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What Tom Brady and Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves have in common

Castroneves compared himself to Brady after his historic win Sunday. They’re two older guys beating hotshots with new teams.
Tom Brady, the Bucs star quarterback, has a lot in common with four-time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves.
Tom Brady, the Bucs star quarterback, has a lot in common with four-time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Jun. 1
Updated Jun. 1

Not long after 46-year-old Helio Castroneves scaled the fence Sunday to celebrate his historic Indianapolis 500 triumph, he made a comparison that resonated across Tampa Bay.

“I don’t know if this is a good comparison,” Castroneves said, “but Tom Brady won the Super Bowl and Phil Mickelson won the golf so here you go. The older guys are still kicking the younger guys’ butts.”

I’ll help you out, Helio. The Brady comparison is indeed a good one.

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Castroneves had driven in one of North America’s top open-wheel series earlier, but his first real success came when he joined the Team Penske powerhouse in 2000. They had a remarkable run of success together, starting with an Indy 500 win in 2001. The accomplishments: three total Indy 500 victories, 30 total wins (including three at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg) and four series runner-up finishes.

Helio Castroneves had a tremendous amount of success driving for team owner Roger Penske, including three wins at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Helio Castroneves had a tremendous amount of success driving for team owner Roger Penske, including three wins at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. [ SANTANA, LUIS | Times (2013) ]

Brady had success at Michigan but became a legend with Bill Belichick and the Patriots, once they drafted him in 2000. They, too, had a remarkable run of success together, starting with a Super Bowl win to cap off the 2001 season. The accomplishments: six Super Bowl victories and three MVP awards, among others.

Then came the splits. Castroneves lost his full-time IndyCar ride with Penske in 2018 but kept racing with the team at the Indy 500 until this year. He believed he could still compete at a high level, so he joined a younger team with zero IndyCar wins (Meyer Shank Racing) and led them to the pinnacle of North American open-wheel racing in 2021. By beating a 20-something hotshot (Alex Palou), Castroneves made history for himself as the fourth driver ever to win four Indy 500s.

Tom Brady got to celebrate another championship by helping the Bucs win Super Bowl 55.
Tom Brady got to celebrate another championship by helping the Bucs win Super Bowl 55. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Brady believed he could still compete at a high level, too, so he left the Patriots to join a younger franchise with the lowest winning percentage in NFL history and led the Bucs to the pinnacle of North American team sports, a Super Bowl 55 triumph at Raymond James Stadium in 2021. By beating a 20-something hotshot (Patrick Mahomes), Brady made history for himself as the NFL’s only seven-time Super Bowl champion.

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Two older guys who left elite teams and kicked young guys’ butts with their new squad. Sounds like a good comparison to me.