Wow, the 98th Indianapolis 500 brought us a different race, a very clean race through the first 150 laps with a battle up front primarily between Ryan Hunter-Reay, Helio Castroneves, Ed Carpenter, James Hinchcliffe, Scott Dixon and a quick Will Power early on. Retirements came from Graham Rahal and Buddy Lazier, whilst Tony Kanaan had mechanical issues, although he did return the target #10 car to the racetrack later on.
Then the cautions came and the complexion of the race changed. The first caution came out for Charlie Kimball spinning off track. Following this the fun really began up front with fuel mileage no longer an issue. Target Chip Ganassi’s Scott Dixon had a tough race, with a huge off into the wall after getting the car loose.
The restart saw even more craziness with an ambitious three-wide manoeuvre between James Hinchcliffe, Ed Carpenter and Townsend Bell, resulting in the hometown pole sitter and James Hinchcliffe retiring from the race, after running up front all day, creating some tension between the two in TV interviews afterwards.
The race returned to green with 20 to go, Townsend Bell managed to escape the carnage, continuing his charge through the field; sadly Townsend had a huge off into the wall himself, eliminating him from the race with eight laps to go. All of those involved in on track incidents thankfully escaped injury.
Indycar therefore made the decision that instead of finishing the race under Yellow—which would have been inevitable for the debris clean up period—to red flag the race for the duration of the clean-up. A precedent set by the series at the end of the 2013 season finale at California Auto Club Speedway and in my opinion a great move by the series…especially after the previous two DW12 era Indianapolis 500 races finsihed under yellow flags after thrilling battles throughout, leaving some fans a little disappointed. I “aren’t” a fan of NASCAR’s Green-White Checker and to me, a red flag is a far better solution.
The race resumed on lap 195 of 200 for an epic sprint for the finish between the three remaining true contenders for the victory. Ryan Hunter-Reay in the lead, Helio Castroneves, trying for his forth 500 victory in second and Ryan’s teammate Marco Andretti in third.
The duel for the victory was immense—with myself screaming at the television admittedly—Helio and Ryan were trading places with the latter coming close to the hitting the outside grass through one move. It came down to the final corner when Helio gave it one more shot crossing the line just 0.06 seconds behind Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco maintaining third position.
It was an incredible 98th running of the Memorial Day classic Indianapolis 500. It really is one of my favourite races of the year and this year’s race didn’t disappoint. Congratulations to Ryan Hunter-Reay and the Andretti Autosport squad.
Other notable performances within the race was NASCAR driver Kurt Busch, on double duty today finishing 8th, Seriously changing my perception of his driving after today, meanwhile Rookie Sage Karam drove a brilliant race from 31st to finish 9th.
Rookie sensation of 2013’s running Carlos Munoz was 4th, returnee Jacques Villeneuve 14th and Juan Pablo Montoya’s return to IMS for the Indianapolis 500 finished his day in 5th position, following a pit lane speed infraction drive through penalty. Whilst teammate Will Power had similar issues resulting in an 8th place finish for the series points leader going into the Indianapolis 500.
What are your thoughts on this year’s race?