Tony Kanaan wins fastest Indy 500 in history
With a good luck charm in his pocket he had given to a fan years ago and sixty-eight lead changes later, Tony Kanaan drove to victory lane to the sounds of the loudest cheers in recent Indy history - the first Indy 500 win for him, and owners Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser.
Justin Wilson rounded out the top-5 for Dale Coyne Racing.
Last year the weather was too hot for comfort. This year, it was downright chilly, starting out around 60 degrees, with a threat of rain. But, it was all good. In fact, the action was hot all day, and the only chills felt during the race were the good kind.
However, Ms. IMS had plans for Sebastian Saavedra as well, who replaced Katherine in her ride over at Dragon Racing. At about the same time Sebastian looped it, and hit the outside wall. Saavedra got out complaining loudly that Pippa Mann forced him below the white line. “Just sad man... (Pippa) is just out of control.” And then, completing the chain, on lap 46, Pippa brushed the wall after getting into a tussle on the restart. Saavedra finished 32nd, and Mann 30th.
Race control was indeed busy today, and not just with lead changes. Pippa complained loudly about driver behavior during restarts, and perhaps that had something to do with their announcement (after the pit stops for the Saavedra crash) that Graham Rahal and James Jakes were each fined $10k for “blend line violations.” Jakes got back into contention, but a later pit road speed violation set him a lap down. Rahal, on the other hand, would end a miserable day with a solo spin at the end of the race. Jakes finished 20th, and Rahal finished 25th.
Meanwhile, out on the track, Ed Carpenter was putting on a duel with most of Andretti Autosports, at least until Takuma Sato spun in turn 2. Taku didn’t make any contact, but needed a tow in, falling a lap down. Sato finished 13th, a respectable finish for the Honda crews. By this time it was painfully obvious that the Chevy guys were settling the matter for themselves, as often the entire top 10 in the field were Chevy powered. It was also obvious that the Honda guys had a bit better mileage advantage, but nowhere as great as last year.
The green flag few on lap 61, with dozens of laps of lead changes, punctuated by green flag stops. By the time the next caution came out – near the end of the race – we were looking at a record pace as well as obliterating the lead change record (previously 34, set last year). The race ended with an average speed of 187.433, but was near to 193 before the two late-race cautions.
By lap 60, Josef Newgarden was having a miserable day. Reporting back to his crew that his car was bottoming out on turn 3 – even during the cautions – he managed to keep the evil-handling car on the track and finish 28th, some 9 laps down.
On lap 75, Team Penske asserted themselves when Will Power took the lead. Helio mixed it up a bit, but the crowd cheered when AJ Allmendinger took the lead. AJ’s great day was almost ruined when he had a seat belt come loose on lap 112, causing an out of sequence pit stop. However, with green flag racing, he was in and out of the lead pack, just 8 laps off in the pit sequence. Castroneves came in 6th, Allmendinger 7th, and Power a disappointing 19th. AJ later noted that, not only did his belt come loose, but he had 2 fires during refilling in the pits.
At the halfway mark, AJ Allmendinger was leading, followed by Tony Kanaan, Ryan Hunter-Reay, EJ Viso, and Marco Andretti. Most noticeably, 11 of the top 12 were Chevy-powered cars, with only Alex Tagliani’s 9th place car showing the Honda colors.
In the mix at that point was EJ Viso, who shot into second at lap 118. Driving a good race, he was a threat to win the race until he stalled the car on a pit stop on lap 151. The car wouldn’t restart, and EJ fell nearly 1 lap down. He finished 18th, which was nowhere near as good as he would’ve been without that stall.
On lap 124, Townsend Bell took the lead, setting a new track record. And in fact Bell, who was driving something of a cautious race (he was in the lead by extending fuel mileage) was showing signs of promise. However, a loose engine cover on lap 151, followed by a brush with the wall on lap 169 which bent some important bits caused Bell to fall laps down, finishing 27th. No doubt he will have some stories to tell in the broadcast booth next time he’s behind the microphone.
On lap 178, Sebastien Bourdais lost control of the car coming into the pits for his final stop. Bourdais had been in frustrating traffic, and by his own admission had simply let it boil over coming into the pits. “I just got so pissed off in the car... I just tried too hard on pit in, probably beat the crap out of the back tires...”
