Brazil's Helio Castroneves wins fourth career Indianapolis 500

Washington (AFP) –

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Brazil's Helio Castroneves matched the all-time record by winning his fourth career Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, holding off Alex Palou over the final laps for the victory at age 46.

Castroneves -- who also won in 2001, 2002 and 2009 -- joined US legends AJ Foyt, Al Unser Sr and Rick Mears as four-time winners over 200 laps at the famed 2.5-mile (4km) Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.

The Indy 500 was the largest sports event held since the Covid-19 pandemic erupted early last year -- the venue had a sellout crowd of 135,000, a capacity that was nevertheless smaller than usual, a Covid precaution decided by local officials.

Castroneves passed Spain's Palou on the first turn of the penultimate lap, then held him off as he came upon slower cars on the final lap before taking the checkered flag to capture the fastest Indy 500 in history.

A tearful Castroneves continued his "Spider-Man" tradition by climbing the safety fence along the outside of the front straightaway as spectators roared with delight.

Palou was second with France's Simon Pagenaud third, edging Mexico's Pato O'Ward.