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'I'll be back' | Hélio makes plans to return for another run at 5th Indy 500 title

Hélio Castroneves isn't saying goodbye to Indy just yet and his fellow Brazilian, Tony Kanaan, wants to give the 500 another run, as well.

INDIANAPOLIS — This may not be the end of the road for two of the Indy 500's most popular drivers.

Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Hélio Castroneves said after Sunday's race he's ready to start preparing for the 107th Running of the Indy 500. 

"I can't wait. We're going to start working tomorrow. Gotta give a day off or maybe next day, but right away for next year, because this car is amazing," he told NBC following his seventh-place finish.

On Monday, Castroneves doubled down on his plan to return. 

"No question, I'll be back next year," he told 13News. "Hopefully with [Meyer Shank Racing]. They gave [me] my fourth win and I'd love to keep it going, so I'm for sure working on it."

The 47-year-old Brazilian raised some eyebrows after Sunday's race when he walked down pit lane, waving to the crowd as winner Marcus Ericsson rode down the backstretch on his victory lap. 

Some wondered if Hélio was saying goodbye.

"It was great to see everyone there," he said. "I was thanking them for all the 365 days we were the champion, you know, saluting them. Because that was a great memory, celebration last year so not because we didn't win doesn't mean that I [don't] still care about them."

Credit: Madison Stacey
IMS President Doug Boles and four-time Indy 500 winner Hélio Castroneves embrace after the 106th Running of the Indy 500. Castroneves finished seventh in Sunday's race.

Castroneves' countryman and fellow 47-year-old, Tony Kanaan, sounded a little more uncertain about his future plans on Sunday afternoon following his third-place finish.

“Of course, I told them, ‘Guys, I tried, I’m sorry, I did my best, thank you very much for everything,’" Kanaan said. “It was a little bit of a flashback, thinking maybe that was the last time I turned some laps around this place, as well. It was a mix of everything.”

By Monday night, he was a little more clear about his future.

"I want to come back. Hopefully, we will," Kanaan said to loud applause at the 500 Victory Celebration. "This place owes me nothing. Chip gave me an opportunity for two years with Jimmie [Johnson] that I could never imagine."

The two-year contract Kanaan signed with Chip Ganassi Racing to drive the ovals while Johnson took care of the road and street courses is over this year. Johnson, who won Rookie of the Year honors at the 500, is driving all five oval courses on the IndyCar schedule this year. 

Still, Kanaan remains hopeful that something gets worked out. 

"A lot of things have to happen, but I'm not done just yet," he said Monday night.

Credit: AP
Tony Kanaan, front, of Brazil, gets a hug from an engineer following the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Sunday, May 29, 2022, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Before the celebration Monday, Kanaan told 13News it wasn't just about being at Indy, but having a chance to compete.

"I am not going to just be back to participate in an Indy 500. That's very greedy for me to say, but that's my honest opinion. Hopefully, it will be with Chip, hopefully, it will be with the [American] Legion. We did an awesome job promoting the 'Be The One' campaign," he told reporter Rich Nye. "I'll be back if I'm in contention to win, otherwise I'll watch with you guys."

The 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for May 28 next year.

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