Castroneves Is Thriving in Late Career Push With Third Straight Rolex 24 at Daytona Win
The Brazilian driver dreams big and risks big, and a third-consecutive Rolex and fourth Indy 500 victory proves his bets usually pay off.
We often look to bright young minds to accomplish the best of everything—especially in sports—but witnessing an athlete enter their prime at nearly 50 years old is odd. I'd argue that soon-to-be 48-year-old Helio Castroneves is enjoying the most prosperous time of his long racing career, and it isn't looking like he's quitting any time soon.
The charming Brazilian climbed to the top step of the podium at this past weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona after securing his third victory in as many years. He's officially the only driver in the race's 61-year history to win three consecutive times.
"I just want to achieve my goals," Castroneves told The Drive briefly before the race. "Defending the race is crucial, and going for three in a row is a big dream of mine."
Castroneves has a habit of speaking his dreams into existence. Last year, also before the start of the 2022 race, he told me that he enjoys "dreaming big" and mentioned that a "second win at Daytona and a fourth Indy 500" were his goals. He's now accomplished both of those objectives. This year, he fulfilled his dream of making it three in a row.
One would think that at his age, and with an incredibly busy schedule in IndyCar and IMSA (and a family), Castroneves would be thinking about spending more time at home. Well, you'd be wrong.
"Every weekend that I'm not racing I feel sad," Castroneves said while laughing. "Nothing is comparable to racing but you know, I'm pushing as far as I can, as much as I can."
Like all endurance races, Daytona is known for being a grueling, complicated, and crash-filled race, but the all-new GTP/LMDh cars presented many unknown variables regarding reliability and outright performance. Despite the challenges, Castroneves, his teammates, Meyer Shank Racing, and Acura/HPD rose to the occasion.
"This car started as a blank piece of paper about two years ago," Dave Salters, president of Honda Performance Development told The Drive ahead of the Rolex 24. "To see it set the pole position was a dream come true, and to fight for the win is just as sweet. Surely great proof of the talented men and women of HPD."
Ohio-based Meyer Shank Racing is also relishing Sunday's victory—its second Rolex 24 win, also in back-to-back fashion. Its driver lineup of Castroneves, Tom Blomqvist, Simon Pagenaud, and Colin Braun has proven to be a powerful weapon against the competition.
"Since we got our hands on this car after Petit Le Mans last year, our guys have worked countless hours on this car," Mike Shank said after the race. "We had a few things pop up during the race, but we worked through it. The stand made great strategy calls, the crew had perfect pit stops and the drivers exceeded my expectations."
Going back to last year's interview with Castroneves again, he notably said he was "thinking about five Indy 500s." He'll get the chance to accomplish that dream come May, and y'know, he might just make it happen.
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