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. Wednesday 29 July 2015

  2. Mark Sutton: Story Behind the Shot - Hungary 10:17

    Mark Sutton: Story Behind the Shot - Hungary

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

    F1
  3. Feature: Hungarian GP's key questions 09:26

    Feature: Hungarian GP's key questions

    In the build up to last weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix, GPUpdate.net posed five key questions and pondered the potential…

    F1
  4. Video of the Day: Formula 1 in your mobile 05:21

    Video of the Day: Formula 1 in your mobile

    Ferrari sponsor Santander showcases how Formula 1 has spread to everyday mobile phones.

    F1
  5. Tuesday 28 July 2015

  6. Amberg explains reason behind withdrawals 14:39

    Amberg explains reason behind withdrawals

    Swiss driver Zoël Amberg has explained the medical reasons behind his withdrawal from GP2 rounds in Austria and Hungary and…

    GP2
  7. Marko lauds 'perfect' Verstappen performance 14:06

    Marko lauds 'perfect' Verstappen performance

    Red Bull consultant Helmut Marko hailed Max Verstappen's "perfect" performance during the Hungarian Grand Prix as the Dutch…

    F1
  8. Vandoorne pleased to extend title advantage 11:30

    Vandoorne pleased to extend title advantage

    McLaren protégé Stoffel Vandoorne says he was pleased to extend his GP2 championship advantage in Hungary, despite being…

    GP2
  9. Tost sure fifth position still possible 10:26

    Tost sure fifth position still possible

    Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost is sure that the outfit can still achieve its target of fifth position in the standings after…

    F1
  10. IndyCar to introduce new rain tyre 09:09

    IndyCar to introduce new rain tyre

    IndyCar has announced that a modified rain tyre will be introduced for this weekend's round at Mid-Ohio following development…

    Indy
  11. Singapore makes changes to circuit layout 08:56

    Singapore makes changes to circuit layout

    Organisers of the Singapore Grand Prix have announced that they will make minor changes to the layout of the Marina Bay Street…

    F1
  12. Hungary result to make Williams 'stronger' 08:41

    Hungary result to make Williams 'stronger'

    Williams performance chief Rob Smedley says that the squad's challenging Hungarian Grand Prix will make it a stronger force over…

    F1
  13. Video of the Day: Haas on Formula 1 entry 05:34

    Video of the Day: Haas on Formula 1 entry

    Haas F1 owner, Gene Haas, discusses how his team is progressing ahead of its planned 2016 entry.

    F1
  14. Monday 27 July 2015

  15. 16:37

    Book F1 tickets and join the action live!

    F1
  16. Arrivabene pleased to prove critics wrong 15:03

    Arrivabene pleased to prove critics wrong

    Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene says he was pleased to prove doubters wrong as Sebastian Vettel claimed the marque's…

    F1
  17. Wolff: Rushed stop cost Rosberg victory 14:21

    Wolff: Rushed stop cost Rosberg victory

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff reckons rushing Nico Rosberg's pit-stop under the Virtual Safety Car and putting on the slower tyre…

    F1
  18. Hungarian Grand Prix: Winners and Losers 14:12

    Hungarian Grand Prix: Winners and Losers

    Sebastian Vettel returned Ferrari to the top step, others pulled off surprise results, and some struggled at the Hungarian Grand…

    F1
  19. Teams back Pirelli extension for 2017 12:46

    Teams back Pirelli extension for 2017

    Senior figures from Formula 1 teams have backed the notion of Pirelli extending its tenure as Formula 1's sole tyre supplier for…

    F1
  20. Video: Rosberg's Hungaroring blog 11:32

    Video: Rosberg's Hungaroring blog

    Nico Rosberg reflects on his eighth-place finish at the end of a dramatic Hungarian Grand Prix; the German was running second…

    F1
  21. Maldonado says stewards were 'very strict' 11:22

    Maldonado says stewards were 'very strict'

    Pastor Maldonado believes that the Hungarian Grand Prix stewards were "very strict" as the Lotus driver picked up a number of…

    F1
  22. Forward Racing to miss Indianapolis round 10:49

    Forward Racing to miss Indianapolis round

    Forward Racing has announced that it has taken the "painful decision" to pull out of the upcoming MotoGP round at Indianapolis…

    MotoGP
  23. Renault enjoys return to the sharp end 10:02

    Renault enjoys return to the sharp end

    Renault hailed another step forward as supplied teams Red Bull and Toro Rosso occupied three of the top four positions at the…

