The month of May for the Verizon IndyCar Series came to end with its historic 101st running of the Indianapolis 500. Like years past it was an absolute thriller with Takuma Sato of Andretti Autosport winning the race. This is Andretti Autosports third Indianapolis 500 victory in 4 years.
As usual, the Indianapolis 500 started 3-wide 11 rows deep showcasing who did and did not have pace during the month of May. Scott Dixon led the field to green with all 33 cars spreading out and making room for each other while trying to get every position possible.
Dixon kept the lead for the opening laps only to have his teammate Tony Kanaan pass him 6 laps in. Fernando Alonso dropped back on the start but found his way back to the top 6 before advancing into the top 5. Alexander Rossi showed pace early battling with Scott Dixon for second place before pitstops.
Tony Kanaan pit from the lead on lap 29 which led to the rest of the field diving in for the first stops of the race. Juan Pablo Montoya ran into trouble in the pits having a 17.8-second pit stop costing him major track position. Ed Carpenter assumed the lead through the green flag pit stops only to be overtaken by Alexander Rossi. Fernando Alonso would show his muscle making his way up to the front and passing Rossi for the lead on lap 37. Rossi
and Alonso battled for the lead until lap 53.
Scott Dixon and Jay Howard became the first retirements from the 500 due to a massive crash that saw Scott Dixon fly into the air before hitting the inside catch fence and wall. The crash was caused due to Howard hitting the turn 1 wall and pulling in front of Dixon. Howard placed blame on Ryan Hunter-Reay for him hitting the wall. Both drivers were checked out and ok after the crash.
The crash put the race under red flag for the damaged fence to be replaced. After repairs the entire field pit for new tires and fuel. The race got back under way on lap 61 with Alonso still leading.
Alonso’s teammates Rossi and Takuma Sato challenged for the lead battling for multiple laps. Ryan Hunter-Reay would join his teammates at the front battling Rossi for second place.
The 1 car of Simon Pagenaud would cause a stack up of multiple leading to the next caution. Conor Daly being a part of the stack up hit the turn 3 wall ending his race. Adding to the chaos was Jack Harvey spinning and hitting the inside wall also bringing his race to an end.
Another restart saw Rossi overtake Sato just moments after the green flag. Hunter-Reay would get his first dose of the lead on lap 79 but not for long. A caution for debris brought Hunter-Reay’s time in the front to an end for the time being.
Will Power and Max Chilton stayed out under caution leading the field to green. Like the previous restart, the second place car makes a move instantly after crossing the start-finish with Max Chilton taking the lead. Chilton’s lead was cut short when he was overtaken by Hunter-Reay on lap 87. Hunter-Reay’s teammates followed fighting to get past Chilton.
Helio Castroneves of Team Penske would show up to the lead battle fighting with Andretti Autosport. Castroneves pits on lap 105 on an alternate strategy with Chilton and Power coming in the next lap.
Alexander Rossi was the first on the favored strategy to pit on lap 112. AJ Foyt driver Zach Veach also pit on the same lap as Rossi but reporting that he had no power. Filling in for the injured Sebastien Bourdais, James Davison was black flagged for a loose front wing after contact with Oriol Servia.
The next caution saw the 44 car of Buddy Lazier spin in turn 2 making hard contact with the wall ending his race. Sage Karam’s day also ended under the caution when his 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing came to a stop.
The race restarted on lap 130 with Fernando Alonso pouncing on the lap cars of Sebastian Saavedra and Carlos Munoz that had been lined up between him and the leader. Alonso would take the lead on lap 131 with caution flying just seconds after.
Alonso once again led the field back to green on lap 135 with his teammate Hunter-Reay right behind. The Andretti teammates battled until lap 137 when Hunter-Reay’s Honda engine expired.
On lap 142 the race was back underway with Fernando Alonso getting his worst start since the beginning of the race losing multiple spots.Luckily for Alonso, another caution came out on lap 143 due to Ed Carpenter having wing damage that scattered debris around the track.
Charlie Kimball led his first laps of the race as the race got back underway. Kimball’s teammate Chilton challenged him taking the lead on lap 149. Kimball and the 18 of James Davison battled for the second spot until Chilton pitted on lap 167.
Charlie Kimball’s engine would expire ending his race along with Zach Veach coming to a complete stop.
Only 29 laps remained as the green waved with battles between Castroneves, Ed Jones, and Takuma Sato. Fernando Alonso suffered a similar fate to his teammate and Kimball when his engine expired bringing his impressive IndyCar debut to an end.
17 laps were left as the race started back only for the wreck just seconds into the racing that involved James Davison, Oriol Servia, Will Power, James Hinchcliffe, and Josef Newgarden. The crash ended all their Indianapolis 500 hopes.
Finally with 11 laps to go the green waved for the last with Max Chilton leading followed by Helio Castroneves and Takuma Sato. Chilton showed massive improvement as he battled 3-time Indy 500 winner Castroneves. Castroneves passed Chilton with just laps remaining. Sato followed behind Castroneves which ended Chilton’s strong effort. Ed Jones battle with Chilton for third while Castroneves and Sato battled for the win.
The last pass of the race came with 3 laps remaining when Sato passed Castroneves into turn 1. Sato would be untouchable and go on to win his first Indianapolis 500 and get redemption from his heartbreak in 2013.
Image Credit – www.indycar.com – Jim Haines – David Yowe – Chris Owens