Hunter-Reay's edges Castroneves in Indy 500

Hunter-Reay's edges Castroneves in Indy 500

25 May 2014 – Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay became the first American to win the Indianapolis 500 since 2006 on Sunday when he executed a dramatic last lap pass on Helio Castroneves, crossing the line 0.06s ahead in the second-closest finish in the event's 98-race history.

The two men had also traded blows with Hunter-Reay's team-mate Marco Andretti, with all three of them spending substantial time leading the race throughout the afternoon.

But heading into the final few laps, several failed overtaking attempts from Andretti meant that it would be Hunter-Reay and Castroneves left to contest IndyCar's oldest race. The two traded the lead in each of the last five laps, but Andretti would settle for yet another podium finish in the 500, extending the Andretti drought at the legendary speedway. Rookie Carlos Munoz, who nearly won last year's event, finished in fourth.

After running the first three quarters of the race caution-free, a frantic run to the finish was set up when the field was stopped under a red flag for repairs to the SAFER barriers with eight laps to go. Worried that his current P1 position would leave him a "sitting duck" on the restart, Hunter-Reay held on to win his first Indianapolis 500 whilst denying Castroneves his fourth.

The day began with much fanfare as a crowd of nearly a quarter of a million people streamed into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Countless former winners were on hand, and Jim Nabors sang "Back Home Again in Indiana" for the 34th and final time in his career.

At the start, James Hinchcliffe took the early lead into Turn 1 as the drivers settled into what would be the longest green flag stint to start a 500 in history. Hunter-Reay picked up seven spots in the first couple of laps, starting a charge that would see him climb all the way up from his starting spot of P19.

Also on a tare was Townsend Bell, quickly gaining 12 spots by using the exact same car setup as Tony Kanaan last year. The 2013 winner's setup combined with Bell's no-holds-barred racing style meant he would slice his way through the field, aided by a lack of cautions and restarts.

Ten laps in, pole-sitter Ed Carpenter overtook Hinchcliffe into turn 1, giving Carpenter the first of many turns throughout the day leading the pack. What started strongly for both men ended in tears as late race contact between the two of them and Bell sent Carpenter and Hinchcliffe spinning into the Turn 1 wall, again proving that this generation of IndyCars cannot go three-wide into Indy's first turn.

Bell's own race would be run with just ten laps to go. Running in a strong second place, it appeared that something broke on the car that sent him spearheading into the wall. The debris that would be strewn across the track prompted race director Beaux Barfield to throw the red flag with nine laps to go, attempting to subvert another Indy 500 ending under caution.

Before the late race drama, though, a third of the field had turns leading the race, with the loudest roars from the crowd coming whenever Andretti assumed P1. It was clear from the start that Andretti had a strong car, but he would need to overcome the fabled "Andretti Curse" if he hoped to stay in the race until the end, much less win it.  If he had succeeded, he would join his grandfather, Mario, who won the race in 1969.

With several rounds of green flag pit stops coming in the first 100 laps, the field had already begun to adopt different pit strategies, whether it be Scott Dixon pitting off sequence or Juan Pablo Montoya stretching his fuel runs and putting himself in prime position amongst the leaders. Dixon's strategy also pushed the team to take some downforce off the car late in the race, but this proved to be a contributing factor when he spun and crashed with 33 laps remaining.

Montoya's race would temporarily unravel when, after a 30-lap stint, the Colombian sped entering the pit lane, drawing a costly drive-through penalty. Despite this, when the red flag came out he had worked his way back to P5, which was where he would finish in his storied return to the IMS.

The first caution came out on Lap 149 when Charlie Kimball spun into the infield. Dixon's crash would bring out the next, but at this point the race had set the record for the fastest opening 100 laps in history. Simultaneously, Josef Newgarden came to rest in the infield after being punted by Martin Plowman, who hadn't slowed up when the caution came out. Plowman would continue the race while Newgarden would be done.

