Castroneves bids to join four win club again

Thu May 21, 2015 5:19pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - Helio Castroneves will again put his name up for membership into the Brickyard's most exclusive club on Sunday when the Brazilian goes for a fourth Indianapolis 500 win with last year's rejection long forgotten.

A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears are the only men to visit Victory Lane at the sprawling speedway four times. With a win at the 99th edition of the 'Greatest Spectacle in Racing', the diminutive Brazilian could stand tall alongside the three giants of American motorsport.

It is an ageing club that has not welcomed a new member since Mears claimed his fourth 500 victory in 1991, though it looked ready to add some new blood last year until American Ryan Hunter-Reay powered past Castroneves at the start of the final lap to win a dramatic drag race by less than a car length apart.

In the five 500s since he completed his Brickyard hat-trick in 2009, Castroneves has known only frustration while posting four top-10 finishes, including last year's second place.

"As soon as I hit the finish line, (it was forgotten)," Castroneves said on Thursday during the Indy 500 Media Day. "We saw what happens and you move on.

"It is the motivation to make it better this year. The last five laps I led, unfortunately that day he had a better speed and it was his day."

The King of the Speedway, Castroneves notched consecutive victories in 2001 and 2002 then returned to the winner's circle in 2009 and signaled he will again be among the contenders by qualifying fifth fastest in the middle of Row Two.

But it has been a far from smooth run-up to Sunday's race for Castroneves who walked away unscathed from a spectacular crash that ended with his car slamming into the wall and flipping.   Continued...

Helio Castroneves during the 2014 Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. May 25, 2014;  Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports