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IMS Writers’ Roundtable, Vol. 21: The Next Four-Time Winner?

Today’s question: Now that Helio Castroneves has become the fourth four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, who will become the next member of this exclusive club?

Curt Cavin: As I’ve been saying, I think it’s Takuma Sato. He didn’t have the best of months this year, but he has already banked two Indy wins and has shown win-worthy in two others. Yes, he’s 44, but his experience, fitness and competitiveness suggest he could have four or five more “500” starts in his future. Heck, he could be the next 50-year-old driver at IMS.

Zach Horrall: I believe our next four-time winner hasn’t even won the race once: Rinus VeeKay. It’s been 30 years since Rick Mears joined the club, and it’s something Helio Castroneves had to chase for 20 before making it a reality. So, I don’t think we’re going to see another four-time winner any time soon, but when we do, it’ll be VeeKay. He has adapted to this racetrack immediately and has shown incredible speed and charisma in his first two starts. Last year, he started fourth and finished 20th after issues on pit lane. This year went as expected, qualifying third and racing up front before finishing eighth. He’s seriously contending for the win at age 20, and he has two of the best voices offering him guidance: Arie Luyendyk and Ed Carpenter. Give him 20 years like Castroneves, and I think VeeKay gets four.

Paul Kelly: Honestly, I’m not sure anyone will reach four among the current crop of drivers. There is so much parity and depth in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES that it will be tough for one driver or team to dominate at the Speedway. So, the next four-time “500” winner might be someone we’ve never seen race an INDYCAR SERIES car. Maybe one of Dan Wheldon’s or Ryan Hunter-Reay’s sons? That would be cool. But to cover the bases and straddle the fence, Pato O’Ward is my pick among the current lineup. He just turned 22. He has finished sixth and fourth in his first two “500” starts. He’s so talented and charismatic that it’s almost a lock he’ll be in top equipment for his career. Sounds a lot like another effervescent guy we know and love – Helio Castroneves.

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