    F1
  24. Massa rues pointless Hungary weekend 09:17

    Massa rues pointless Hungary weekend

    Felipe Massa has described Williams' second non-scoring weekend of the 2015 season as "a blow" to the team's championship…

    F1
  25. Hamilton among drivers given penalty points 08:14

    Hamilton among drivers given penalty points

    Lewis Hamilton was among the drivers handed penalty points by the stewards as a result of incidents which took place during…

    F1
  26. Video of the Day: Meet the Nasr family 05:02

    Video of the Day: Meet the Nasr family

    Sauber Formula 1 driver Felipe Nasr introduces his family, which is half Brazilian, half Lebanese.

    F1
  27. 01:12

    Championship standings after Hungary

    F1
  28. Sunday 26 July 2015

  29. 21:15

    Latest F1 photos: Sunday at the Hungaroring

    F1
  30. Booth proud of Manor after tough week 21:14

    Booth proud of Manor after tough week

    John Booth paid tribute to his Manor Marussia squad at the end of a "tough week" for the team, following the death of Jules…

    F1
  31. Räikkönen frustrated to miss out on 1-2 19:02

    Räikkönen frustrated to miss out on 1-2

    Kimi Räikkönen expressed his frustration after Ferrari missed out on a "very easy" 1-2 finish in Sunday's Hungarian Grand…

    F1
  32. Verstappen hails 'unbelievable' result 18:50

    Verstappen hails 'unbelievable' result

    Max Verstappen was initially lost for words after achieving the best result of his Formula 1 career to date at the Hungarian…

    F1
  33. Alonso: Fifth place 'a nice little present' 18:31

    Alonso: Fifth place 'a nice little present'

    Fernando Alonso has described his top five finish at the Hungarian Grand Prix as "a nice little present" for the McLaren-Honda…

    F1
  34. Rosberg says Ricciardo at fault for clash 18:12

    Rosberg says Ricciardo at fault for clash

    Nico Rosberg feels that Daniel Ricciardo was at fault for their collision in the closing stages of Sunday's Hungarian Grand…

    F1
  35. Ricciardo: Podium feels like a victory 17:47

    Ricciardo: Podium feels like a victory

    Daniel Ricciardo says his podium finish at the Hungarian Grand Prix "felt like a victory" after Red Bull's trying start to the…

    F1
  36. Marchionne: Ferrari victory is for Bianchi 17:24

    Marchionne: Ferrari victory is for Bianchi

    Ferrari President Sergio Marchionne has dedicated the squad's victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix to the late Jules…

    F1
  37. Kvyat rewarded after 'never giving up' 16:59

    Kvyat rewarded after 'never giving up'

    Red Bull driver Daniil Kvyat spoke of a "never give up" attitude after recording his maiden podium finish at the Hungarian Grand…

    F1
  38. Hülkenberg had little warning over failure 16:49

    Hülkenberg had little warning over failure

    Nico Hülkenberg said he had little prior warning over the failure of his front wing as he suffered a dramatic exit at the…

    F1
  39. Hamilton laments 'really bad performance' 16:42

    Hamilton laments 'really bad performance'

    World Champion Lewis Hamilton said he put in one of his worst performances in recent years as he slumped to sixth at the…

    F1
  40. Vettel dedicates victory to Bianchi 16:13

    Vettel dedicates victory to Bianchi

    Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel has dedicated his victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix to the late Jules Bianchi, who passed away last…

    F1
  41. 15:07

    In full: Hungarian Grand Prix race result

    F1
  42. Vettel wins dramatic Hungarian Grand Prix 15:05

    Vettel wins dramatic Hungarian Grand Prix

    Ferrari realised its two-win target for 2015 as Sebastian Vettel triumphed in a dramatic Hungarian Grand Prix, with Red Bull's…

    F1
  43. Formula 1 holds minute's silence for Bianchi 12:46

    Formula 1 holds minute's silence for Bianchi

    Formula 1 collectively paid tribute to the late Jules Bianchi by holding a minute's silence ahead of Sunday afternoon's…

    F1
  44. Eriksson penalty hands podium to Parry 12:40

    Eriksson penalty hands podium to Parry

    Jimmy Eriksson has been handed a time penalty for cutting a corner in the second GP3 race, handing his third place finish to…

    GP3
more news