WATCH: Relive Helio Castroneves’ Indy 500 championship celebration with fans

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INDIANAPOLIS — Spontaneity has made Helio Castroneves one of the NTT IndyCar Series’ most appealing stars, and it was a key to the championship celebration of his record-tying fourth Indy 500 victory Sunday.

“Look, I don’t know what I was doing to be honest,” Castroneves said of his mad dash down the frontstretch after his signature climb (watch in the video above or by clicking here). ” I was drawn by the positive energy of everyone. For a long time, these people want to see a four-time winner. I say that because they tell me. Every time we sign the autographs, they are like, ‘I’ve never seen a four-time winner. I want to see it.

“That’s what probably made me thank all of them because they made this place special. I can’t deny that without that I wouldn’t be able to be who I am. I’m thankful for them to be here. This is great. I don’t even know my action. I was just so happy.”

The Brazilian, who also won the Indy 500 in 2001, ’02 and ’09, joined Rick Mears, Al Unser and A.J. Foyt as the only four-time winners of the Indy 500, which held its 105th edition Sunday before a crowd announced as 135,000 (the largest sporting event of the pandemic era after the 2020 race was held without fans).

Castroneves’ victory celebration was among the most memorable in Indy 500 or motorsports history with echoes of Dale Earnhardt’s 1998 Daytona 500 win.

Indy Helio Castroneves celebration
Helio Castroneves is congratulated by Takuma Sato after winning the 105th Indy 500 (Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).

Like the seven-time NASCAR Cup champion, Castroneves also was congratulated by the entire garage, including former teammates (Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Juan Pablo Montoya), fellow IndyCar drivers (two-time Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato, Marco Andretti) and legends (such as Mario Andretti and Johnny Rutherford.

While taking a victory lap in the back seat of a Camaro convertible around the 2.5-mile track, Castroneves watched as hundreds climbed the fence in salute.

It was very emotional,” he said. “That was so incredible. Every turn you’re seeing everyone with my shirt.”

Said team owner Mike Shank: I got to see the history-in-the-making type of thing. I saw a thousand people climbing the fence all around the track. It was just so cool to be a part of.

“I got to see the people’s reaction to Helio, which I think will go down in the history books. The way they treat him, revere him. I think it would be really cool from him to get a fifth (Indy 500) and us to be a part of that.”

Watch Sunday’s Indy 500 celebration in the video above or by clicking here.

Indy Helio Castroneves celebration
Helio Castroneves celebrates with partner Adriana Henao and daughter Mikaella after kissing the bricks Sunday (Mykal McEldowney/Indy Star/USAT Sports Images).
Indy Helio Castroneves celebration
Fans climbed the fence as Helio Castroneves went past in a Camaro Convertible (Lukas Flippo/IndyStar/USA TODAY Sports Images).

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
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ANAHEIM, California – Ken Roczen will make the move from HRC Honda to H.E.P. Motorsports with the Progressive Ecstar Suzuki team, ending a long and eventful offseason that saw his split from his longstanding team after he committed to running World Supercross (WSX).

“H.E.P. Motorsports is thrilled to announce that the team has signed Ken Roczen as its premier rider for the 2023 season,” the team announced on Instagram. “Former AMA Motocross champion Roczen will be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. Roczen, who won his most recent championship on a Suzuki, will be reunited with the brand and bring his exciting style, determination, and grit back to the RM Army.

“Ken Roczen will compete in the upcoming 2023 Supercross and Motocross Championship series which is set to start on January 7 at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California.”

For Roczen, it is a return to the bike of his youth and on which he had some of his greatest professional success.

“This thing has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks in the making, but there was so much uncertainty,” Roczen told NBC Sports during Monster Energy Supercross Media Sessions. “It was a very unique situation. I just finally signed two nights ago, so it’s really only legit once the ink hits the paper. It’s been in the works for a long time, but there were just a lot of questions and a lot of input from a lot of other teams too.

“Good things take time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up riding Suzuki. Ot’s like a homecoming. It’s a special feeling”

Roczen won the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on a Suzuki before making the move to Honda. That year he won nine of 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second as he easily outpaced Eli Tomac by 86 points. He finished third in his next Pro Motocross outing in 2018 after sitting out the outdoor season in 2017.

“I am beyond excited to reconnect with Suzuki for the 3rd time in my career. We’ve had a lot of success in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in our future.” Roczen said in the Instagram post.