Tagliani honored as Rookie of Year Conquest Racing’s Alex Tagliani was honored last night at the 2009 Indy 500 Victory Banquet. After an excellent performance on Sunday from him and his team that allowed him to move up from 33rd on the grid to 11th, Tagliani was selected as the 2009 Chase Rookie of the Year, given to the outstanding first year driver in the 2009 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. He was presented with a $25 000 bonus prize and the Chase Rookie of the Year trophy.
Tagliani joins the likes of Mario and Michael Andretti, Rick Mears, Arie Luyendyk, Nigel Mansell and fellow Canadian Jacques Villeneuve as winners of the Rookie of the Year award.
“I’m very proud to have won the Chase Rookie of the Year award for this year’s 500,” said Tagliani. “It’s something that you only get one chance at winning so it’s very special to have been chosen. It means a lot to me. It’s been a month filled with ups and downs and so much emotion and this is the perfect way to close out my first Indy 500.
“I want to thank everyone on the team because without them I wouldn’t have been able to do it. It was a great team effort all month and it feels good to be rewarded with this honor. I also want to thank ALL SPORT and BIG RED, Northlands, the Rexall Edmonton Indy, the King Tut Exhibit at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and everyone else that has supported us through the month. I will never forget my first 500. Everything I went through good and not so good has been memorable and I can’t wait to come back next year.”
Tagliani was one of five rookies competing in the 2009 Indianapolis 500 and only one of two to have taken the checkered flag and completed all 200 laps around the 2.5-mile oval. Tagliani moved up from his last place on the grid through brilliant pit stop work from his team as well as a strong run on his part, fighting with drivers such as former Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti and third place finisher Danica Patrick. The last time a driver had made up so many positions at the Indy 500 was in 2002. Tagliani’s performance also gave Conquest Racing their best finish at the Indianapolis 500.
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