May 30, 2021
Year of the veteran?
I just viewed the fastest Indy 500 in history with only two yellow flags. The first was for Stefan Wilson’s spin on pit road. The second flew after a turn two spin by Graham Rahal when a loose rear wheel flew off. The speed record is not what had me excited, rather, it was win number four by Helio Castroneves. He joins AJ Foyt, Al Unser Sr., and Rick Mears as four-time winners in what could be arguably the most prestigious race in the world.
Castroneves is now the fourth oldest winner of the 500. The most elder were Al Unser Sr. 47 (1987), Bobby Unser 47 (1981), and Emerson Fittipaldi 46 (1983).
The last four-time winner was Rick Mears thirty years ago driving for Roger Penske. Castroneves third win was eleven years ago when he also was driving for Penske Racing.
After the race, Castroneves gave one of the most jubilant post-race celebrations ever. He did his “Spider Man” climb of the start/finish line fence, twice, He was congratulated by many as he jogged the front stretch waving to the fans who were shouting, “Helio! Helio! Helio!”
When the track officials finally herded Castroneves to the elevated Victory Circle, he was congratulated by his old boss and now owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Roger Penske. Then it was the victory laurel wreath and the drink of strawberry milk and one of the most enthusiastic celebrations I can recall. I do not think many of the 135,000 fans left for some time after the race.
Simon Pagenaud who finished third said this about his good friend Castroneves, “At the end I was pedal to the metal. I didn’t care. Just wanted to get to these guys and have some fun with them. I could see Helio was playing a very smart game. Obviously, he knows how to win the race. Alex (Palou) was trying his best to hold him off. Helio was just biding his time.”
“What a great team effort. Everyone was in sync. We didn’t make any mistakes. Number four – what a moment. I’m just so honored to be a part of this amazing group with A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears. This is absolutely a dream come true.”
Castroneves, who started eighth, finished a stirring duel with 24-year-old Spaniard Alex Palou over the closing laps by passing Palou with a daring outside move in Turn 1 on Lap 199. He held off Palou’s No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda to win by .4928 of a second.
Swanson wins two of three over weekend
Readers of UpNorth Motorsports recognize that with hundreds of drivers along with a multitude of race tracks, I am unable to feature most of them in an episode. For several years I have been following Kingsburg, California’s Kody Swanson who I met when he was an unknown in the racing world.
He continues to amaze me with his prowess in a race car. This past weekend strengthened that feeling when Swanson took two out of three major wins in what was supposed to be two days, Day one was the Carb Night Classic at Lucas Oil Raceway, Brownsburg, Indiana Friday May 28.
Swanson was to debut in the USAC Silver Crown Series opener with the Doran Racing Team. Doran had never fielded a Silver Crown car before. Rain forced the race to be held Saturday morning at 10 am.
Swanson was also scheduled to drive the Jerome Rodella USAC Midget after the Silver Crown race. Like the Silver Crown race, the midget event was bumped to early Saturday afternoon.
The rain presented somewhat of a dilemma for Swanson since he was on the pole at the Little 500 later on Saturday at Anderson Speedway approximately 57 miles away a little over an hour’s drive. Swanson was able to make the trip, arriving just as the mandatory driver’s meeting was commencing.
Swanson’s brother, Tanner, set fastest time in qualifying Friday. However, later in practice he smacked the turn one wall and tweaked his right front suspension. Had the race not been postponed he would have been unable to start.
The Saturday morning start allowed the team to repair the Bowman Racing car. During a short practice period the team discovered a problem which by the time they had repaired the culprit the race was four laps in the books. Swanson later ended up in the turn 3/4 wall when he came together with rookie Jake Day.
Kody Swanson dueled with Bobby Santos III until lap 63 when Kody took the lead for good. Finishing in the top five were Bobby Santos, David Byrne, Justin Grant and Taylor Ferns, who was making her first USAC Silver Crown race.
“We have a great race team here,” Swanson said. “It’s our first time with Doran Racing in the Silver Crown series and they worked their tails off to make this thing better every time. They didn’t give up.”
“Early on (in the morning’s warm-up session), I didn’t think I had the car to keep up with (Santos) for a hundred laps. I just had to hope that maybe we had a chance at the end. Luckily, with traffic and the track changing some, maybe it came to us a little bit and gave us a chance. I’m so grateful for everyone that’s part of this team, everyone that supports it and my wife Jordan from the spotter’s stand.”
With Swanson’s race win in the midget race, he became the first person to win both races on Carb Day at Lucas Oil Raceway since Dave Steele won both Midget races in 2002. Swanson was the first to win both races in two different classes of cars, however.
He was followed home by Thomas Meseraull, Bobby Santos, younger brother Tanner Swanson and Justin Grant.
“I can’t say enough about (this team),” Swanson exclaimed. “Everyone puts in a ton of effort, and this has got to be the nicest midget there ever was, and it deserves to win races. Jerome (Rodela) has done nothing but be ahead of the game on his end. I’m thankful that he let me be a part of this.”
Meanwhile at Little 500
Five hundred laps around a high banked 1/4-mile Anderson Speedway, Anderson, Indiana on the night before the Indy 500 has made the Payless Little 500 one of the most prestigious races in the sprint car world. The 33 starters make for a crowded field where lapping often begins in less than a handful of laps.
Kody Swanson was hoping to sweep the day when he arrived at the track fresh off the two wins at Lucas Oil Raceway earlier in the day. His pole position start was a good sign.
Tyler Roahrig, Plymouth Indiana had something to say about that possibility. In his sixth start of the Little 500, Roahrig who started from the middle of row one, dominated the second half of the race leading 254 of the final 260 laps.
Near the end of the race, the only cars on the lead lap were Roahrig, Kody Swanson, and Tanner Swanson. A couple late race cautions proved to be no problem for Roahrig when he pulled away from Kody (2.066 seconds) and his brother Tanner (12.783 seconds) at the checkered flag.
“Last night we finally won our first Pay Less Little 500 Presented by UAW at Anderson Speedway,” said race winner Roahrig. ” As always it was a total team effort, I am just the one who is lucky enough to sit behind the wheel. To no surprise, my pit crew and spotter were flawless all night, we were the first one out of the pits on both stops, which sure made my job easier.”
Kody Swanson’s race weekend ended with these remarks, “Our Week of Indy turned into the Day of Indy, and we ended up just one spot short. We had 2 incredible teams, 3 great racecars, and after 630 feature laps we came home with 2 Wins and 1 Second.”
Must watch! Little 500 pit stop with Kody Swanson
For folks watching Indy and NASCAR pit stops, this Little 500 pit stop is very interesting. Thank you to Linda Mansfield, Restart Communications!
Let’s go racing,
Soli Deo Gloria (Matthew 5:16)