Rookie Rossi Wins 100th Indy 500

Rookie Rossi Wins 100th Indy 500

- in Indianapolis Motor Speedway
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Alexander Rossi celebrates with milk in victory lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. [Andy Clary Photo]Alexander Rossi celebrates with milk in victory lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. [Andy Clary Photo]

 

by John Wiedemann

Speedway, IN – Coasting on fumes, fast rookie driver Alexander Rossi saved enough fuel over the final run to outlast his teammate and win the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

With not enough fuel to get to victory lane, Rossi ran the final 36 laps of the race as his competitors including teammate Carlos Munoz were forced to pit for fuel in the closing laps of the historic race.

“I have no idea how we pulled that off,” said Rossi in victory lane.  “Brian (Herta) came up with an unbelievable strategy.  At one point we were 33rd and we rolled the dice and made it happen, I’m at a loss for words.”

Rossi’s win completed a numerologist streak of a rookie winning the first Indianapolis 500, the 50th and now the 100th running of the race.

The fuel strategy by Co-owner and race strategist of the winning car Bryan Herta was set as Rossi drafted with teammates Townsend Bell and Ryan Hunter-Reay to save fuel for the end.

“It’s one thing to have a plan and another thing to execute it,” said Herta as he praised his rookie driver.

With seven lead changes in the opening ten laps between polesitter James Hinchcliffe and 2012 Indianapolis 500 winner Hunter-Reay, the tone was set early for an entertaining 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Thirteen drivers took their turns leading the pack, including Rossi who on lap 122 led his first lap of fourteen in the race after not pitting during an earlier caution.  Action was constant at the front of the pack with the front runners exchanging the lead often by drafting past each other equaling 54 lead changes, the second most in the history of the race.

Hunter-Reay was often at the front throughout the first half of the race, but luck was not with the previous winner as he was involved in a pit road wreck when his teammate, Bell, bounced off Helio Castroneves and rolled into the pitwall, collecting Hunter-Reay.  Both drivers were out of the race but never in contention again.

Luck seemed to elude many leaders and Castroneves was no different.  Racing with JR Hildebrand, Castroneves sustained damage to his rear wing and wheel pod.  A little fortune came his way when Castroneves was able to fix the damage in a following caution, but Castroneves run at the front and shot at winning his fourth Indianapolis 500 was done.

Late in the race, the battle pitted young guns Josef Newgarden and Munoz and veteran Tony Kanaan in a battle at the front.  Kanaan led just after the final restart but Newgarden chased him down in ten laps and the two exchanged the lead three times before Newgarden took control of the race.

Then it was Munoz’s turn as he chased down and took the lead away from Newgarden with six laps remaining in the race.  But both of those leaders needed to pit for fuel and that is where the drama came in.

Rossi inherited the lead over his Andretti Autosport teammate Munoz by just under 17 seconds with two laps to go.

Conserving and running out of fuel on those final laps, Rossi crossed the yard of bricks with a final lap average of 179.784mph to beat Munoz to the checkers by 4.4975 seconds.

“I was really disappointed when it comes with fuel and you lose the race because of that,” said a frustrated Munoz.  “I was really disappointed to get second, half a lap short.  But this is racing.  We have to congratulate him (Rossi).  I’m happy for the team, one and two Andretti, one and two Honda.  I’m just really sad and disappointed.”

“It’s really heartbreaking, to be honest. I think we had a car to win,” said third place finisher Newgarden.  “I wish we could have raced those guys straight up at the end.  I really think we would have had something for them if we could have gone flat out there at the end and tried to beat them straight up.  The way the fuel played out, we didn’t have an opportunity to do that.”

Kanaan crossed the yard of bricks in the fourth position and last years’ third place finisher Charlie Kimball completing the top five.

JR Hildebrand finished sixth after a great run up front which included leading 9999 laps in the late in the race.  Polesitter Hinchcliffe completed the race in seventh after he was unable to sustain his strong run from the first half of the race.  Castroneves needed to stop for fuel late in the race and coupled with the earlier damage repair relegated the former winner to eleventh.

