"I got this."
That's what Helio Castroneves was thinking as he sat back waiting to make the move that would claim his record-tying fourth Indy 500 win.
"I felt very much in control, I knew what my car was capable of doing, and I was just stalking, I guess, to make sure I had the right time to make it happen," Castroneves said during an appearance on The Fox Garage.
The Brazilian ran near the front most of the race and passed Spaniard Alex Palou for the final time entering the penultimate lap and never looked back as he drove into the history books, joining A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears as a four-time champion of The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
Incredibly, it was Castroneves’ first race for Meyer Shank Racing, a small team with a fraction of the resources of big-name outfits like Team Penske, Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti Autosport.
"It’s all about passion, and hard work, dedication," Castroneves said of the effort.
"We might not have had the biggest budget, but we definitely had the biggest heart."
A little skill didn’t hurt, either. The 46-year-old Castroneves is competing part-time this year, and the only other top-tier race he’d been in prior to Indy was the 24 Hours of Daytona, which he also won.
"I guess … hard work paid off, so that’s proof for everyone out there, you gotta believe in yourself," he said. "Good things happen to good guys, but it happens when you work hard."
Castroneves is the only person to have won both marquee races in the same year, beating some elite drivers less than half his age in both events.
Known as Spider-Man for climbing the catch fence to celebrate his victories with the fans, the 2007 "Dancing With the Stars" champion said he maintains a focused regime with a trainer to stay physically and mentally fit.
"I still [train] very hard. I don’t train intense like I used to, but I train smart, and that’s the way you should be."
And he won’t be giving it up anytime soon. He still has at least five IndyCar races to run this weekend, and if given the opportunity said he will "absolutely" be back in Indianapolis looking to become the first five-time winner next year.
"The sky’s the limit and I still dream of big things to happen."