However, Graham’s crash on lap 194 brought the classic “no caution, boys have at it” shootout to the end. When they re-queued the field, we hoped for a 3-lap shootout, and we got it -- the leaders went into the first turn, 3-4 wide, at least 7 cars in the pack, as the green flew. And of course, that couldn’t last, and Dario’s crash brought out the final checkered flag. However Kanaan had managed to slip by Hunter-Reay, as had Carlos Munoz when the yellow came out. And so it ended, with thunderous cheers to a very popular win by Kanaan. Hunter-Reay commented, “I knew I was a sitting duck.”
- Seven of the top ten cars were powered by Chevrolet engines. However, fast lap was set by Justin Wilson, who finished 4th, the top Honda finisher. Also in the top 10 were Simon Pagenaud and Charlie Kimball.
- Andretti Curse? Well, it’s not like the year that all of the Andretti family ended up in the local hospital at the end of the race, but having 5 cars dominate the entire day only to lose on the last lap seems... well, bad luck at least. Andretti Autosports combined for 81 laps lead.
- Ed Carpenter lead the most laps today, with 37. Tony Kanaan lead 34.
- Mon Dieu... we had 3 Frenchmen in the race today, which is the most since the 1920’s.
- Last Sunday morning, people were whispering that Ana Beatriz might not make the show. Today, she quietly soldiered on to 15th place, 7th among the Hondas.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 1 DHL Chevrolet): (About when the last caution came out): "That's just the way it works out. That was bad luck. We were leading on that last restart. I knew I was a sitting duck, and I wasn't too bummed about it because I knew we had enough laps to get it going again and have a pass back, and maybe I would be third on the last lap, which is where I wanted to be, and it didn't work out that way. There was a crash in Turn 1, and the race ended. It's unfortunate. Big congratulations to Tony Kanaan, though. He has been there so many times, had bad luck and for whatever reason the race has alluded him. Great champion, certainly deserves it. But man, am I disappointed. I think the DHL No. 1 Chevy was the car to beat today. Had we been at the right place at the right time, I'm confident we would have won it, and that's just the way this place goes." (About the pace of the race): "Yeah, it was great the whole day. We just worked with our teammates, and I worked with a bunch of guys you can trust racing around, you know, so that was a lot of fun. But man those last few laps, Michael (Andretti) coming on the radio saying, ‘Seven to go,’ and I'm like: ‘This is our day, we have to make it happen,’ and then the yellow came out. I couldn't believe it. We had some lap traffic coming up. Had I got to that lap traffic, we were one of the stronger cars in a big group. Unfortunate, but it works out that way. This entire Andretti Autosport team did a great job all month. Thanks to all the fans for coming out, and congratulations to TK.”
CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 Unistraw Chevrolet): "I really wanted to fight for the win. Maybe I could win. Maybe not, but I really wanted to fight. I have nothing to be ashamed of. To be second and a rookie and the best of the team is a great job. At the beginning I was a little bit nervous with the pit stops, but in the end, the car was great, and it's a good second place. Hopefully in the future, I will be able to drink milk. Right now I'm thirsty, but hopefully it's in the future for me." (Do you wonder what would have happened if the race stayed green?): "It's racing. You don't know what could have been. I think I had a great car and a great shot to overtake (Tony Kanaan) on the front straight. But you never know. He did a great job."
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet): “I just got loose, and I was trying to stay on the outside while giving (James Hinchcliffe) enough room to pull out. I just got loose and saved it once. But couldn't save it twice, and at that point, it just went around. I feel terrible for the guys. We worked really hard on having a race car that we thought we could run up to the front with. We needed to get through the first stint to see that happen. I'm not sure, given the situation, there was much I was going be able to do at that point. It's so unfortunate, obviously here on Memorial Day weekend with the National Guard. We were set up for a good day. Just really disappointed.”
BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Spirit of Oklahoma Chevrolet): “On that first fuel stint, we got low on fuel and lost fuel pressure, and we could never get it back. It was something electronic or mechanical; we can’t tell for sure. It was missing bad enough that you can’t run the speed to stay out there. And it was only getting worse and we wanted to keep it from getting expensive. My frustration came when the field came by the second time when I was sitting in the pits. You know what that means. I’ve been around long enough to know you’re just not going to make up four laps. The car was actually very good in the first stint. We had a little miscommunication on the first pit in, but that didn’t hurt. It’s easy to say now, but I really think we would have had a good car around the fifth stint of the seven to 12 stints you can do. I think the car would have been really good at the end. I was actually very pleased with the way it was coming to me. It’s incredibly frustrating, but I can’t blame anyone. The crew has worked incredibly hard after getting a late start. Whatever went wrong, we’re going to learn from it and make sure it never happens again. I hope like hell to come back and race here again, and to come back with a full effort. It was great to be back, but I tell you, I’m here to race, the juices were flowing, I had a decent race car and I felt like by the end of the event, we would really be able to get with it. ”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Shell V-Power/Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske Chevrolet): “The Shell V-Power/Pennzoil/Ultra was running smooth like a Swiss watch. It was very nice. A lot of people (other drivers) behaved, so it was great. The race actually went really fast. Congrats to Tony (Kanaan). He got his win. It was well-deserved. He did a great job. It was a very safe race. I was just having issues with the (rev) limiter. I was trying to pass a lot of people, but unfortunately it was hitting the limiter. That was one of those things. My pit stops were awesome. Great job. Great weather. Awesome crowd. We finished top six, which is great championship-wise for points, and that is what we are looking for, as well. When you don’t win, you have to look on the positive side, and that is the championship.”
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “We were all upon each other. It was incredibly tough. We had a very good car, but when we got back in traffic, we started to struggle a little bit. Unfortunately, we had a fuel problem and had to come back in, and that cost us a bunch of positions. But that is racing. Congrats to TK (Tony Kanaan). He’s been after it for a long time. He won a tough one.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 GoDaddy Chevrolet): “It was a bad day all around. I feel bad for my teammates. They were running right at the front there, and that yellow may have cost them a chance at the win. There’s nothing really to say about our day. It was a non-factor. We were a non-event. I’m really disappointed. There was something that was making us slow. The car was handling fine. The engineers did a good job. The guys were smoking in the pit stops. But in a race where first through 20th were all on the same straightaway, if you’ve got something that’s making you a tiny bit slow in a straight line, you’re done. It was 500 long miles, and I’m pretty embarrassed with our performance.”
PIPPA MANN (No. 63 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “I’m furious over Race Control and Graham Rahal. Everybody around me was racing under the yellow for position. I tried to go around Graham on green and brushed the wall. What happened out there was a really big shame. The Cyclops Gear was really fast, and we were moving up through the field fairly nicely. Under the yellow flag period, a lot of cars pitted and then stood on the gas after the blend line on pit lane exit, and blended in front of me when they shouldn’t have been there. I was told to re-take my position, which I tried to do, and then there was some very aggressive re-passing going on under yellows, with cars that were meant to be lined up behind me. Graham Rahal was one of them, and I’ve since heard that he’s been fined by Race Control, but regardless, he was in front of me on the restart. I caught him a couple of laps later as he was moving around in front of me, and I made a rookie mistake in his dirty air and hit the wall. I’m pretty frustrated right now – for sure with myself, but also with Race Control and Graham, too. There was also an incident earlier in the race, and I know Sebastian (Saavedra) is really furious at me right now. It’s so unfortunate. I was just trying to avoid Buddy Lazier in front of me. I don’t know why, but he (Lazier) was off the pace in between Turns 3 and 4, and to avoid hitting him I had to stand on the brakes. I very nearly lost my car because of that, and then I looked in my mirrors and saw Sebastian spinning. I feel incredibly bad for him and his crew, and for the work they will subsequently have to do.”
ANA BEATRIZ (No. 18 Ipiranga Honda): “It was a hard race. I had some good catches out there. The car was great; it was the best car I’ve ever had here. We lost a little bit on pit stops. The last one really hurt us. That’s when my teammate (Justin Wilson) went to the front, and he stayed there. You had to be at the right place at the right time today. The team did a great job, and I’m so happy with everything.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Honda): "It was really fast out there today. The cool temperatures helped a lot. The line got pretty narrow on those long runs. I drove lower than I did all month just to make it through the corners. The wind off (Turn) 2 picked up, too. We had to figure out a misfire with a little electrical issue. I was able to get the information to the guys on the stand. They figured it out and got it back to me and made some adjustments in the cockpit. From there, it cleaned up, and we could go racing."
