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. Sunday 31 July 2016

  2. Stroll extends lead as trio split Spa wins 08:20

    Stroll extends lead as trio split Spa wins

    Prema's Lance Stroll extended his lead in the European Formula 3 Championship as a trio of drivers shared victories at…

    F3
  3. Buemi first to sample 2017 dry tyres 07:25

    Buemi first to sample 2017 dry tyres

    Red Bull test driver Sébastien Buemi will be the first person to sample sole Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli's prototype 2017…

    F1
  4. Video of the Day: Vettel drives ambulance 05:37

    Video of the Day: Vettel drives ambulance

    Sebastian Vettel swaps a Ferrari 488 GTB for an ambulance in a driving challenge against the clock.

    F1
  5. Pagenaud on top in Mid-Ohio qualifying 01:12

    Pagenaud on top in Mid-Ohio qualifying

    Simon Pagenaud claimed another pole position on Saturday, this time at Mid-Ohio. It was the sixth P1 Award this season for the…

    Indy
  6. Saturday 30 July 2016

  7. 20:28

    Latest GP2 photos: Saturday at Hockenheim

    GP2
  8. Gasly disqualified from third place, lead cut 20:27

    Gasly disqualified from third place, lead cut

    GP2 Series leader Pierre Gasly has had his title advantage cut to just six points after he was excluded from the results of the…

    GP2
  9. Markelov, de Jong hit with pit lane starts 18:36

    Markelov, de Jong hit with pit lane starts

    Artem Markelov and Daniël de Jong must start the GP2 Sprint Race from the pit lane after they were deemed to have caused…

    GP2
  10. 18:02

    Latest F1 photos: Saturday at Hockenheim

    F1
  11. Hülkenberg given one-place grid drop 17:53

    Hülkenberg given one-place grid drop

    Force India driver Nico Hülkenberg has been given a one-place grid penalty for his home Grand Prix in Germany, following a tyre…

    F1
  12. 17:05

    Latest GP3 photos: Saturday at Hockenheim

    GP3
  13. Fuoco profits from restart for GP3 victory 17:03

    Fuoco profits from restart for GP3 victory

    Ferrari youngster Antonio Fuoco collected his second GP3 victory of the season after profiting from a Virtual Safety Car restart…

    GP3
  14. Vettel: Ferrari not here to finish fifth/sixth 16:34

    Vettel: Ferrari not here to finish fifth/sixth

    Sebastian Vettel has made clear that Ferrari should be achieving more than fifth and sixth, after a difficult qualifying session…

    F1
  15. Sirotkin wins crazy GP2 race at Hockenheim 15:58

    Sirotkin wins crazy GP2 race at Hockenheim

    ART Grand Prix driver Sergey Sirotkin secured his second victory in a row as he triumphed during a scintillating GP2 Feature…

    GP2
  16. Sainz Jr. gets three-place grid penalty 15:39

    Sainz Jr. gets three-place grid penalty

    Carlos Sainz Jr. has been given a three-place grid penalty for the German Grand Prix, after it was deemed that he blocked Felipe…

    F1
  17. Ricciardo satisfied with gap to Mercedes 15:17

    Ricciardo satisfied with gap to Mercedes

    Daniel Ricciardo says Red Bull was "close enough" to pole position for the German Grand Prix, given Mercedes' weekend-long…

    F1
  18. Hamilton says he 'had the pace' for pole 14:55

    Hamilton says he 'had the pace' for pole

    Lewis Hamilton feels he was quick enough to take pole position for the German Grand Prix, but simply "didn't finish off" his…

    F1
  19. Rosberg relieved to make sole lap count 14:42

    Rosberg relieved to make sole lap count

    Nico Rosberg expressed relief as he took pole position for the German Grand Prix with just one lap, after an electronic issue…

    F1
  20. 14:06

    German Grand Prix: Qualifying results

    F1
  21. Rosberg takes pole despite Q3 scare 14:04

    Rosberg takes pole despite Q3 scare

    Nico Rosberg beat Lewis Hamilton to pole position for the German Grand Prix, ensuring that he has topped all sessions so far…

    F1
  22. 12:46

    Follow qualifying for the German GP!

