What Danica Patrick learned about fitness and herself while training for her first Boston Marathon

Danica Patrick will cross off a bucket-list item with her first 26.2-mile race, the Boston Marathon.

Among the 20,000 Boston Marathon runners in this year’s race, Danica Patrick probably won’t stand out right away. But the number adorning her bib during Monday’s race might catch people’s attention, if they’re looking closely.

For her first 26.2-miler, Patrick will wear bib No. 500 in the prestigious marathon. Referencing her 14-year career at the highest levels of motor sports, the number is a nod to her achievements in the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500 from the Boston Athletic Association, the event organizer.

And when she crosses the finish line — she hopes near the four-hour mark — she’ll check off a lifelong goal.

“The only bucket list item I have is to run a marathon,” Patrick told For The Win recently.

“And I hope that it will be fun because the focuses have been train, be prepared, feel good, have fun.”

Since retiring from racing in NASCAR and IndyCar in 2018, Patrick has only slowed down in the literal sense. She’s been part of NBC’s Indy 500 broadcasts; last year, she launched Danica Rosé, sourced from Provence, France, and still has her Napa Valley-based wine brand, Somnium; and she hosts a weekly podcast called, Pretty Intense. And, of course, she’s still a fitness expert who regularly posts her workouts and motivational messages to her hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers.

But marathon training is totally different from something like CrossFit or a tough workout Patrick writes for herself. Luckily, she’s not doing it alone.

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Patrick, 39, expects this to be her only marathon. And she’ll be joined by her “ride or die fitness crew” and two training partners: her sister, Brooke Selman, 37, and their friend, Erin Buntin, 43. They’re all fitness buffs who do CrossFit and push each other, and Monday, they’ll all run their first 26.2-miler together in the 125th Boston Marathon.

Typically, runners have to qualify for the Boston Marathon, so they’ve completed at least one 26.2-mile race before. But Patrick, Selman and Buntin are able to run Boston without qualifying because they’re running to support a charity, the Light Foundation, started by former New England Patriot Matt Light. Patrick is the honorary captain for Team Speed of Light. The three have collectively raised about $48,000, Buntin said.

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“When you’re like, ‘I’m running Boston,’ [people are] like, ‘Oh, where do you qualify?’ And they almost discredit you a little bit,” Selman said. “And I’m like, screw that. … What we’re doing is really neat because we’re running with a purpose.”

The trio have been training for the Boston Marathon since about Memorial Day, but most of the time, they’re not physically together with Patrick based in Scottsdale, Selman in Indianapolis and Buntin in Green Bay.

All three agreed Patrick is the most natural runner among them, and the retired race car driver said that goes back to when she was growing up and would run with her mom early in the mornings — even in the winters. She said while running long distances isn’t part of her typical workout routines, it always feels comfortable and familiar.

In part because of that, Patrick said she went into her marathon training confident. Perhaps too confident, as she focused more on the longer runs than the shorter ones in between. So “as the mileage got cranking,” there was a bit of a reality check.

“[Arizona] has been so nuclear hot,” Patrick said about her training this summer. “And so I think my 16- and 18-mile runs really made me realize, ‘Holy crap, I better dial this in because I feel terrible right now.'”

So she adjusted her training and focus. But she said because “the nature of the sport is really hard on the body” — and in very different way than NASCAR and IndyCar were — she’s gained a greater perspective about the importance of recovery, like dry needling, and refueling. From electrolytes and sodium to energy gel products recommended by Selman, Patrick said she’s learned how to sustain her body properly for a feat like the marathon.

And as she ran from wherever her schedule allowed — like desert training at home in Arizona and “punishing” altitude runs in Telluride, Colorado — hydration has been everything.

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Patrick noted she’s also learned to play the “mental game” of distance running. Thinking about what hurts and what feels good during a long run, the mind games she plays with herself help her push past the pain — or, as she recently wrote on Instagram, when “[expletive] gets real after about 12” miles.

“‘I’m gonna take a UCAN Edge [energy gel] at mile 14, I just gotta get to mile 14,'” Patrick said she tells herself.

“‘OK, I know every mile, I’m going to take a big drink of my electrolytes. That’s gonna feel really good.’ And so you just start making mini goals. But the body is really giving you the big middle finger, saying, ‘This hurts. This is hard. I’m dehydrated.'”

