At the age of 44, the National Football League’s “GOAT” of a quarterback, Tom Brady, may be retiring (at least that’s being widely reported), but at age 46, Helio Castroneves isn’t slowing down. The 4-time Indianapolis 500 race winner — including the 2021 running — was part of the winning team for the second year in a row this weekend at the Rolex 24 at Daytona sports car endurance race.
“It sounds cliche, but it’s all about believing,” Castroneves said after his final stint in the winning Meyer Shank Racing DragonSpeed USA Oreca-Acura LMP2 race car, which he and teammates Tom Blomqvist, Oliver Jarvis and Simon Pagenaud drove to victory from a 5-lap deficit.
“I believe in them, they believe in me,” Castroneves continues. “This is exactly what is happening with this group here. With Simon, with Tom and with Oliver – we all believed that we could do it.”
Down the stretch, Castroneves battled with the Wayne Taylor Racing Acura driven by Rick Taylor, reached the finish line 3 seconds ahead, and stopped to climb the catch fence, just as he has done at Indy.
“That was absolutely incredible,” the Brazilian native added. “I’m so happy for the entire group. Everyone did their job. At the end, I said, ‘Put me in, Coach.’ It was great.”
The victory ended Taylor Racing’s bid for a fourth consecutive Daytona 24 victory: Castroneves drove for the Taylor team in its Daytona race a year ago.
“It’s priceless,” Castroneves was quoted on the IMSA website. “In my case, I’m still very passionate about it and learning every day… and improving my driving skills. That’s what makes me a better driver. That’s why I enjoy it. That’s why when I go out there, I push as hard as I can.”
Also pushing hard was Blomqvist, who had battled back and forth with Taylor before handing the car off to Castroneves.
“I was speechless after the race,” Blomqvist said. “I’ve dreamt of it. Did I believe? Yes. But you never know. It’s 24 hours of relentless racing.”
The race marked the 60th year for sports car racing at Daytona International Speedway. Sixty-one cars started the race.