By Steve Keating
INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - Helio Castroneves had his bid for a record-equaling fourth Indianapolis 500 win torpedoed by Ryan Hunter-Reay on Sunday but the Brazilian warned the "Yellow Submarine" would rise again.
Driving a car painted in the retro yellow livery made famous by retired drivers Rick Mears and Johnny Rutherford, Castroneves looked poised to add to the legacy of the "Yellow Submarine" which has won three 500s for team owner Roger Penske.
With Mears acting as his spotter and wearing a yellow crash helmet made famous by the American, Castroneves looked poised to claim a fourth Indy win until Hunter-Reay powered past him at the start of the final lap and won a dramatic drag race to the finish, crossing less than a car length apart.
"So close to win four," Castroneves told reporters. "Right now, at this point, I feel that the team, myself, the entire group is eager to make it happen and win another.
"At this point it just give me more fuel to come back here and make it happen."
The crushing loss was one of the few times the charismatic Brazilian has known such heartbreak at the Brickyard having won back-to-back 500s in 2001 and 2002 then returning to Victory Lane a third time in 2009.
A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Mears, the three giants of American motorsport, are the only members of the Brickyard's most exclusive club reserved for four-time winners of the 500.
But it is also an aging group that has not welcomed a new member since Mears claimed his fourth win in 1991, and with three-time winner Dario Franchitti forced into retirement last season because of bad crash Castroneves is the only driver pledging for a spot in the fraternity.
While Castroneves was gracious in defeat, the pain of coming so close to achieving the milestone was hard to hide.
"Second place kind of sucks but taking the positive out of this, it was a great race," said Castroneves. "Ryan Hunter-Reay, great race.
"I think both of us used every inch of the track -- I mean, at the end of the day there is stupid and then there's bravery. I think we're right there on the edge, both of us, really trying.
"I'm glad we both come out in a good way. I'm sad it did not come out the way I wanted."
(Editing by Frank Pingue)