And if Patrick, Selman or Buntin need help or an extra push, there’s a group chat for that. Patrick said she and Buntin — who met at a CrossFit gym in Green Bay a few years ago — have built a “strong foundation” for their friendship rooted in working out, which quickly included Selman.

“We talk every single day about either how your runs are going or fueling,” Selman said. “What are you doing and drinking and hydration and all that stuff. We are constantly talking, and it is a topic that we talk about literally every day.”

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Although the three soon-to-be marathoners live in different cities across the country, they’ve still found a handful of times to run together, like they will in Boston. Buntin said she and Selman ran together in Madison this summer, and more recently, Patrick and Buntin completed their final long training run, a 16-miler, in Chicago early last week and have since been in taper mode.

But as a group, the only time the three of them have trained for the marathon together was their longest training run, a 20-miler in Napa in September. And they treated it — like they have been with several of their longer runs — as a dress rehearsal for Boston, wearing the same clothes they intend to wear on race day down to the socks and coming prepared with supplies to limit chafing or blisters.

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“This whole thing has really proven to be a growth for us mentally, physically, emotionally [and], I would say, even spiritually,” Buntin said. “And so those are the motivations, right? So if somebody is in a mental block or has a [expletive] run, you have two people going, ‘We’ll break it down,’ and, ‘What were your shining moments in it?’ Or ‘[Where] physically you’re having a hard time?'”

For some people attempting a marathon for the first time, the goal can simply be to finish. As a self-described “non-runner,” Buntin’s goals for Boston were more focused on having a strong training program and enjoying it and being injury-free on race day. Selman is aiming to have the kind of race where she feels good — or as good as one could expect — by the end.

For Patrick, as she was building up her mileage early on in training, she was running about 8:15-minute miles and initially thought an 8:40 pace for Boston would be attainable. But after learning more about her body through training, plus weather potentially playing a role, she and her group have a more realistic goal of a four-hour marathon – or a little higher than a nine-minute mile pace.

But Patrick outlined tiers of goals for her first marathon, ranging from breaking four hours to a 9:30-minute mile pace to finishing the race. And running and staying together through all 26.2 miles will “make a really big difference,” she said.

“It will help be really distracting to just be running with your friends and being able to run together,” Patrick said. “It’s like, y’all just kind of pull each other along.

“And it’s supposed to be fun! I’m not going to set some world record. I’m not going to go win the race; that’s not going to happen. And so the point is that it’s something that I wanted to do.”

Still, the Boston Marathon course is a daunting one that includes the infamous Heartbreak Hill — the final in a series of hills with a steep half-mile incline at mile 20 when runners’ legs are anything but fresh. But Patrick renamed it, Buntin said, to something more positive because once the hill is completed, there are only about six miles left.

“We felt like the name Heartbreak Hill had such a fearful word tied to it that we’ve actually referred to as Home Free Hill,” Buntin said. “Because once we get beyond that, we are literally home free.”

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IndyCar champ Alex Palou breaks down the lessons he learned from Jimmie Johnson, Scott Dixon about how to win a title

Alex Palou’s teammates have multiple championships on their resumes. And the young IndyCar driver took notes.

Alex Palou knows he didn’t become a first-time IndyCar Series champion by himself.

In addition to his Chip Ganassi Racing teammates who work to make his No. 10 Honda as fast as possible, Palou was guided through only his second IndyCar season by several multi-time champions, like teammates Scott Dixon, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Kanaan — plus Dario Franchitti, who’s been working as a mentor-coach in the Ganassi organization.

When listing them all off, Palou joked he had no idea just how many total championships that group has put together. (Altogether, they have 18 championships: Dixon with six, Franchitti has four, Kanaan adds one and Johnson amassed seven in NASCAR.)

“It’s insane,” Palou told For The Win. “The opportunity that I got to learn from all them and to lean on them and to tell them how I feel or what’s my issue — it’s been great.”

And Palou has taken notes, particularly from Dixon and Johnson. He said learning from these past racing champions “100 percent” helped him earn his first title.

The 24-year-old newly crowned champion from Barcelona began competing in open-wheeled racing in the Euroformula Open Championship in 2014 before starting in the Formula 3 Series and competing at the All-Japan Formula 3 championship. But, as he told The Athletic earlier this year, his “biggest target” was making it to IndyCar. And win a title.