In the important final round of pit stops, Bell had jumped several cars to put himself into P3, but Hunter-Reay would have the lead in front of Carpenter with 25 laps to go. On the ensuing restart, Bell shot to the outside of Carpenter just as P5 James Hinchcliffe dove to the inside of the pole-sitter.  A brief glance off the side of Bell's KV Racing Technology car sent Carpenter into Hinchcliffe, collecting the latter two against the Turn 1 wall. A livid Carpenter put all the blame on latecomer Hinchcliffe---a notion the Canadian graciously accepted after being released from the infield care center.

As the dust cleared and the race went back to green with 20 to go, Andretti made his move into P2, beginning a revolving door of back-and-forth lead changes. Andretti took the lead only for Hunter-Reay to fight back the next lap. Suddenly Castroneves appeared from what was once a sizeable gap, easily dispatching of Bell and Andretti with his sights set on Hunter-Reay.

Four laps later, the three-time 500 winner would squeeze between the Andretti Autosport driver and the pit wall to take P1. Guaranteeing that an inside pass would not beat him, Castroneves made Hunter-Reay go outside into the first turn on the next lap, but the stability of the American's chassis handled it easily. The two would trade the lead in a similar matter several times over the next couple of laps, while every once in a while, Andretti would attempt to get by into P2. With each attempt came a necessity to get out of the throttle and downshift to avoid a crash, meaning Andretti would not be able to catch the leaders.

With nine laps to go, though, Bell's car suddenly shot sideways out of Turn 2, striking the wall and spraying carbon fiber across the track. The ensuing cleanup and SAFER barrier repairs meant that the red flag would stop the race a lap later, but the racing after the restart was exactly the same: With each lap there was a different leader, the top two trading spots over and over with the finish line mere miles away.

Helio was the first to strike on a restart, but Hunter-Reay took him into Turn 1 the next lap. With every successive spin around the track, the overtaking moves got bolder, but Castroneves held the lead with five miles remaining, again making Hunter-Reay go around the outside to pass him. With a lap to go, the 2012 champion accepted the challenge and made his move, building a big enough gap through the first two turns that it was nearly impossible for Helio to catch him.

Shooting down the frontstretch, Castroneves pulled to the outside but ran out of track, crossing the yard of bricks six hundredths of a second later. Gracious in defeat, Helio congratulated Hunter-Reay for a close battle and for joining the club of Indy 500 winners.

Andretti Autosport would also have reason to celebrate, finishing in first, third, fourth and sixth on the day. One of those cars, that of Kurt Busch, finished just outside the top five after a strong showing. Shortly after the chequered flag, though, he boarded a helicopter to take him to the airport.  From there he will fly to Charlotte, North Carolina, where he will compete in tonight's Coca-Cola 600 for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

A non-factor in today's race was defending race winner Tony Kanaan. After gaining a few positions on the start, Kanaan ran out of fuel on track, coasting into the pit lane. After servicing his car, the mechanical starter stripped the gear inside of Kanaan's gearbox, forcing lengthy repairs to the Chip Ganassi car, putting the Brazilian 18 laps down. He would finish in P26, a disappointing 23 laps down.

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Thursday 30 March 2017

  2. 17:02

    Follow GPUpdate on Instagram in 2017!

    F1
  3. Button to demonstrate M23 at Laguna Seca 16:17

    Button to demonstrate M23 at Laguna Seca

    Jenson Button will get behind the wheel of Emerson Fittipaldi's 1974 title-winning McLaren M23 as part of the Rolex Monterey…

    Misc
  4. 15:44

    Latest Formula 2 photos: Sakhir - Day 2

    F2
  5. Latifi quickest on second Bahrain test day 15:41

    Latifi quickest on second Bahrain test day

    DAMS driver Nicholas Latifi recorded the quickest time on the second day of the final pre-season Formula 2 test in Bahrain on…

    F2
  6. Insight: Bratches on F1's digital facelift 14:02

    Insight: Bratches on F1's digital facelift

    Formula 1's new season opened last weekend with overhauled regulations, forming a different on-track spectacle, but there have…

    F1
  7. Background: Whiting on F1's new rules 12:36

    Background: Whiting on F1's new rules

    Charlie Whiting spoke at length about Formula 1's new rules and their application at the Australian Grand Prix. GPUpdate.net…

    F1
  8. Video: Mexico City ePrix Season 2 re-cap 10:32

    Video: Mexico City ePrix Season 2 re-cap

    Ahead of this weekend's Mexico City ePrix, Formula E looks back at last year's controversial inaugural race.

