The 2009 Indianapolis 500

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Brazil's Hélio Castroneves looks to make history by becoming the first non-American to win the Indy 500 three times. In order to do it, he'll have to fend off stiff challenges from the likes of Townsend Bell, Dan Wheldon and Danica Patrick. Who will take the checkered flag at Indy racing's premier event?

2009 Seasons, 5 Episodes
May 18, 2009
The 2009 Indianapolis 500

The 2009 Indianapolis 500 Full Episode Guide

  • The 2009 Indy 500 from Indianapolis, Indiana. Helio Castreneves wins his 3rd Indy 500 title. Helio Castroneves of Brazil won the race from the pole position, becoming the first driver born outside the USA to win the race more than twice. Former winner Dan Wheldon of England came second, with Danica Patrick third and Townsend Bell fourth. There were eight crashes, with Vitor Meira and Tony Kanaan both suffering non-permanent injuries.

  • Sam Hornish Jr. wins by a hair. Dan Wheldon led most of the race, and appeared poised to win his second straight but in the closing laps a caution came out during final fuel stops, and the field was shuffled. With four laps to go, the racing resumed with Michael Andretti leading. Andretti had come out of retirement to race with his son Marco, who was running second. Sam Hornish, Jr., who suffered a pit stop mishap earlier, was third. With three laps to go, Marco overtook his father, and Hornish took second. With about a lap and a half remaining, Hornish tried to pass Marco, but was blocked and lost his momentum. Hornish made up ground on the final lap, and with about 500 feet to the finish line, pulled alongside Andretti and powered past to win the second closest Indy 500 ever, 0.0635 seconds.

  • A cold, windy day turns the race into a wreck-filled, marathon afternoon of racing with the pre-race pace lap crash by polesitter Roberto Guererro setting the pace for the event. This year also marked Ford's return to Indy racing, with the incredibly powerful Cosworth XB. This engine powered Michael Andretti to a one-lap lead of the entire field; but with just 11 laps remaining, the fuel pump failed and the Lola rolled to a stop. After a tense duel, Al Unser Jr. beats Scott Goodyear to the win by 0.043 seconds, the closest finish ever.

  • After a thrilling duel, Gordon Johncock beats 1979 winner Rick Mears to the win by 0.16 seconds. On Mears' final pit stop, he lost several seconds after he bumped into a backmarker. His crew proceeded to fill the entire tank, which gave him more than enough fuel to make it to the finish. Two laps later, Johncock made his stop, but his crew only filled the tank with enough fuel to make it to the finish. With less than 15 laps to go, trailing Johncock by more than eleven seconds, Mears' fully-fueled car was handling much better. He started closing in, more than a second per lap. With one lap to go, Mears pulled alongside, but Johncock refused to give up the lead, blocking Mears in the first turn, and holding on for the win. The outcome, for the next decade, will be the closest ever in race history.