His rookie IndyCar season was with Dale Coyne Racing, but he made the jump to Chip Ganassi Racing, the now-14-time IndyCar championship team, for his second season, surrounded by champions.

MORE INDYCAR: New IndyCar champ Alex Palou on his favorite celebratory meal: ‘I’ve had loads of fried chicken’

Palou said while Dixon — who was the defending IndyCar champ — is “relentless” on the track, he’s also poised and calculated. And Palou has tried to learn from Dixon’s approach and composure.

“It was not about learning how to be quick; it’s more about learning how to be consistent, how to manage the races,” Palou explained. “The way he thinks about the races, and the way he tries to put himself in the best position — that’s what I learned.”

Consistency is one way to describe Palou’s second IndyCar season. After finishing 16th in the standings as a rookie in 2020, Palou won the first race of 2021 at Barber Motorsports Park, and then went on to win two more at Road America and Portland International Raceway, plus one pole, eight podiums and 10 top-5 finishes in 16 races.

Even on IndyCar’s biggest stage at the Indianapolis 500 in May, Palou got loose during qualifying and slammed into the outside wall. His team repaired the car, Palou remained composed and he qualified sixth before finishing as the runner-up behind four-time Indy 500 champ Hélio Castroneves.

“[Dixon is] always is able to get 100 percent out of the car, and he always maximizes the opportunity he has,” Palou continued. “So if he has a bad day, instead of making it even worse — trying to go for a crazy overtake or crazy strategy — he just tries to make it just a normal day.”

There’s plenty for Palou to learn from 41-year-old and 21-season veteran Dixon. But in IndyCar, Palou has one more year of experience on Johnson, so he said they leaned on each other.

“It was weird just because sometimes [Johnson] was asking me questions, right?” Palou said. “And I was like, ‘Jimmie, you’re the champion here. I am the guy asking you questions.’ But no, he was working super, super hard this year, and he was getting up to speed. I think next year, he’s gonna turn around lots of faces.”

So what could Palou have learned from Johnson, a 46-year-old IndyCar rookie who faced a steep learning curve in a new racing discipline? A champion’s mindset and an “amazing” worth ethic, he said.

Palou said he learned how Johnson thinks and operates and then tried to mimic it, which sometimes included being woken up at the crack of dawn by the former NASCAR driver.

“If I was a seven-time NASCAR champion now, I wouldn’t be working that hard,” Palou said. “He’s able to text me at five in the morning, thinking about the setup of the car or something about the simulator or or something to improve. So I learned the work ethic.”

Palou added that Johnson also advised him about what to expect through the final weeks of the season. Palou was clearly a championship contender, and in addition to any internal or team pressure, he said Johnson warned him about more weight from the media reciting stats, odds and points scenarios to him.

And Johnson helped him “forget about all that” and focus on the job, Palou said.

“It’s been awesome to being able to ask somebody how to deal with that or how to think about that,” he said.

“It was my first time, and [Johnson] did it for a long, long time. So yeah, I’ve been extremely lucky to get lots of tips from these two guys.”

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New IndyCar champ Alex Palou on his favorite celebratory meal: ‘I’ve had loads of fried chicken’

IndyCar champion Alex Palou on his title race, his nerves beforehand and a week of fried chicken.

Before the IndyCar Series season finale, the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, ended on Sunday in Southern California, Alex Palou was already a first-time champion.

The 24-year-old Chip Ganassi Racing driver didn’t need to win the last race of the season to claim his championship; he just needed an 11th-place finish or better to edge out the two other title contenders, Josef Newgarden and Pato O’Ward. But late in the race and after O’Ward was knocked out of contention after being rear-ended, Palou clinched his first title on his way to a fourth-place finish.

In just his second IndyCar season, Palou became the first Spaniard to win the championship, and he’s the seventh-youngest champ and the first younger than 25 years old since his now-teammate Scott Dixon won back in 2003.

For The Win spoke with Palou on Wednesday about his championship race, why he’s happy he didn’t know he won before the race ended and his famous celebratory meal, fried chicken.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Jimmie Johnson says he’s ‘open’ to running a NASCAR race again with interest from some teams

Will we see Jimmie Johnson racing in NASCAR again?

