On Saturday we asked you in a poll if you care about the Indianapolis 500. The number one response with 40% of the vote was, "I never cared in the first place." Well, at least one of us here at Autoblog cared enough to watch the race on TV yesterday, but that couldn't stop long stretches of napping from eating up up dozens of laps at a time. A few interesting things happened while I was awake, including perennial Indy bridesmaid Tony Kannan crashing at the Brickyard for the third time in eight appearances. I was also awoken late in the race by another crash, this time between Vitor Meira and rookie Raphael Matos. The two collided on Turn 1 and Meira's car ended up sliding along the wall on its side. We later learned the veteran driver had broken two vertebrae in his back, while Matos escaped with just a bruised knee. This isn't NASCAR, though, and we're not supposed to watch for the crashes, so I downed some caffeine after that to stay alert until the race's conclusion. Read on after the jump to find out who won this year's running of the 2009 Indianapolis 500.
Not surprisingly but particularly gratifying, your 2009 Indy 500 winner is Helio Castroneves. It's not a surprise because Castroneves is generally considered to be one of today's top racers in the world, which he proved at Indy by not only securing pole position in qualifying, but also through his crew winning the pit stop competition. Clearly this Penske team had the skills to win.
But the victory is also gratifying for a man who nearly lost everything after being in court the last six months to stand trial on charges of federal tax evasion, of which he was acquitted on April 17th. All that's behind him now, and Castroneves' future is brighter than he could've imagined a few months ago after winning the "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" for the third time in his career. He joins eight other drivers in the three-peat club, but he's the only foreign-born driver of the bunch.
Perhaps the only more amazing outcome for the race would have been a win by Indy starlet Danica Patrick. Alas, it was not to be, though Patrick did finish third behind Dan Wheldon, which beat her previous best finish of fourth back in her rookie season of 2005.
The Indy Racing League moves on next week to the ABC Supply/AJ Foyt 225 at The Milwaukee Mile with Dario Franchitti leading Helio Castroneves by 122 to 117 points in the leader standings.