“Spider-Man is back at the Speedway!” – Leigh Diffey
“Tom Brady won a Super Bowl, Phil (Mickelson) won The PGA…the old guys still got it, kicking the young guys’ butts, teaching them a lesson.” – Helio Castroneves on His Record-Tying Fourth Indy 500 Victory
“The youngsters were playing checkers today and Helio was playing chess.” – Paul Tracy
“This is his everything. It’s his Christmas, his New Year’s, and even his Halloween when he gets to play Spider-Man and climb the fence.” – Townsend Bell
“The headline this year — simple — the fans, they are back! 135,000 strong, the largest post-pandemic sporting event anywhere in the world.” – Mike Tirico
STAMFORD, Conn. – May 30, 2021 – NBC Sports presented exclusive coverage of the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 this afternoon on NBC from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as Helio Castroneves won “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” for a record-tying fourth time in his career, outdueling Alex Palou and 2019 Indianapolis 500 champion Simon Pagenaud, who rounded out the podium.
NBC Sports’ lead INDYCAR commentary team of Leigh Diffey (play-by-play) and analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy called NBC Sports’ broadcast of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” on NBC, alongside pit reporters Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast, Dave Burns and Kevin Lee.
NBC Sports host Mike Tirico anchored coverage alongside analyst and former INDYCAR driver Danica Patrick. INDYCAR rookie and seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and NBC Sports’ Steve Letarte served as Peacock Pit Box analysts. NBC Sports’ Rutledge Wood also contributed to the network’s Indy 500 presentation by reporting on-site at IMS, while Jac Collinsworth served as host of pre-race coverage on NBCSN.
Castroneves to Snider on his record-tying fourth Indy 500 victory: “It’s not the end, it’s the beginning…I don’t know if it’s a good comparison, but Tom Brady won a Super Bowl, Phil (Mickelson) won The PGA and now here you go. The old guys still got it, kicking the young guys’ butts, teaching them a lesson.”
Castroneves to Snider: “This stage is absolutely incredible. I love Indianapolis. The fans, they give me energy!”
Castroneves: “I only did two races this year and I won two. I think I still got it, don’t you think?”
Diffey on the celebration: “This might be the longest post-race celebration in Indy 500 history. But you know what, it should be. He’s part of the four-time winners’ club.”
Bell: “This guy has been in the sport for so long and when you’re in the sport that long, you’ve worked with so many people and accepted help from so many people that are a part of the sport. He’s a fan favorite and he’s a sport favorite — even on competing teams, people at the track, sponsors that he used to work with, everyone is going to embrace the newly-minted four-time champ. He can take as long as he wants (to celebrate). He’s earned it.”
Tracy: “There’s no doubt now that you go for the ‘Drive for Five,’ right?”
Bell: “Oh yeah. This guy will be doing this — I think we’ll be seeing him into his 50s. He’s lost none of the enthusiasm. He has all of the ability and this great team behind him now — and the fans have always loved Helio Castroneves.”
Bell on Mario Andretti kissing Castroneves on the head: “He just got blessed by the Grandmaster.”
Patrick: “Helio is the kind of guy that you want to be around. He is always that happy, he’s always that friendly — he climbs the fence and everyone just gathers around! You can see how much everyone loves him on pit road. I welled up (watching him celebrate), I could probably choke up right now.”
Tracy: “The youngsters were playing checkers today and Helio was playing chess.”
Tracy on Castroneves returning to a full-time INDYCAR ride: “Guarantee you he wants to be in the car full-time. He deserves to be in the car full-time…he didn’t have an opportunity when he got let go by Penske out of the INDYCAR program…it was just a fizzled-out ending. Now he can write his own ticket.”
Diffey on Castroneves: “They say enthusiasm and passion always win out. You’re seeing it right now.”
Diffey on Castrnoneves’ victory: “Welcome to the four-time club, Helio Castroneves. Spider-Man is back at the Speedway!”
Patrick on racing strategy at the Indy 500: “In Indy, as I’ve experienced and said, there are so many strategies that can play out. Whether you are Penske, starting in the back and looking for someone to make it happen or whether you’re a driver in an accident that puts you to the back of the field, now you’re looking to see ‘how can I transition this into an alternative strategy that honestly has a great chance of winning?’”
Patrick on fuel strategy around lap 100: “Laps have been fairly slow – 212, 213 mph. From the leader back, everyone knows how important it is to save fuel.”
Bell on Graham Rahal’s accident on lap 119: “Graham cannot believe what happened. He had the car and position, they saved the fuel — just an absolute gut-punch in the biggest race in the world.”
Bell on Scott Dixon’s car stalling on pit road on lap 36: “The most painful sight in pit lane is what we just saw. The pace car and field lapping Scott Dixon — disaster for the 9 (car).”
Tracy on Stefan Wilson pitstop wreck on lap 32: “As these cars come down from speed (onto pit lane), there’s virtually no downforce at 100 miles-per-hour, you hit the brakes, you downshift and it locks the rears up and immediately turned him sideways.”
Tracy on Helio Castroneves: “I almost look at Helio Castroneves as the Tom Brady of Motorsports. He’s timeless, he knows how to win and get the job done…at Team Penske, they put him out to pasture earlier than he wanted…he wasn’t ready to leave. They pushed him off for a young guy.”
Bell: “He’s an ageless wonder…in my book, Helio Castroneves is still a kid. This is his everything here. It’s his Christmas, his New Year’s, and even his Halloween, when he gets to play Spider-Man and climb the fence when he wins.”
Tirico on the atmosphere at IMS with fans: “The headline this year — simple — the fans, they are back! 135,000 strong, the largest post-pandemic sporting event anywhere in the world.”
Collinsworth on his first Indy 500 experience: “I’ve never been to a sporting event that’s as connected to one community. The roots run deep here…everyone can’t wait to tell you their favorite Indy 500 story.”
Patrick on the impact of Paretta Autosport: “There might be a girl in the stands, watching at home, see Beth (Paretta) as an owner, Simona (De Silvestro) as a driver, these women going over the wall with their braids, and that might be them someday. That’s why this is such an important and inspirational story.”
Pre-race coverage included:
- NBC Sports analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s sit-down interview with Marco Andretti, who competed in his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES race this season in the Indy 500;
- NBC Sports’ Tim Layden narrated an essay on the Wheldon family – Susie Wheldon and sons, Sebastian and Oliver, who are developmental drivers for the Andretti Autosport team – remembering their husband and father Dan Wheldon, who tragically passed away in a racing accident 10 years ago after winning the Indy 500 in 2011;
- Feature on Paretta Autosport, a racing team that is 75% female, including its owner, Beth Paretta, and driver, Simona De Silvestro, who became the first female driver-owner duo to qualify for the Indy 500;
- NBC Sports’ Rutledge Wood speaking with David Letterman, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, whose team won the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 with Takuma Sato;
- An introduction to select Indy 500 fans who have a special bond and connection to the Greatest Spectacle in Racing and what the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 means personally to them in Faces of the 500 segments;
- Reports from Rutledge Wood and Jac Collinsworth around IMS, taking in the sights and sounds from the approximately 135,000 spectators who will be in attendance.
This Is Us actor Milo Ventimiglia served as honorary starter and waved the green flag, while country music star Jimmie Allenperformed the National Anthem ahead of the race.