Scott Dixon wins 92nd Indy 500 from pole
Brisbane, Australia-born Kiwi Scott Dixon became the 19th driver to win from the pole position Sunday by winning the 92nd running of the Indy 500 over Vitor Meira and Marco Andretti. For Dixon it was sweet revenge after losing the 2007 championship to Dario Franchitti on the last lap of the race when he ran short of fuel.
The race marked the first time in 12 years that the two open wheel racing series in the USA were reunited under the same umbrella. As expected, the top three teams from the Indy Racing League - Ganassi, Penske and Andretti Green - dominated the event from start to finish.
With 11 rookies in the race crashes were numerous, and the race was slowed 8 times slowing the average speed to just 143 MPH. Dixon, running in first or second all race long stayed out of trouble, but was annoyed by all the yellows.
"There were so many yellows," Dixon said, "it was really hard to get into a rhythm."
Dixon led a race high 115 laps, the most laps led by a race winner since Juan Pablo Montoya led 167 laps in 2000. Andretti, who finished second as a rookie in 2006, led twice for 15 laps, and Meira took the lead on Lap 160 following a restart when he sliced between Dixon and Ed Carpenter heading into Turn 1. Meira led 11 laps before Dixon regained the lead for good on Lap 172.
Dixon, who was the fastest car pretty much all month, had the lead when the final green waved with 28 laps to go and easily held off Meira, Helio Castroneves and Marco Andretti. Andretti got past Castroneves with 10 laps to go but could not find a way past Meira and Dixon even though he was turning faster laps when he was in the clear. Andretti easily turned the fastest lap of the race at 224.037 MPH so he had the speed to win, but it was not to be once again.
Marco said his team made a crucial miscalculation on its last pit stop. They adjusted the rear wing, looking for more speed, but the No. 26 car wound up falling back in the closing laps after posting the fastest run of the day, more than 224 mph, on lap 161.
"It was a team decision to do what we did," Marco said. "OK, we missed. We messed up as a team. We finished third, got good points. Let's move on."
For Meira and his Panther Racing team the race was like a victory. No one rated them to challenge for the win all month but the team put it all together on Sunday.
Ryan Hunter-Reay was the highest finishing rookie, bringing home the Ethanol car home in 6th place. There is a good chance he will be named Rookie of the year, though Mutoh, who was the fastest qualifying rookie, finished right behind in 7th so it will be interesting to see which way the vote goes.
“This is a great finish for us,” grinned Hunter-Reay. “This year, I think the Indy 500 Rookie-of-the-Year battle meant a lot more than it has in a while because the field was so strong with so many former Champ Car drivers coming over. This time last year I was walking the paddock in other series looking for a ride and today here I am in a press conference for being the top rookie at Indy. Wow.”
At the halfway point it was Kanaan, Dixon, Marco Andretti and Dan Wheldon, who was starting to fade due to an ill-handling car. Kanaan's lead was short-lived however as first Scott Dixon and then Marco Andretti got by.
Andretti passed Kanaan on lap 106 catching Kanaan off guard. Kanaan slid up high and when he hit the marbles he skidded straight toward the wall. He bounced off the wall and Sarah Fisher, who had nowhere to go, slammed into his side. Both cars were done for the day.
Andretti led comfortably over Dixon from lap 108 until the caution for Justin Wilson on lap 132. Andretti beat Dixon out of the pits on lap 136 but rookie Mario Moraes did not pit and he was the leader of the Indy 500 for the first time in his young career.
On the lap 139 restart Dixon got the jump on Andretti and passed him for the lead as Moraes got up into the marbles and white walled his tires.
From there Dixon was at the point except for pitstops and capped off what could be characterized as a perfect month of May for the Target Chip Ganassi team.
Bruno Junqueira was the first to run into trouble when his right side mirror flew off for no apparent reason. The team had no spare mirror to replace it with so he sat in the pits for almost 15 laps while they located one.
Sarah Fisher was the first car to lose control, spinning out under caution for no apparent reason. The safety crew did get her restarted.
Rookie Graham Rahal crashed exiting turn 4 on lap 37 when he got up into the marbles. Marty Roth duplicated the same feat on lap 61 for the same reason. Both were checked in the medical center and cleared. Afterward Rahal explained what happened. “(Lloyd) was really slow and I was trying to be patient there because (Mario) Moraes kept coming down on me. So finally I got the opportunity to get by those few guys and I thought our car was pretty good. Lloyd, for some reason, wouldn’t stay right on the bottom and when he came up just a couple of feet, I reacted slightly and just got in the marbles.”
Jaime Camara got up in the marbles in Turn 1 and crashed hard into the outside wall, the car skidding all the way through Turn 2 before coming to rest on the entrance to the backstraight. Afterward Camara said "my car was understeering badly and I was having a hard time keeping it down below the marbles.
On lap 114, while under caution, Jeff Simmons lost control of his no. 41 AJ Foyt car on the front straight and smacked the outside wall. His day was done.
On lap 132 Justin Wilson lost control in Turn 1 and spun in the short chute, hitting the inside fence with the rear of the car, which broke the rear wing. His day was done.
On lap 152 rookie Alex Lloyd hit the outside wall in Turn 4 and his car then looped before crashing hard into the inside wall and then sliding down into pit lane and coming to a stop.
Others to crash included Milka Duno and Alex Lloyd as well as Ryan Briscoe and Danica Patrick who got together on pit road. Clearly Briscoe was at fault, pulling out right in front of Patrick as she exited the pits.
Winner's average speed: 143.567 mph
Time of race: 3:28:57.6792
Margin of victory: 1.7498 seconds
Cautions: 8 caution flags for 69 laps
Lead changes: 18 among 9 drivers
Lap leaders: Dixon 1-2, Wheldon 3-9, Junqueira 10-11, Rice 12-
19, Wheldon 20-35, Dixon 36-74, Wheldon 75-79, Dixon 80-91,
Wheldon 92-93, Kanaan 94-105, Dixon 106-121, Andretti 122-135,
Moraes 136-138, Andretti 139, Dixon 140-155, Carpenter 156-
158, Dixon 159, Meira 160-171, Dixon 172-200.
Point standings: Dixon 191, Castroneves 176, Wheldon 153,
Kanaan 139, Andretti 130, Patrick 122, Carpenter 120, Power
114, Mutoh 113, Servia 112.
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