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IndyCar Indy 500

Kanaan, Castroneves battled over 15th in Indy 500 like it was “for the win”

Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves beat his retiring rival Tony Kanaan to 15th place at the final restart on Sunday, with Kanaan claiming it was like “for the win”.

Tony Kanaan, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Kanaan called time on his open-wheel racing career with his 390th start, and the 2004 IndyCar champion and 2013 Indy 500 winner retires with a total of 17 wins at the premier level in America, having also become a people’s champion.

The two Brazilians, who were friends since childhood, found themselves racing for 15th position and relived the experience on Monday night’s Indy 500 Victory Celebration banquet.

“It’s my last race, and with two laps to go, I’m 15th and I thought ‘alright, let’s try a TK restart’ and I asked who was behind me,” said Kanaan. “I hear ‘Helio’. I’m like ‘no, that can’t be right man, we’re not going to do this now’…”

Turning to the audience, he said to Indy 500 victory Josef Newgarden: “Josef, the way you raced [Marcus] Ericsson for the win, we raced for 15th! And with no mercy.

“I’m like ‘waaaaah, he might let me do it this time?’ No! He passed me on the restart and blocked me into Turn 3.”

Tony Kanaan, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet Driver's Meeting

Tony Kanaan, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet Driver's Meeting

Photo by: Brett Farmer / Motorsport Images

They finished just 0.2527s apart at the checkered flag.

Helio added: “That was very special by the way, amazing. We started together, and then suddenly we were together again at the end on the last lap.

“We’ve talked about our pact when we were kids, that whoever made it, the other would carry their helmet bag. So Tony’s going to carry my helmet next year! I’ll pay him the minimum wage!

“But it was very special, saluting Tony on the in-lap, it was like old times in go-kart day. Not only a great friend, an incredible competitor, an incredible person.”

Kanaan also made a bet with Castroneves over their respective haircuts.

Kanaan said: “I have one request, now that I am retiring, could you stop dyeing your hair? Look at Roger [Penske], he looks awesome.”

Helio: “I think I look awesome too. OK, so I’ll stop dyeing my hair if you let your ’fro grow.”

TK: “People think that I’m bald. I’m not bald, I just have bad hair. OK, deal, last race is Laguna, I’m not going to shave my hair and you’re going to stop dyeing yours, deal?”

After they shook on it, Castroneves turned to the crowd, shook his head and mouthed “No I’m not”.

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