    FE
  9. Allison gives credit to 'very quick' Ferrari 09:41

    Allison gives credit to 'very quick' Ferrari

    James Allison has given credit to former team Ferrari after it beat new employer Mercedes to victory at last weekend's…

    F1
  10. Horner: Red Bull needs to find half a second 08:12

    Horner: Red Bull needs to find half a second

    Red Bull needs to find around half a second per lap in order to fight on a level playing field with pace-setting rivals Ferrari…

    F1
  11. Video of the Day: Rosberg in Monaco 05:38

    Video of the Day: Rosberg in Monaco

    Nico Rosberg shares his memories of growing up in Monaco and is stopped by police mid-interview!

    F1
  12. Wednesday 29 March 2017

  13. McLaren working with Amazon on TV series 17:32

    McLaren working with Amazon on TV series

    McLaren has been working with global internet retailer Amazon on a multi-part documentary series about the team's 2017 season in…

    F1
  14. 17:08

    Latest Formula 2 photos: Sakhir - Day 1

    F2
  15. Matsushita loses best lap, Leclerc fastest 17:05

    Matsushita loses best lap, Leclerc fastest

    Nobuharu Matsushita has lost the pace-setting time he posted on the first day of Formula 2's test in Bahrain over a red flag…

    F2
  16. MotoGP drops penalty points system 16:52

    MotoGP drops penalty points system

    MotoGP organisers have scrapped the series' penalty points system. MotoGP introduced a penalty points system ahead of the…

    MotoGP
  17. Matsushita beats Leclerc on first test day 16:02

    Matsushita beats Leclerc on first test day

    Nobuharu Matsushita set the pace on the first day of Formula 2's second pre-season test in Bahrain, denying Charles Leclerc with…

    F2
  18. IndyCar reveals new images of 2018 design 15:34

    IndyCar reveals new images of 2018 design

    IndyCar has revealed new images of the series' planned 2018 car design. IndyCar's latest computer-generated images cover…

    Indy
  19. Iannone: I must avoid being 'impulsive' 14:32

    Iannone: I must avoid being 'impulsive'

    Andrea Iannone has admitted he must try to rein in his aggression, having squandered a potential podium position on his Suzuki…

    MotoGP
  20. Video: Mexico City ePrix key statistics 13:02

    Video: Mexico City ePrix key statistics

    Formula E previews the Mexico City ePrix at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez with some key statistics.

    FE
  21. Renault's 'biggest step' to come in Canada 11:22

    Renault's 'biggest step' to come in Canada

    Helmut Marko has expressed optimism over a sizeable upgrade that Renault is planning for the Canadian Grand Prix, but admits Red…

    F1
  22. Mark Sutton: Story behind the shot - Australia 11:02

    Mark Sutton: Story behind the shot - Australia

    Especially for lovers of motorsport photography, GPUpdate.net's race-by-race series, Story Behind the Shot, continues throughout…

    F1
  23. Vettel: Ferrari work starting to pay off 09:38

    Vettel: Ferrari work starting to pay off

    Sebastian Vettel believes that the work undertaken at Ferrari over the past couple of years is "slowly" starting to pay off…

    F1
  24. Aprilia hails 'extraordinary' Espargaró 08:16

    Aprilia hails 'extraordinary' Espargaró

    Aprilia has praised an "extraordinary" showing from Aleix Espargaró and believes the cancellation of qualifying prevented the…

    MotoGP
  25. Video of the Day: Mick on the road - Part 2 05:32

    Video of the Day: Mick on the road - Part 2

    Mick Schumacher continues his driving lessons in Mercedes-Benz's special car-com series.

