“In 3 and 4 it's better, but in 1 and 2 there's a lot of understeer,” he says.
Cindric responds. “We're thinking more wing might help.”
Castroneves finally addresses the stall. “I don't believe it,” he says. “I don't believe it.”
Cindric is quick to respond. “We don't quit. We don't quit.”
The team pits again on lap 151, topping off and adding wing. As he leaves, Cindric tells Castroneves to conserve. “Save me some fuel,” he says. “Take care of those tires.”
A lap later, still idling under yellow while clean-up continues from Briscoe's crash, Castroneves comes on the radio. “Somebody want to tell me what the plan is here?” he says, sounding irritated.
“I'm working on it, dude,” Cindric responds. “I'm working on it.”
Three laps later, still under caution, Cindric orders Castroneves to the pits again. “Catch up to the field,” Cindric says as Castroneves burns out.
The race resumes with Castroneves far behind, but, with a full tank, he'll be able to stay out longer than the leaders. On lap 160, Sebastian Saavedra crashes. “Stay out there,” Cindric says. “Save some fuel.”
As the cars tiptoe around Saavedra's crash damage in the chute between Turns 1 and 2, spotter Rick Rinaman comes on the frequency. “Stay right, Helio,” he says.
Castroneves responds. “Why do I do that?”
“There's a piece of carbon down there,” the spotter says.
Cindric comes on. “Just do what you can to save your tires,” he says.
The plan works, as Castroneves eventually finds himself back up to third again, but he won't make it to the end of the race without a long caution period. During another caution, Castroneves' voice can be heard. “Yo, what's the plan, man?” Cindric answers: “I'll tell you on the front straight.”
When the No. 3 car comes around again, Cindric lays it out. They need two more yellows, or possibly one very long yellow, to make it to the end without refueling. They're third right now, with Franchitti in fifth. “Save fuel under green and hopefully keep your track position,” Cindric says.
Castroneves responds: “Do not use overtake, is that correct?”
Cindric: “Not right now. Not right now.”
After a few minutes of silence, Cindric comes back on. “Stay in front of Franchitti no matter what,” he says. “If he gets close, use your overtake. Use your overtake on the start if he gets close. Otherwise, don't use it.”
Then, in response to an unusual number of black flags for blocking during the race, Cindric says, “Make sure we don't block. Make sure we don't block.”
The strategy never plays out, as Castroneves is forced to pit for fuel in the waning laps and eventually settles for a ninth-place finish. Mike Conway's frightening crash happens directly in front of Castroneves, and he has to take an evasive left-right pull on the wheel to miss flying debris. It could have been a podium finish, but ninth in the Indy 500 isn't complete disaster. He's still in the middle of the championship – fourth now, just 28 points behind Power, still the leader – but, as Castroneves rolls to a stop in the pit, he's upset with himself for the stall.
“I'm so sorry, guys,” he tells his crew members over the radio. “That was just terrible.”
As he unbuckles, the men in black slap their driver on the back and offer hugs of condolence.
Cindric comes back on the radio. “We're a team, Helio. We're a team.”