Jimmie Johnson is in the middle of his rookie IndyCar Series season and still working through the steep learning curves of piloting an open-wheeled race car.

The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champ retired from racing stock cars full time at the end of the 2020 season to make the jump to IndyCar and live out a childhood dream. So far, his best finish was 19th in his IndyCar debut in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama in April, and most recently, in the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix on a Nashville street course, he wrecked during qualifying and in the race, failing to finish.

But Johnson said he’s “open” to possibly returning to NASCAR for a moonlighting gig if the right opportunity presents itself.

In a Q&A published Wednesday by The Charlotte Observer, when asked if he’d come back to NASCAR if it adds a street race, Johnson laughed and said:

“I’m open. More than anything, I’m trying to keep my race count around 20 races a year and with my road and street courses in IndyCar and then the four IMSA races I’m running for Action Express Racing; I’m right around that 20-race mark. So I’m open, and if a good opportunity came along I would seriously consider it.”

In the IndyCar Series, Johnson is behind the wheel of the No. 48 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, and because Chip Ganassi Racing fields two NASCAR cars as well, returning to stock cars could have been a real option for him.

However, Trackhouse Racing — the NASCAR Cup Series team co-owned by international superstar Pitbull and Justin Marks — announced in June that it’s buying Ganassi’s two-car NASCAR team and will take over in 2022. And Johnson’s former NASCAR team, Hendrick Motorsports, already has a maximum of four cars in the field, so that’s not currently a plausible option for him either.

Johnson also addressed how Ganassi’s exit from NASCAR could impact a potential NASCAR return. More from The Charlotte Observer:

“[T]hat seemed like a very easy, logical path to come run some NASCAR events. There’s the Hendrick Motorsports alliance, plus obviously driving the Ganassi IndyCar, so there’s the crossover. Now that opportunity is no longer there, but the phone has been ringing some. There is some interest from other NASCAR teams out there. I wish that the rules would allow Hendrick to run a fifth car because I would love to come back with Mr. Hendrick and moonlight a little bit in one of his cars, but I don’t know if there’s a realistic way to pull that off.”

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IndyCar drivers are discovering Uncrustables, and their delighted reactions are so pure

“The hype is real!” IndyCar’s Alex Palou said after trying Uncrustables.

NASCAR turned IndyCar driver Jimmie Johnson is an avid cyclist, and one time during a charity ride he was doing with IndyCar star Tony Kanaan, Johnson introduced his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate to Uncrustables — the Smucker’s peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with bread that famously lacks the crust.

“I’m starving in the middle of the ride, and Jimmie pulls out of his pocket an Uncrustable snack, which I never knew [of] — which, for people that don’t know — because I’m bloody Brazilian,” Kanaan explained in a video his team published in April. (Johnson and Kanaan are sharing the No. 48 Honda this season.)

“It was a peanut butter and jelly [sandwich] that he actually freezes in the freezer, puts it in his pocket, and during the ride, it unfreezes and you can just eat. And since then, I eat that thing — it’s so many calories, but anyway — every time I open that thing, it reminds me of Jimmie.”

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Well, Kanaan isn’t the only IndyCar driver discovering an unknown love for Uncrustables. Others are too, and their reactions are delightfully pure.

Take Scott McLaughlin, the 28-year-old Team Penske driver from Australia and New Zealand who’s become a rising star as an IndyCar rookie this year. And as he learns more and more about the U.S., he’s sharing his experiences and reactions with his fans with the hashtag #ScottLearnsAmerica.

McLaughlin’s latest checked-off to-do item was an Uncrustables sandwich, which he said was “unreal”. (Other things on his checklist include going to Walmart, Waffle House, an NFL tailgate and Yellowstone National Park.)

After noticing Kanaan’s and McLaughlin’s reactions to trying Uncrustables for the first time, Alex Palou decided to see what the big deal is.

Palou — Johnson and Kanaan’s 24-year-old Chip Ganassi Racing teammate from Barcelona who’s currently at the top of the IndyCar standings — was similarly “blown away.”

But no matter how much Kanaan, McLaughlin or Palou love Uncrustables, the sandwich’s biggest fan in motor sports has to be NASCAR driver Alex Bowman, Johnson’s former Hendrick Motorsports teammate in the Cup Series.

