The Andretti Curse is over……..well, sort of. Michael Andretti got to go to Indianapolis Motor Speedway victory lane as a car owner for the first time after his driver Ryan Hunter-Reay outdueled Helio Castroneves to win the Indianapolis 500. Hunter-Reay becomes the first American driver to win the event in eight years.
“It’s a dream come true,” Hunter-Reay said. “I can’t even believe it. It hasn’t even sunk in yet. To have a racecar this strong and win this race, it’s a dream come true. I’m a proud American boy.”
A caution would come out with 10 laps to go for Townsend Bell wrecking, setting up a six lap dash to the checkered flag. In the final six laps, Hunter-Reay and Castroneves traded the lead back and forth with Hunter-Reay grabbing the lead heading into turn one on the final lap for the final time.
The Florida native was then able to hold off Castroneves’ final charge for the win to score his first ever Indianapolis 500 victory.
“There was no practice for that,” Hunter-Reay commented. “Those were all new lines. I just was doing whatever I could to do it. Nobody can stand alone without a good team – I still don’t know what to say.”
Hunter-Reay added that in years to come, he’s going to cherish being able to win the event and be in victory lane wit his wife Beccy Hunter-Reay, son Ryden and his entire team.
“This is my fifth year at Andretti Autosport. These guys have always been behind me from the beginning,” Hunter-Reay commented.
For Michael Andretti, it marks his first time winning the race as a car owner and the first time an Andretti has been in Indianapolis victory lane since Mario Andretti’s triumph in 1969. It also marks the 50th victory for Andretti Autosport.
“He’s a huge part of the team,” Andretti expressed. “He’s a great guy. He’s a friend. He truly deserves this win. We’re proud to have him on his team. If it couldn’t be Marco, he was the next guy that I wanted to win.”
For Helio Castroneves, he would finish second in his attempt to score his fourth career victory in the “Greatest Spectacle of Racing”.
“Certainly, when they stopped, it broke the rhythm,” Castroneves said, speaking of the red flag after Bell’s wreck. “First of all, congrats to Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay. They did a helluva job. I want say thanks to Roger and the whole team. We were so close to continuing the tradition. I wanted to give this to Roger so bad. But man, that was a great race in racing hard back and forth. It’s good when second sucks.”
Marco Andretti led a couple times throughout the day before finishing third for his fourth top five finish in nine Indianapolis 500 starts.
Carlos Munoz finished fourth for his second straight top-four finish at Indianapolis after finishing second last year. Fellow Columbian Juan Pablo Montoya finished fifth in his first trip to IMS in an open-wheel car since winning the event in in 2000.
After going to back-up following his crash at the beginning of last week, Kurt Busch cracked the top 10 in the late stages of the 500-mile race and was able to pick off some spots during the late stages of the race to finish sixth. Busch will now fly to Charlotte Motor Speedway to run the Coca Cola 600, where he was start from the rear due to missing the driver’s meeting. Sebastian Bourdais would finish seventh for his best career Indianapolis 500 triumph.
Pole sitter Ed Carpenter kept himself in contention throughout the day, though was caught up in a wreck with 25 to go when he went three-wide into the corner with Bell and James Hinchcliffe, with contract transpiring between them.
“Just guys not realizing how many laps we had in the race. It wasn’t a green-white-checkered or something like that,” Carpenter commented. “Townsend and I would’ve been fine. The moment that Hinch went under us we were in trouble. Just a dumb move. ”
“I was the last guy on the scene so I guess that’s fair,” Hinchcliffe commented on the blame from Carpenter. “From where I was, it could’ve been the last restart and you have to go for it. Ed pulled out and I went for it and Ed gave me the room initially. I don’t think Townsend knew we were three-wide and came down into Ed and then Ed came down towards me. But I guess being last guy on the scene, I have to take part of the blame. Probably partly my fault, partly Townsend’s fault – but defiantly not Ed’s fault. I feel bad for him.”
The pair would ride back to the infield care center together following the wreck. Carpenter was asked what transpired on the ride back, in which he responded, “He’s lucky that he had that concussion last week.”
Chip Ganassi Racing didn’t have the Indianapolis 500 that they were looking for as Charlie Kimball would wreck in turn two with 50 laps to go for the first caution of the race, with Dixon wrecking in turn four with just under 40 laps to go. Defending race winner Tony Kanaan also had a tough day as he spent a bunch of laps on pit road getting repairs made to his car after it wouldn’t refire when he ran out of fuel. Briscoe, in the fourth CGR car, would make it back for a top-10 finish after going a lap down early due to a flat tire after contact on the opening lap with Jacques Villeneuve.
Graham Rahal’s bad luck continued as he would be the first driver to retire from the event with electrical issues.
“Some little electrical gremlin,” he commented “I didn’t think it was right from the start as it was just slow. It kept shutting off on us and you can’t run like that. We put a lot of pressure on us to succeed here today and I don’t know what we have to do to turn it around. Everybody is going to keep working hard to try and improve.”
Fresh off their biggest race of the season, there will be no break for the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers as next weekend brings the Duel in Detroit with a race scheduled for May 31st, and a race scheduled for June 1st on the streets of Detroiot.