JAMES JAKES (No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts Honda): "It was a pretty good day. Early on, we led a couple laps, had fastest lap and had it going on pretty early. Unfortunately, I made a mistake coming into the pits. I forgot to reset the weight jacker and took out the crew. Then I had a drive-through (penalty). There wasn't a caution from then on, so our day was kind of set then. It is frustrating for the 16 car because we had a great car early on and couldn’t capitalize on it.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 25 RC Cola Chevrolet): “When we stopped for the trim adjustment, we were in the worst-case scenario. We got stuck behind some teammates. It was fun for a while, but we just got shuffled back. I knew it was going to come down to that at the end.”
KATHERINE LEGGE (No. 81 Angie’s List Schmidt Peterson Pelfrey Honda): “We had an awesome car; the Angie’s List car was great. The team did such a fantastic job. I can’t thank them enough. We had a little bit of a problem when somebody kind of moved up on us, and I touched the wall. Then we had to replace the toe link, and we were seven laps down from the beginning. It was unfortunate because I spent the rest of the race moving out of everybody else’s way. The car was fast, and we brought the car home in one piece, so I guess we should be very happy about that. The car was good in traffic. I really had a possible top-10 car.”
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 98 Barracuda Racing Honda): “I got on the outside, and I touched the gray and the car slid. When you do a lot of laps, the marbles accumulate, and I touched the marbles and I tagged the wall with the rear a bit – just enough to bend the suspension, and we had to change it. We lost a bunch of laps. It’s a shame for the Barracuda Racing team. I think the car was really, really good. I don’t think we ever had the chance to showcase what the car was capable of doing. But we were biding our time. It’s just frustrating. I’m still very proud of the Barracuda Bowers & Wilkins racing team. Overall, it was a good Month of May. But again we just got involved in something you’re trying to avoid here at the ‘500.’”
E.J. VISO (No. 5 Team Venezuela PDVSA Citgo Chevrolet): “Being with this team means a lot. We were able to be in the top five the first three-quarters of the race. It was amazing running with those guys. It is the way I should be running all of the time. I made a mistake in the pits. I selected neutral too fast and stalled the engine. That pretty much ruined our race. We were hoping for a yellow the last part of the race. I am happy for the team. We have a strong car, and this year is going to be a good year for us.”
TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): “It was a difficult spin for us. It was lucky we saved it, but our problem all day was with the grip. We had big problems with that.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Midas/Big O Tires Honda): “We had a pretty good day. Unfortunately there was one pit stop that was absolutely terrible. After fighting from 26th up to ninth, or wherever we were at that point, I think we probably lost another six or seven positions on that stop so we put ourselves in a bad spot and tried to gamble a little bit on the last stint and pit early in the hope that maybe we would catch a yellow, or there would be something like that. To be totally honest with you, the car all day was a bit neutral, a bit nervous. I tried to keep adjusting it and had several massive snaps, so I’m surprised we made it that far. The guys worked awfully hard, so I’m obviously pretty bummed for the team and for Midas. I told dad the lap before, ‘This thing is getting really loose.’ I tried to hold on to it, but I was fully off the throttle, and that was it. I was probably pushing too hard to make up some spots, and it snapped sideways in Turn 2. I tried to save it, and it didn’t come back, unfortunately. I thought it was a great race. We geared too short, so I don’t think there was any way we could win today, anyway. I couldn’t pass anybody. I would get in a big tow, and I would pull up and just stop. We didn’t have enough sixth gear in the thing. But that’s the way it is. Sometimes you miss it. We’ll come back next year and do a better job.”
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka/Ed Carpenter Chevrolet Racing): “We had a good car. It was a tough race. It was so competitive. If you make one little mistake, then you would get shuffled back. We were a little conservative early and didn’t have the right amount of downforce compared to some guys, and that did us in the end. But that was the strategy we went with, and it didn’t work out. Overall, I am very happy for the team and the month we had. Today, in this moment, 10th is not what we came here for. But, in the big scheme of things, it is something to be happy about. I thought I was going to get it back the whole time. And that is what I am disappointed with. It was just a tough race – a great field of cars. We could have just made a couple of different decisions that could have changed the outcome. But I’m to blame for that. We probably thought we were a little bit better than we were, and at the end we just didn’t have what it took.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I was kind of at the back of it (pack of lead lap cars) most of the time; just problems after problems, really. The car speed-wise, I think, was OK early on in the race. I thought we’d be looking pretty decent, and then we plain ran out of gear. We couldn’t pass anybody. I’d get to the back of them, then I’d be on the (rev) limiter. I couldn’t go anywhere. It’s just one of those days. We tried seeing if we could put some downforce in to see if we could just get closer and see if some of the cars go off if the day got a bit hotter. But that didn’t work out, either. Then we lost the left paddle, so I couldn’t downshift. I think we just missed on gears a little bit. There’s such a tow when you’re behind somebody. When you’re out front by yourself, it’s something totally different. It’s just part of it.”
