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Indy 500: 5 Reasons Helio Castroneves Is the Driver to Beat at Indianapolis

Helio Castroneves
Helio CastronevesJamie Squire/Getty Images
TCorrespondent IIIMay 25, 2011

Helio Castroneves has a history of success at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  With victories in 2001, 2002, and 2009, Castroneves is now on the doorstep of the vaunted four-time winners' club.  Despite his worst starting position in his career at Indianapolis, Castroneves remains a contender for a win in 2011.  Here are five reasons Helio is still the driver to beat at Indianapolis:

 

1. Experience

Castroneves has greater experience than the majority of the field. He has finished sixth on average in ten career starts in Indianapolis, and thus, it is more than likely that Castroneves will be in contention during the closing laps of the coming race.

 

2. No mistakes

At Indy, Castroneves has rarely made mistakes that cost him the race.  With the exception of a 2006 accident with Vitor Meira, he has been in the running in each race at Indy.

 

3. The Penske Factor

Team Penske is the most dominant team ever to set up shop in Gasoline Alley.  With fifteen Indy 500 victories, Penske has Indianapolis figured out and then some.  In effect, Castroneves cannot be counted out of any 500, no matter the circumstances.

 

4. The Element of Surprise

Starting sixteenth, Castroneves is in the worst starting position of his eleven career Indy starts.  He was never a factor on Pole Day and currently is not receiving much attention from the media despite his status as a veteran and history in Indianapolis.  Look for Castroneves to sneak his way up the field in time for the last 50 miles.

 

5. Patience

Indy great Rick Mears once said, "To finish first, first you must finish."  Castroneves often quotes the former Penske driver's sage advice, and thus is likely aware that patience is vital in this 500-mile race. He will need plenty of it if he is to join Mears as a four-time winner. 

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