cup champion, Castroneves also was congratulated by the entire garage, including former teammates (Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Juan Pablo Montoya), fellow IndyCar drivers (two-time Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato, Marco Andretti) and legends (such as Mario Andretti and Johnny Rutherford.
While taking a victory lap in the back seat of a Camaro convertible around the 2.5-mile track, Castroneves watched as hundreds climbed the fence in salute.
“It was very emotional,” he said. “That was so incredible. Every turn you’re seeing everyone with my shirt.”
Said team owner Mike Shank: I got to see the history-in-the-making type of thing. I saw a thousand people climbing the fence all around the track. It was just so cool to be a part of.
“I got to see the people’s reaction to Helio, which I think will go down in the history books. The way they treat him, revere him. I think it would be really cool from him to get a fifth (Indy 500) and us to be a part of that.”
Watch Sunday’s Indy 500 celebration in the video above or by clicking here.
WATCH: Relive Helio Castroneves’ Indy 500 championship celebration with fans originally appeared on NBCSports.com