INDIANAPOLIS – First it was Danica Patrick, then it was Helio Castroneves. Neither driver had ever found the SAFER barriers during the Indianapolis 500. Really, other than a bizarre practice crash a few years ago, Castroneves had never wrecked at Indy in general.
But, after 145 laps, both had found the wall on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Castroneves, spun at the exit of Turn 4 on the Lap 145 restart and backed into the inside wall at pit entry. His No. 3 Chevrolet was badly damaged, leaving him with a 27th place finish. That’s frustrating to him because he had a car to win.
The popular Brazilian was running fourth when he got into the wall, as he and his Team Penske teammates were found well inside of the top 10 all day long.
“Got a good move on Ryan (Hunter-Reay) and had the momentum,” Castroneves said of his crash. “Probably had a little dust on the tires. I was trying to pass Simon (Pagenaud) but it stepped out. I had no indication. I underestimated the tires.
“Please Roger (Penske) let me come back.”
Castroneves, was making what possibly could have been his last Verizon IndyCar Series start. He made 344 career starts prior to this season but the team started a new IMSA program and wanted to downsize their INDYCAR program from four cars to three. That left Castroneves as the odd man out as he was moved to a new IMSA role.
While he’s been thriving there, Penske brought Helio back for both races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May. He finished well in the INDYCAR Grand Prix and was in the hunt to win the ‘500, but he too crashed out. The numbers were on his side to match Al Unser Sr. with a record tying four ‘500 wins, as Unser won his first two Indy 500’s in back-to-back years in 1970 and again in 1971. Castroneves won in 2001 and 2002. It took Unser seven years to win again (1978) and eight years to get No. 4 (1987). It took Castroneves seven years to get No. 3 (2009) and this was eight years since.
Now, his bid for a record tying win will have to wait another year.
“We will certainly take a good look at that for sure,” Penske said of bringing Castroneves back. Tim Cindric though did give Castroneves a voice of confidence, saying that he definitely will be back with them in 2019.