Helio Castroneves won the 2021 Indy 500, becoming only the fourth driver to win the race four times. Alex Palou came second, with Simon Pagenaud third.
It was time for the greatest spectacle in American motorsport, the Indianapolis 500, to commence. On pole was Scott Dixon, alongside him was Rinus VeeKay and Colton Herta. The tension mounted as they did their pre-race parade laps to form up for the rolling start.
Will Power had some early problems but managed to regrid and rejoin his spot at the back of the pack. The green flag waved, and the 2021 Indianapolis 500 was underway. Dixon led away, but halfway through lap 1 it was Herta who went up the inside to take the lead and lead lap 1. VeeKay took Dixon and took the lead over the start line to begin lap 3.
Dixon was obviously happy in third as they reeled off the first 10 laps. VeeKay still led at lap 15, with Herta in second followed by Dixon and Ed Carpenter. Will Power was gaining positions, moving up into the top 25.
On lap 31, we had our first pitter, leader VeeKay in for fuel. He was quickly followed in by Carpenter and Ryan Hunter-Reay, among others. Carpenter had all kinds of problems in his stop as Herta came in. Then a caution. Stefan Wilson crashed coming into pits, hitting the pit wall, and becoming the first retirement.
The field was then neutralized, with Dixon ahead. Then, Dixon ran out of fuel and had huge troubles restarting his car. It was not restarting, and the pre-race favorite and polesitter lost a lap and was effectively out of the race. Alex Rossi and Marcus Ericsson had problems too, with Rossi losing laps as well. Dixon got his car fired up finally, but was a lap down and needed to go back in to refuel properly.
After the pitstop sequence was done, it was Herta in the lead from VeeKay and Conor Daly. Dixon and Rossi had it all to do from a lap down, but it has been done before, but they will need to go flat out.
We went green again, and Herta kept his lead from VeeKay, with Helio Castroneves making a bold move up to third. Then VeeKay took Herta, Daly took him too, then Daly took the lead of the race to the roar of the fans. Castroneves relegated Herta to third as the veteran went up into the podium as the race went a quarter through.
Rossi tried a daring move on Dalton Kellett to unlap himself, as he went full maximum attack. VeeKay retook the lead, then pitted for fuel. Daly pitted two laps later, and Castroneves led the Indy 500 on his 21st attempt. Herta took Castroneves on lap 77, then went to the pits, with Helio behind. Herta came out in effective third, behind Daly and VeeKay.
After the second pit cycle happened, it was VeeKay in front, from Daly, Herta, Pato O’Ward, and Alex Palou. The racing was beginning to get more frantic, with O’Ward getting up to third with Hunter-Reay up to fifth. Daly took the lead from VeeKay too as the long line of cars began to race harder.
All of a sudden, it was Daly from VeeKay, O’Ward, and Hunter-Reay. The third pitstop cycle was closing in as the race hit lap 100. On lap 103, VeeKay pitted from the lead, with Daly following him in. O’Ward led from Hunter-Reay. Herta was the next big hitter to pit, showing who was better on fuel consumption. More drivers began to stream into the pits, hoping to stretch out so only two more stops were needed.
Scott Mclaughlin was the leading rookie, then got a penalty for speeding in pit lane. Then Graham Rahal lost a wheel, spun, and crashed coming out of the pits. The accident was scary, narrowly avoiding what happened to Alex Zanardi all those years ago. Daly hit the wheel that came off, with the aeroscreen potentially saving his life too. The race was put under caution again.
Under said caution, most drivers who hadn’t yet pitted did. Palou led when it went green again, but Castroneves immediately passed him, with O’ward taking Palou too. Then O’Ward took the lead as the race began to enter its closing stages. Palou retook the lead on lap 131 but had marginally less fuel than those behind. Castroneves took O’Ward too and was stalking the back of the leader. Daly was the first of the lead group to pit again, with damage after the Rahal incident.
VeeKay pitted on lap 145, and by lap 150, most of the leading pack were in, with only one more stop left to run. Power spun in pit lane and his faint chances of victory were all but over. O’Ward and Palou were going hammer and tong for the lead, as Herta and Simon Pagenaud went side by side.
With just 40 laps left, it was Palou from Castroneves and O’Ward, as the tension mounted while the laps ticked off. Simona de Silvestro was next to fall foul in the pit lane, spinning at pit entry. The leaders went in for their final stops, with Palou coming out ahead of Castroneves, with O’Ward third. Castroneves then took the lead with not many laps left.
Helio meant business this time and tried to keep his lead with only 20 laps left. Palou took the lead back, with O’Ward there all the time. The crowd went mad as the battle continued, Palou vs Castroneves with O’Ward just back behind. Palou took him again with just 14 to go. Pagenaud was beginning to reel in the top 3, with much fresher tires.
The tension and excitement were mounting, as the laps ticked into single digits. Carpenter was making his way into this too, it was a five-way fight to the flag. It was still Palou just ahead, from Castroneves with just eight laps left. Castroneves took the lead with seven laps left, but the win was anyone’s. Palou took the lead back with just five left. He began to make a gap in the tow of a lapped car, which then pitted for a penalty.
They started the penultimate lap, and Castroneves took the lead. There was a huge line of lapped cars as the white flag came out, who would win the Indy 500?
The answer was Castroneves. The Brazilian took his fourth Indy 500 win, becoming only the fourth ever to do so. The 46-year-old was back in force. Palou had to settle for second, with Pagenaud in third.