    F1
  23. Leclerc gets GP3 grid drop for impeding 12:18

    Leclerc gets GP3 grid drop for impeding

    Ferrari youngster Charles Leclerc has been handed a three-place grid penalty for impeding Trident's Giuliano Alesi during GP3…

    GP3
  24. Hamilton avoids penalty, Mercedes fined 12:16

    Hamilton avoids penalty, Mercedes fined

    Lewis Hamilton has avoided a further reprimand, and penalty, following his unsafe release during German Grand Prix practice…

    F1
  25. Hamilton called to stewards over pit release 11:23

    Hamilton called to stewards over pit release

    Lewis Hamilton has been summoned to the stewards over an alleged unsafe release by Mercedes during Saturday's final practice…

    F1
  26. Grosjean set for five-place grid penalty 11:06

    Grosjean set for five-place grid penalty

    Romain Grosjean will take a five-place grid penalty at the German Grand Prix, with Haas forced to change his gearbox following…

    F1
  27. 11:04

    German Grand Prix: Full Practice 3 results

    F1
  28. Rosberg completes practice clean sweep 11:03

    Rosberg completes practice clean sweep

    Nico Rosberg completed a clean sweep of free practice sessions by topping FP3 for the German Grand Prix, in front of Mercedes…

    F1
  29. 09:52

    Follow final practice for the German GP!

    F1
  30. Albon extends lead with Hockenheim pole 09:21

    Albon extends lead with Hockenheim pole

    ART Grand Prix's Alexander Albon increased his GP3 Series lead to seven points by clocking the quickest time during qualifying…

    GP3
  31. Ferrari must 'pull together' after Allison exit 09:02

    Ferrari must 'pull together' after Allison exit

    Jock Clear says that Ferrari must "pull together" in the coming weeks and months if it is to overcome the recent departure of…

    F1
  32. Vettel, Gutiérrez lined up for Pirelli wet test 08:32

    Vettel, Gutiérrez lined up for Pirelli wet test

    Sebastian Vettel and Esteban Gutiérrez have been tasked with trialling Pirelli's nascent 2017-specification wet tyres at…

    F1
  33. Whiting wants all drivers to sample halo 07:12

    Whiting wants all drivers to sample halo

    Charlie Whiting, the FIA's Race Director, is keen for all Formula 1 drivers to sample the halo device, prior to increased…

    F1
  34. Video of the Day: Hülkenberg drives W 25 05:36

    Video of the Day: Hülkenberg drives W 25

    Ride onboard with Nico Hülkenberg as he drives the Mercedes-Benz W 25 from 1934 at Hockenheim.

    F1
  35. Friday 29 July 2016

  36. 19:32

    Latest GP2 photos: Friday at Hockenheim

    GP2
  37. Giovinazzi excluded from GP2 qualifying 19:31

    Giovinazzi excluded from GP2 qualifying

    GP2 title contender Antonio Giovinazzi has been excluded from the results of qualifying at Hockenheim after his Prema-run…

    GP2
  38. 17:02

    Latest F1 photos: Friday at Hockenheim

    F1
  39. Vettel positive but wants 'steps forward' 16:57

    Vettel positive but wants 'steps forward'

    Sebastian Vettel described a positive opening day of practice in Germany but still feels that Ferrari needs to make significant…

    F1
  40. Mercedes moved to prevent Hamilton penalty 16:09

    Mercedes moved to prevent Hamilton penalty

    Mercedes says it acted to remove any risk of Lewis Hamilton being handed a reprimand over track limits during German Grand Prix…

    F1
  41. Button cleared after precautionary checks 15:37

    Button cleared after precautionary checks

    Jenson Button has been cleared to compete in the remainder of the German Grand Prix weekend after he required a precautionary…

    F1
  42. Sirotkin edges Gasly for Hockenheim pole 15:29

    Sirotkin edges Gasly for Hockenheim pole

    ART Grand Prix driver Sergey Sirotkin claimed his third GP2 pole position of the season as he edged series leader Pierre Gasly…

    GP2
  43. Ricciardo: Red Bull/Ferrari battle 'close' 15:10

    Ricciardo: Red Bull/Ferrari battle 'close'

    Daniel Ricciardo says the battle between Red Bull and Ferrari at this weekend's German Grand Prix will be "close", given…

    F1
more news