Juan Pablo Montoya has taken his second victory at the Indy 500 as he won the 99th running of the great race by the slimmest of margins.
The Team Penske driver in the Verizon IndyCar Series left it to the penultimate lap to take the lead when it mattered as he got the better of his Penske team mate Will Power after a late caution period for a three car crash.
The crash, involving Stefano Coletti, Jack Hawksworth and Sebastian Saavedra saw the latter two drivers hitting the wall and spearing across track – leaving Coletti with nowhere to go. Indeed that was finally the last of many incidents in an Indy 500 that definitely won’t go down as a classic.
However, it did set up a 15 lap dash for the traditional pint of milk and a place in Indy folklore with a breakaway trio of Montoya, Power and Target Chip Ganassi’s Scott Dixon. They traded the lead for a time before Montoya charged ahead from third place – taking Charlie Kimball with him, the Canadian eventually finished in third at the expense of Dixon.
Before I get too carried away with the end of the race, lets go back to the start and the first retiree was declared before the race even saw the green flag.
That was Conor Daly, the young man was no doubt looking forward to the race but as Jeff Gordon set off in the pace car billowing smoke was all that could be seen from Daly’s Dale Coyne Racing machine.
As the green flag flew, it wasn’t long before it was immediately replaced with a yellow one as Sage Karam hit the wall at turn one after contact with Takuma Sato, while Ryan Briscoe also got tangled up in contact with James Davison, but thankfully all bar Karam managed to carry on.
In the long wait before the restart finally happened, Montoya had to pit twice to repair rear end damage after contact from Simona De Silvestro, Putting him right at the back of the field.
When the restart finally happened, Tony Kanaan in the NTT Data Ganassi Racing Chevrolet took five laps to move from fourth place into the lead, taking in Power, Simon Pagenaud, and Dixon before finding himself at the head of the pack.
The green flag running lasted roughly 30 minutes until Bryan Clauson got too high and hit the wall, not a major incident but ended his race early nonetheless.
As with the majority of these caution periods, much of the field took the opportunity to pit under the full course caution. Unfortunately, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Justin Wilson pitted one lap before the incident so lost out on a lot of time overall.
On the restart, Kanaan managed to lead a pack of Penske and Ganassi cars around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with Dixon, Pagenaud and Power all in close proximity.
With some major sense of De Ja Vu, 30 minutes later the track went all mellow yellow with yet another crash. This time Ed Carpenter went for a daring lunge down the inside of Oriol Servia at turn one, but went too low and spun – clipping the Spaniard and sending them both into retirement.
Unfortunately, incidents even occur under caution periods at the Indy 500 and one happened in the pit lane. Davison was released from his pit box into the path of Pippa Mann, while taking avoiding action he hit the back of his Dale Coyne Racing team-mate Tristan Vautier – who was sitting innocently in his own pit box – as well as two members of Vautier’s pit crew who were carted off in an ambulance.
After a number of clean laps, a car hit the wall and proved to all and sundry that even the best of us can have a snap of bad luck every once in a while as Kanaan’s car suddenly got away from him and he crashed rear first into the wall.
Thankfully that was only a short caution period, but it didn’t take long for the yellow to be back out again for the incident involving Hawksworth, Coletti and Saavedra.
All those incidents were avoided by Montoya – an achievement in itself – and the fact the Power, Kimball and Dixon all finished within one second after 200 laps of attrition is a testament to their driving ability and proved themselves worthy winners/podium finishers/unlucky fourth placers.
Montoya’s second Indy 500 win comes fifteen years after his first, the longest ever gap between victories, and came despite the Colombian only leading nine laps during the race, the third fewest by any Indy 500 winner.
Montoya told Autosport.com after the race: “That was fun, I knew I had a good car when I came through the field. But that fight at the end was hard! Awesome. I’m looking for the words, this is too much.”
Fifth place was Graham Rahal after a race of dodging potential accidents with Marco Andretti sixth, Helio Castroneves seventh, the Brazilian having battled for the lead early on, and JR Hildebrand eighth. Josef Newgarden and Pagenaud finished ninth and tenth respectively.
Briscoe and Sato recovered from their dramas to take twelfth and thirteenth respectively behind Sebastien Bourdais, while Hunter-Reay’s defence of the crown ended with a subdued run to fifteenth in his DHL Honda.