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “Sums up our day. Our car was never really good all day. In traffic, we couldn’t make anything happen. It was loose in the middle, big understeer. The guys tried something, and we didn’t take tires. I was just going backward, sliding around on those old tires. I went into the first corner on the last restart, and it just didn’t turn and then the hit. The big, old hit. When I saw who was leading (Kanaan), it cheered me up a little bit. Great, just phenomenal that Tony won. We had a crap day. We were never in contention ,but I’m just so happy he won. He’s a very, very deserving winner.”
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 22 Panther DRR Chevrolet): “We had a much better car than 11th. It was just hard to make adjustments and get to the front. Dario and Dixon had good cars, too, but no yellows, so no re-starts. It was just a hard one today. The car was good; everybody out there was good. It was just a question of getting to the front, but that was very difficult.”
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 8 NTT DATA Honda): “We were hoping for a little bit better of a result today. I think it really came down to a case of track position, and we were never able to make a jump to the front of the field. It was such a quick race. There wasn’t much alternative strategy going on where we could do something different. Being where we were, we had some good runs, and we were having some good battles. It’s just, if we would have been able to get to the front, we would have raced harder at the front, and we were never able to get there.”
CONOR DALY (No. 41 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): ): “It was tough. Once you get behind, it’s so tough to get behind because it makes it difficult to get back to the front. I was pretty happy with the car. After the first stop, we lost the rear brakes. I could not stop the car coming into pit lane, which made it extremely difficult. We caught fire twice. After catching on fire twice and having no rear brakes, I think we did OK. This race is awesome. To finish 22nd after starting 31st, I’m pretty happy with that.”
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 6 Dragon Racing Chevrolet): “It's sad the way the month had to finish. I have had amazing support from all of my sponsors, TrueCar, and the No. 6 crew. We had an amazing car that was drilling its way from the back to the front. Unfortunately, circumstances happen that come out of your hands and destroyed our chances of showing our true potential today. Something needs to be done to help prevent these kinds of situations from happening. I want to thank my team again for all of their hard work they put into giving me a fast car.”
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda): “We were able to run as high as fourth at some point. I wish I would have been there at the end. I could have been more aggressive. I’m very happy with this. The Schmidt Peterson team was awesome. The engine also was fantastic. It was a great recovery from 21 (starting position). It’s a short race, and you have to be so aggressive for 200 laps. Sometimes it was a bit hairy on some race restarts. I adjusted to balance for what we needed at the end of the race. We expected a fast race. The air density was so strong, so we could run less downforce. We were on our toes every lap. I feel tired now. You had to be very smart with your timing to make a pass. The crew worked hard day and night. I was very comfortable. I have more confidence, and I have a baseline setup for next year.”
TOWNSEND BELL (No. 60 Sunoco “Turbo” Panther Racing Chevrolet): “It was a tough day for us. I knew it was going to be super-competitive, and it was. I passed a few guys on the start, lost some ground on the first. I think we worked our way up there. Then the engine cover came loose, and it started messing with the balance.”
TRISTAN VAUTIER (No. 55 Lucas Oil/Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): "It was a good race. We had a very good first stint, made a lot of progress, and unfortunately for some reason the tire pressures and some other stuff needed to be changed. Nothing major, though, and halfway through, the car started vibrating and getting very loose. We were just happy to make up space on the second half of the race. I finished my first Indy 500, so I'm very happy. Big thanks to my team. All of the pit stops were perfect.”
Winner's average speed: 187.433
Time of Race: 02:40:03.4181
Margin of victory: Under Caution
Cautions: 5 for 21 laps
Lead changes: 68 among 14 drivers
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