Helio Castroneves capped a perfect month of May with the biggest win of all, pulling away to capture his third Indianapolis 500 just 5 1/2 weeks after being acquitted of tax evasion charges.
Castroneves, who hopped back in his Team Penske race car as soon as he was cleared of charges that could have sent him to prison for six years, became just the ninth driver to win the historic race three times — and he’s only one win away from joining the most elite group of all: four-time winners A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears.
The 34-year-old Brazilian pulled away over the final laps to beat Dan Wheldon and Danica Patrick, who eclipsed her historic fourth-place finish as a rookie in 2005 by crossing the strips of bricks in third.
This day belonged to Castroneves, who pumped his fist all the way down the final straightaway.
“I want to climb the fence,” said the driver known as “Spiderman,” referring to his signature celebration.
Then he did just that, hopping out of his car after the victory lap and scaling the fence along the main grandstand with his pit crew.
“This is incredible,” said Castroneves, who was sobbing as he got the trademark bottle of milk.