Two time winner and defending Indianapolis 500 champion, Juan Pablo Montoya spun in turn two and made contact with the outside wall on lap 64, ending his bid for a third victory with a 33rd place finish.

The youngest driver in the field, 21 year old Sage Karam, made hard contact with the turn one and turn two walls after battling for in the top five with Bell on the 93rd lap of the race.  Bell and Karam drove into turn one side by side with Karam, on the outside, losing traction and rocketing into the outside wall, ending his day.
100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race Results
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Results Sunday of the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race presented by PennGrade Motor Oil Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1.  (11) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 200, Running
2.  (5) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 200, Running
3.  (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 200, Running
4.  (18) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 200, Running
5.  (16) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 200, Running
6.  (15) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 200, Running
7.  (1) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 200, Running
8.  (13) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 200, Running
9.  (19) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 200, Running
10.  (6) Will Power, Chevrolet, 200, Running
11.  (9) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 200, Running
12.  (10) Oriol Servia, Honda, 200, Running
13.  (14) Marco Andretti, Honda, 200, Running
14.  (26) Graham Rahal, Honda, 200, Running
15.  (22) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 200, Running
16.  (31) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 200, Running
17.  (33) Alex Tagliani, Honda, 200, Running
18.  (25) Pippa Mann, Honda, 199, Running
19.  (8) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 199, Running
20.  (21) Gabby Chaves, Honda, 199, Running
21.  (4) Townsend Bell, Honda, 199, Running
22.  (27) Matt Brabham, Chevrolet, 199, Running
23.  (28) Bryan Clauson, Honda, 198, Running
24.  (3) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 198, Running
25.  (29) Spencer Pigot, Honda, 195, Running
26.  (12) Takuma Sato, Honda, 163, Contact
27.  (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 126, Contact
28.  (30) Stefan Wilson, Chevrolet, 119, Electrical
29.  (24) Conor Daly, Honda, 115, Contact
30.  (32) Buddy Lazier, Chevrolet, 100, Mechanical
31.  (20) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 98, Mechanical
32.  (23) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 93, Contact
33.  (17) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 63, Contact

Race Statistics
Winners average speed:  166.634
Time of Race: 3:00:02.0872
Margin of victory: 4.4975 seconds
Cautions: 6 for  46 laps
Lead changes: 54 among 13 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Hunter-Reay 1 – 2
Hinchcliffe 3
Hunter-Reay 4
Hinchcliffe 5
Hunter-Reay 6 – 8
Hinchcliffe 9
Hunter-Reay 10
Hinchcliffe 11
Hunter-Reay 12 – 13
Hinchcliffe 14 – 16
Hunter-Reay 17
Hinchcliffe 18 – 23
Hunter-Reay 24 – 27
Newgarden 28 – 29
Munoz 30
Karam 31 – 32
Hunter-Reay 33 – 41
Bell 42 – 48
Hunter-Reay 49 – 56
Bell 57
Hunter-Reay 58
Hinchcliffe 59 – 60
Hunter-Reay 61 – 66
Power 67 – 74
Hinchcliffe 75 – 77
Hunter-Reay 78 – 80
Hinchcliffe 81 – 84
Hunter-Reay 85 – 87
Hinchcliffe 88 – 91
Castroneves 92 – 96
Clauson 97 – 99
Castroneves 100 – 103
Hunter-Reay 104 – 108
Kanaan 109
Hunter-Reay 110 – 112
Bell 113 – 116
Tagliani 117 – 121
Rossi 122
Tagliani 123 – 128
Rossi 129 – 137
Castroneves 138 -148
Munoz 149 – 153
Castroneves 154 -157
Kanaan 158 – 160
Hinchcliffe 161
Kanaan 162 – 163
Hildebrand 164 – 167
Kanaan 168 – 178
Newgarden 179 – 181
Kanaan 182 – 183
Newgarden 184 – 190
Munoz 191
Newgarden 192 – 193
Munoz 194 – 196
Rossi 197 – 200

Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: 1. Pagenaud 292, Dixon 235, Castroneves 224, Newgarden 211, Hinchcliffe 205, Rossi 203, Munoz 199, Kanaan 192, Kimball 189, Montoya 187.

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