By Drew Hierwarter
Just a little over a month ago, Helio Castroneves didn’t know if his racing career would be over or not. He had spent the previous six months preparing for his defense of federal tax evasion charges. As he sat in the courtroom waiting for the decision of the jury, no one, least of all Castroneves himself, could be sure what the next phase of his life would be like.
The crimes he had been charged with carried a maximum penalty of 35 years behind bars. Although it was more likely he would serve less than that, a guilty verdict would almost surely spell the end of his racing career. But as it turned out the jury acquitted him on all but one charge and that one was thrown out due to a hung jury. Helio would race again.
And race again he did. He arrived at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a renewed enthusiasm and a new outlook on life. He qualified his Roger Penske Racing Honda powered Delara on the pole. And things just got better from there.
During the race he took his time and didn’t try to lead every lap. He took care of his equipment, drove a smart race, and waited until the later stages when the crew made the right adjustments, and Castroneves took his car to the front.
Once out front there was no holding him back. He charged away from his nearest pursuers Dan Wheldon and Danica Patrick, leading the final 59 laps and finishing nearly two seconds ahead of Wheldon. Almost lost in the drama of Castroneves’ win was the fact that it was also team owner Roger Penske’s record 15th win in the Memorial Day classic.
In winning the 2009
”What a day. This place is magical. This is the best Month of May ever. Three; I can’t believe it.”
In other racing, Jenson Button won the Monaco Grand Prix. It was his fifth victory in the six races run so far this season.
David Reutimann was credited with the win in the rain delayed and rain shortened Coca Cola 600 at Lowes Motor Speedway.