Bowman absolutely adores Uncrustables, and he eats and talks about them all the time. Hilariously, his crew chief, Greg Ives, once described him as his “uncrustable eating wheel man”.

And after winning his first race of the 2021 NASCAR season in April at Richmond Raceway, his sponsor, Ally Financial, helped him celebrate with boxes on boxes of Uncrustables.

So obviously, Bowman was pretty pumped to see IndyCar drivers jumping on the bandwagon.

Maybe more IndyCar drivers will discover Uncrustables and a new favorite snack.

“You should try it straight out of the freezer,” Johnson said to Kanaan in the Chip Ganassi Racing video. “It’s like a dessert then.”

“OK, here we go,” Kanaan replied, joking that his kids now love Uncrustables too and blaming Johnson.

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We asked Jimmie Johnson’s IndyCar teammates to grade the rookie’s season so far

Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Alex Palou and Marcus Ericsson evaluated Jimmie Johnson’s rookie IndyCar season.

Jimmie Johnson is still working through the sharp learning curve that comes with switching from one highly competitive racing discipline after two decades to a totally different one.

With a record-tying seven NASCAR Cup Series championships on his resume, Johnson retired from NASCAR and kicked off the 2021 IndyCar Series season as a 45-year-old rookie living out his childhood dream. This season, Johnson is competing in 13 road and street courses behind the wheel of the No. 48 Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing, while IndyCar veteran Tony Kanaan is racing on the ovals.

But jumping from stock cars to open-wheeled ones is no easy task. For Johnson’s first IndyCar race at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, he was thrilled to not qualify last and satisfied just to have finished the race.

Johnson finished 19th of 24 drivers at Barber in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, he was 22nd in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and 24th in the GMR Grand Prix on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course.

“I had fun. I can’t hide from the fact that I’m a rookie. I can’t overstate enough just how different IndyCar is from NASCAR,” Johnson told the Detroit Free Press. “From car to procedures, race format, across the board tracks, everything is new. I really do feel like I’m starting over.”

After Kanaan took over for the Indianapolis 500 while Johnson was part of NBC Sports’ broadcast team, Johnson will return to the track for the Detroit Grand Prix doubleheader Saturday and Sunday.

Though it’s still early in Johnson’s rookie season, For The Win asked his Chip Ganassi Racing teammates — Kanaan, Scott Dixon, Alex Palou and Marcus Ericsson — to evaluate his performance so far and offer a letter grade.

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Hélio Castroneves reveals the patient strategy that won him a record-tying 4th Indy 500

“I never stopped believing,” Hélio Castroneves told For The Win about his Indy 500 victory.

About 20 hours after taking the checkered flag in one of the biggest motor sports events on the globe, Hélio Castroneves says he’s still “over the moon,” managing the wild waves of emotion he’s experienced since winning Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.

It wasn’t just any win for the 46-year-old Meyer Shank Racing driver. It was his fourth Indy 500 win — with a thrilling finish — and a record-tying victory that elevated the already legendary driver into an elite category with A.J. Foyt (1961, 1964, 1967, 1977), Al Unser Sr. (1970, 1971, 1978, 1987) and Rick Mears (1979, 1984, 1988, 1991).

But win No. 4 came 20 years after his first and 12 years after his most recent one. Previously winning the 2001, 2002 and 2009 Indy 500s all with Team Penske, Castroneves is now the first driver to win “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” with two different teams.

And he did it by patiently out-smarting the field, which set the record for the fastest Indy 500 in history with an average speed of 190.690 miles per hour.

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Less than a day after Castroneves climbed the fence lining the frontstretch of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, kissed the bricks and doused himself in milk, For The Win spoke with the 2021 Indy 500 champ.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

So how does it feel, the “four-win” club? Has it sunk in yet, or did it sink in right away?

Actually, [I was] taking pictures right behind [here] with the car, and I saw the newspaper. I’m like, I started getting emotional again. It is an incredible feeling.

Rick Mears sent me a message and like, “Call me when you have a chance. I know you’re busy.” I was like, I want to, I’m dying to call him. We’ve known each other for a long time, and I really cherish the friendship, and so it feels great. And I don’t know how it feels right now, to be honest, like shocked in the moment.

(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Have you slept at all?

