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TACH SPECIAL: Castroneves Delivers Historic Victory For Penske

By David Treffer,
Contributing Editor, The Auto Channel

May 27, 2001

The 85th edition of the Indianapolis 500 will be remembered as the successful return of The Captain to the Brickyard. It will also be remembered for the dominant winning performance by another Indy 500 rookie.

The Captain also known as Roger Penske and the rookie, Penske driver Elio Castroneves, entered the history books of the most famous race in the United States. For Penske the victory was the 11th time that one of his racecars entered victory lane. For Castroneves, a rookie at Indy, the victory was a continuation of rookies winning the fabled race. Last year, current F1 Williams driver Juan Pablo Montoya guided his Ganassi-Target racecar to victory. Castroneves, like Montoya before him, competes regularly in the rival CART Indy car series.

To make the victory even sweeter, Castroneves teammate Gil de Ferran placed second. It was the first 1-2 finish for Penske. The sweep by the Penske drivers helped to vanquish the bitter memories of 1995 when Penske failed to qualify a car. 1995 was also the last year that Penske entered a car at Indy. The following year the IRL was created. No one from the rival CART series entered a car until car owners Derrick Walker and Chip Ganassi determined that a return to Indy was necessary.

Castroneves will be remembered not just for his dramatic drive to victory but also for his victory lap leap that has become a trademark for the CART driver affectionately known as Spiderman.Castroneves, rather than turning into victory lane, parked his car at the famous yard of bricks leapt out of the car and vaulted onto the catch fencing. The massive crowd of spectators roared their approval. Castroneves eventually found his way to victory lane to drink the traditional quart of milk that awaits the victor. But a new tradition may have been started at the famous oval.

So another CART driver has won the rival series best-known race. This was not a walk over by the Penske drivers but just for the record, CART drivers swept the top five positions. Who knows what rule change may occur before next year's race. So let Castroneves and Penske enjoy this one.

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