    Misc
  26. Tuesday 28 March 2017

  27. Mann returns to Dale Coyne for Indy 500 19:30

    Mann returns to Dale Coyne for Indy 500

    Pippa Mann will return to the Indianapolis 500 after being signed to drive Dale Coyne Racing's third car for the prestigious…

    Indy
  28. Fernley: Double points 'fantastic reward' 16:16

    Fernley: Double points 'fantastic reward'

    Force India Deputy Team Principal Bob Fernley says a double points finish for the squad at the Australian Grand Prix is a…

    F1
  29. Hamilton sure of gains on tyre usage 15:44

    Hamilton sure of gains on tyre usage

    Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton says the team understands where it is lacking in terms of tyre usage, after he missed out on…

    F1
  30. Zarco vows to learn after starring debut 14:05

    Zarco vows to learn after starring debut

    Tech 3 rider Johann Zarco has vowed to learn from his race-ending mistake, in the wake of a shock spell in the lead on his…

    MotoGP
  31. Lack of preparation hurt Renault - Abiteboul 12:18

    Lack of preparation hurt Renault - Abiteboul

    Renault chief Cyril Abiteboul reckons the team's prospects at the Australian Grand Prix were hindered by a lack of preparation…

    F1
  32. Video: Lewis Hamilton explores Melbourne 11:02

    Video: Lewis Hamilton explores Melbourne

    Follow Lewis Hamilton as he explores Melbourne during the Australian Grand Prix weekend.

    F1
  33. Webber: Alonso might not do whole season 09:45

    Webber: Alonso might not do whole season

    Ex-Formula 1 driver Mark Webber has suggested that Fernando Alonso might not see out the 2017 season with McLaren-Honda, as he…

    F1
  34. Grosjean sees 'huge potential' despite exit 09:40

    Grosjean sees 'huge potential' despite exit

    Romain Grosjean expressed confidence that Haas' VF-17 has "huge potential", despite the team suffering a double retirement at…

    F1
  35. Hyman gets F2 test outing with Campos 08:44

    Hyman gets F2 test outing with Campos

    South African racer Raoul Hyman will sample Formula 2 machinery with Campos during this week's second pre-season test in…

    F2
  36. Opinion: Don't judge 2017 overtaking on opener 07:55

    Opinion: Don't judge 2017 overtaking on opener

    The 2017 Formula 1 season-opener in Australia featured a relative lack of overtaking, drawing complaints from some quarters, but…

    F1
  37. Video: Onboard with Rahal at Barber 05:24

    Video: Onboard with Rahal at Barber

    Ride onboard with Graham Rahal at the Barber Motorsports Park, ahead of next weekend's Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at the venue.

    Indy
  38. Monday 27 March 2017

  39. Australian Grand Prix: Winners and Losers 16:22

    Australian Grand Prix: Winners and Losers

    Sebastian Vettel opened the season with victory at the Australian Grand Prix, setting up the prospect of a title battle with…

    F1
  40. Márquez: Tyre change was 'biggest mistake' 15:36

    Márquez: Tyre change was 'biggest mistake'

    Reigning World Champion Marc Márquez labelled a tyre change pre-race as the "biggest mistake" as he slipped away from…

    MotoGP
  41. Canamasas to test again for Trident 14:32

    Canamasas to test again for Trident

    GP2 veteran Sergio Canamasas will again conduct Formula 2 testing with Trident for the second pre-season group running in…

    F2
  42. Hülkenberg 'just couldn't overtake' Alonso 14:10

    Hülkenberg 'just couldn't overtake' Alonso

    Renault's Nico Hülkenberg was left frustrated after dropping behind McLaren-Honda rival Fernando Alonso on the opening lap of…

    F1
  43. Vandoorne: McLaren race finish a milestone 12:02

    Vandoorne: McLaren race finish a milestone

    Stoffel Vandoorne says that reaching the finish of the Australian Grand Prix represented a milestone for McLaren-Honda…

    F1
  44. Sauber baffled at no Magnussen penalty 11:42

    Sauber baffled at no Magnussen penalty

    Sauber Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn blasted an "incomprehensible" decision by the stewards not to penalise Kevin Magnussen…

    F1
more news