I went sleep at three o’clock in the morning trying to answer the messages. I had about 400 messages, and half of them was from Team Penske, which is great. My friends from there, which is really cool to have them cheering me up and what a special thing.

After the race, you jumped into Conor Daly’s arms, you celebrated with your old Team Penske teammates, you got a kiss from Mario Andretti. What does it mean that all these other people — a lot of them who are competitors of yours — were so excited to see you win the Indy 500 for the fourth time?

It shows respect in what we did here, was something special. We’re part of history here, been 30 years since a driver won four times, I think. A lot of the fans love to see that. Probably some of the drivers, they say, “If I cannot win, I want to see or I want to be part of history.” Well, it happened. So I feel when everybody expressed their feelings, the way I see it, it’s respect.

What was the highlight of your celebration?

I don’t know, I had so many! With the crowd. I have to say, the crowd chanting my name, that was something that I was very touched by. That was something very special.

After you climbed the fence last night, you crouched down for what seemed like a moment of disbelief. What was going through your mind immediately after you won?

I couldn’t contain my emotions. Well, this is something that my mom always said. You know, “You got to be yourself, and if you’re happy, you’re happy. If you’re sad, you’re sad.”

But yesterday, I couldn’t contain my emotions. How incredible we were able to achieve that, the way we did it — that’s why I was so emotional.

You talked about winning one for the old guys and mentioned Tom Brady. If you could have a celebratory drink with Tom Brady tonight, what would you want to say to him?

I want to say how he did it, because that was my first question after the Super Bowl was over. It’s like, “That is incredible.” I want to ask [him] how he did it.

Well, I gotta change that question now. I would say, “How long you want to keep going? I will follow your footsteps.”

Helio Castroneves passes Alex Palou for the lead during the 2021 Indianapolis 500. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Simon Pagenaud pointed out between Lap 185 and you making your move to the front, you were just playing along and trying to figure out what was going on. And team co-owner Mike Shank said he realized a little bit earlier that he thought you were playing a chess match. Is that what you were doing, just planning and waiting?

Yeah, my car gave so much opportunity for me to do what I want, and because of that, I had the luxury to be stalking people and not want to pass. And that was my goal, waiting for the right opportunity for us and put myself in the position and studying a little bit my opponents. That, for sure, was a great strategy.

And the team noticed that. I didn’t talk much. I guess they realized what I was doing, and they just let me do my thing. And my thing turned out to be the right thing.

Does that mean you’re the smartest driver out there?

Yesterday, for sure. Not always. But yesterday, for sure.

You said you had the luxury of being able to stalk your opponents. How far out are you planning that? Is that your plan from the beginning of the race, or do things shift a little bit once you get to the halfway point or 50 laps left?

No, that was Lap 2, probably, I already started doing what I need to do, and from there on, that’s what paid off. In fact, the first yellow, we saw so many good contenders have issues, and we’re the same strategy. But we were just a little bit better, and that’s what it takes.

(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Going into Sunday’s race, did you have any kind of feeling that the day might be a little extra special?

I felt confident. I felt focused. I felt good. I felt trust. I felt ready. But again, this place is not about what you feel. This place, basically, [is about] who is the winner? And I had all the checkbox lists. So I put myself in this opportunity to make that happen.

Is a fifth Indy 500 win possible? Is that something you’d like to pursue?

Absolutely. I mean, come on! People have doubts. Yes, it was 12 years of waiting, but I never stopped believing. That’s why I’m still doing it. And I tell you what, there was a lot of people around me that believed, as well, and that’s why Mike Shank and the entire group believed me. So what we did, what we had, was awesome. But we can do more.

Years from now, what do you hope you remember about Sunday’s race?

I believe there was so many mixed feelings from not only myself but the entire fans. First time after the pandemic that everybody was able to get out their houses and join the incredible day, which was a beautiful day. But I want them to remember, we did something special. Not many people were able to see a four-time win, and yesterday we were able to see that. And I’m glad I was able to provide that.

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Hélio Castroneves compares himself to Tom Brady, Phil Mickelson after 4th Indy 500 win

“The old guys still got it!” Hélio Castroneves said after winning Sunday’s Indy 500.

This one was for the old guys, Hélio Castroneves said after winning the fourth Indianapolis 500 of his illustrious career on Sunday.

