Indianapolis, Indiana - Australian Will Power filled the one hole in his resume by winning the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday while Danica Patrick's ground-breaking career and Helio Castroneves's shot at Brickyard history both came to a crashing end.
An IndyCar series champion and four times runner-up, Power delivered a cool, calculated drive on a sizzling hot day to reach Victory Lane and give owner Roger Penske his 17th Indy 500 success.
The first Australian to reach Victory Lane at Indy 500 Powers win capped a monumental day for Australian motorsport with Daniel Ricciardo triumphing on the other side of the Atlantic at the Monaco Grand Prix for a sweep of what are arguably the world's two most prestigious races.
"Unbelievable to be the first Australian to win the 500; maybe they will recognize me down there now," smiled Power. "I don't think people know who I am down there."
Power, who started on the front row, was on the charge after the final caution, coming home ahead of polesitter Ed Carpenter and 2008 winner Scott Dixon of New Zealand.
Patrick, the only woman to win an IndyCar race, had looked to pen a fairytale finish to her career by adding a second victory but could not even make it to the checkered flag, instead slamming nose first into the wall midway through the 200-lap race.
It was the same disappointing end for three-time Brickyard champion Castroneves as he once again failed to capture a record-equalling fourth win in what might have also been his last Indy 500.
The victory capped a perfect month of May for the man from Toowoomba as Power tuned up for the Indy 500 by notching up his 33rd career win with a victory in the Indianapolis Grand Prix run on the Speedway's road circuit.
Starting on the outside of Row One alongside Carpenter and team mate Simon Pagenaud, Power steered well clear of trouble through seven cautions and then pounced when he had his chance in the final laps.
"Can't believe I came all the way from Toowoomba to be a professional driver and I never expected to be here," screamed Power. "I had a great month. I just can't believe it.
"I was wondering if I would ever win it. My career, I’ve had so many wins, so many poles but everyone always talks about the 500 and I just couldn't imagine winning a race in front of a crowd like this."
Castroneves, who has moved over to race sports cars for Penske and no longer competes on the IndyCar series, has also made his name at the Brickyard with trips to Victory Lane in 2001, 2002 and 2009.
In more than a century of racing at the famed speedway only three men - A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears - have finished the 500 on Victory Lane four times and Sunday's race may have been Castroneves's last shot at joining them.
Penske had said earlier that he would bring Castroneves back for a shot at a record-smashing fifth Indy 500 if the 43-year-old could get his fourth but now his Indy future is in question.
"Please Roger I've got to come back," pleaded Castroneves soon after he climbed out of his wreck.
The 'Danica Double' (crash)
Danica Patrick's racing career came to a crashing end on Sunday when her car slammed nose first into a wall before the midway point of Indianapolis 500.
Patrick, the only woman to win an IndyCar race and start from pole at the Daytona 500, lost control on lap 68 of the 200-lap race, hitting the wall coming out of corner two then spinning across the track before coming to rest.
The 36-year-old American climbed out of the car and appeared uninjured. She was examined at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway medical centre and released.
"First thing I said was that I’m not really sure what happened," said Patrick. “It just seemed to come around and seemed pretty late off the corner.
“They said they looked back at the data and it was kind of a little lift in the middle, a little bit of understeer and then back to it and it just swung."
Patrick, who announced in November 2017 that she would retire with the "Danica Double" contesting America's two biggest races the Daytona and Indy 500s, saw both end the same way -- in crashes.
After qualifying seventh, the Indy 500 had promised the possibility of something special.
During a 14-year career, evenly split between IndyCar and Nascar, it was the Indy 500 that provided most of the material for Patrick's career highlight reel and made her one of North America's most recognizable athletes.
Her third-place finish in 2009 remains the best-ever result by a woman in the Indy 500 while her resume also includes a fourth in 2005 (her rookie debut) and sixth in 2006.
Before leaving the Brickyard that had been the stage for many of her career highlights, Patrick fulfilled one final obligation, sucking up her disappointment for a meeting with the media she so often had a love-hate relationship with.
“Yeah, It's an entire career. But what really launched it was this," said Patrick. "It's both of them. I've had a lot of good fortune here and did still have some this month. It just didn't come on race day but we had some good moments."
"Definitely not a great ending," said Patrick. "Today was a tough day."
'Never back down'
Feisty and competitive, Patrick rarely backed down from anyone during a ground-breaking career
While there was plenty of disappointment in Patrick's words there was not a hint of regret, having been steadfast in the buildup to Sunday's race she would not get behind the wheel again and had no interest in being involved as an owner or mentor to young racers.
Instead, as one of the most marketable athletes in North America Patrick has been able to turn her fame into businesses ranging from wine to a clothing line, opportunities that she said would keep her busy.
"Whenever you talk about retiring to someone they are like what are you going to do next," Patrick said before the race. "Most people don't have anything when they retire and have to figure it out after.
"I have plenty of things to keep me busy and that's just what is happening currently and doesn't include what I want to do."
Patrick may not miss racing but the motorsport world would miss her, motor racing great Mario Andretti told Reuters.
"She's been an asset for the sport and probably inspired many," Andretti said. "She's been a great ambassador for the sport in general.
"The sport will miss her for sure. I have the highest respect for her ... she didn't leave anything on the table.
"It's a tough world to carve out your niche and she did that."Reuters