The 46-year-old Brazilian driver took the checkered flag at Indianapolis Motor Speedway thanks to an incredible pass for the lead over Alex Palou with just two laps remaining in the 200-lap, 500-mile spectacle. He also won the iconic race in 2001, 2002 and 2009.

Beloved by fans and his fellow competitors, Castroneves celebrated his win in quintessential fashion by climbing the fence around the frontstretch, running up and down the track to show his love for the fans and, of course, dumping a bottle of milk on his head.

After the race, he also gave a shoutout to Tom Brady and Phil Mickelson as a couple other older athletes who have won big in 2021.

Talking to NBC Sports from the winner’s circle, Castroneves said after winning his fourth Indy 500 two decades after winning his first:

“Let me tell you: It’s not the end of it. It’s the beginning. I tell you what. Look, I don’t know if this is a good comparison or not, but Tom Brady won the Super Bowl, Phil Mickelson won [the PGA Championship], and now here we go. So the old guys still got it, still kicking the young guys’ butts! We teach them a lesson! I tell you what: This is absolutely incredible. Can’t thank you enough, everyone here.”

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Castroneves also shared his love for his family, the Indy 500, its fans and the people of Indiana. He said:

“This state is absolutely incredible. I love Indianapolis. You guys don’t understand. The fans, they give me energy! I’m serious, you don’t understand! This is absolutely incredible.”

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See Hélio Castroneves win his 4th Indy 500 with this thrilling late pass

Hélio Castroneves is a 4-time Indy 500 champ.

With just two laps to go in the 105th Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, veteran superstar Hélio Castroneves passed Alex Palou for the lead in thrilling fashion and held on to win his fourth Indy 500.

The 46-year-old Meyer Shank Racing driver joined A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears as the only four-time Indy 500 champs in history.

And Castroneves celebrated his stunning victory the only way he could: Climbing the fence on the frontstretch of Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 2.5-mile track to celebrate with the fans in the grandstands.

It’s how the Brazilian driver celebrated previous Indy 500 wins, so of course, the tradition continued Sunday.

With 10 laps remaining in the 200-lap, 500-mile race, Castroneves was running among the top-5 drivers, and it was likely that a couple cars ahead of him would have to pit before the race ended. Sure enough, those cars did, putting Castroneves in the lead with just six laps remaining.

But Palou in the No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing car was chasing him. With five laps remaining, Palou passed Castroneves for the lead, but with two to go, the now-four-time Indy 500 champ made his winning move.

Castroneves passed Palou for the lead along the frontstretch of the track and pulled away for the checkered flag.

Here’s a look at the other times Castroneves climbed the fence around Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

Helio Castroneves after winning the 2001 Indy 500. (AP Photo/Dave Parker)
Helio Castroneves after winning the 2009 Indy 500. (Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

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Graham Rahal’s Indy 500 run ended in devastating fashion after he lost a tire and crashed

Graham Rahal’s Indy 500 ended early this year.

Graham Rahal’s 2021 Indianapolis 500 run ended in heartbreaking fashion when his No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing lost a tire and sent Rahal into the wall on Sunday.

One of the favorites to win, Rahal was racing for his first Indy 500 win in his 14th start.

He qualified 18th for the race, made his way to the front of the field and led 18 laps around Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s iconic 2.5-mile oval. Not long after the halfway point of the 200-lap, 500-mile race, Rahal went in to pit his car, but that stop didn’t appear to go well.

It looked like the left-rear tire was not fastened to the car properly before Rahal too off. So when he exited pit road, the tire came off the car for a nightmare situation. He spun out of control before crashing into the track’s outside wall in Turn 2, and his rogue tire bounced around the track before hitting Conor Daly’s No. 47 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet.

After wrecking on Lap 119, Rahal was luckily able to climb out of his car, which was destroyed. Daly was able to continue racing, and here’s another look at that wheel coming at him head-on.

After being evaluated and cleared by the infield medical center, a devastated Rahal said, “This one’s hard to accept.” He told NBC Sports:

“It’s famous last words, but we had ’em. We had ’em. The fuel saving that we were doing, the car, you know, we were in the perfect spot. We were just cruising. … I feel like I was doing a good job in the car, we got ourselves where we needed to be. We *had* them today.”

Only the second driver out of the Indy 500 at that point, Rahal finished 32nd.

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