Texas-born Ryan Hunter-Reay has become the first American winner of the Indianapolis 500 since 2006. Calling the victory “a dream come true,” Hunter-Reay held off three-time winner Helio Castroneves to take the checkered flag Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The winning margin of .06 of a second is the second-closest finish in the history of the Indy 500. May 25, 2014
INDIANAPOLIS (May 25, 2014)– Ryan Hunter-Reay was denied a shot at a final-lap victory in the 2013 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race because of a yellow flag for a single-car incident in Turn 1. Third place was his career high in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” but the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., resident wanted more.
A similar situation materialized in the 98th edition, but this time Hunter-Reay was the one drinking the milk in Victory Circle.
Hunter-Reay, driving the No. 28 DHL car for Andretti Autosport, held off three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves by a hair-raising .0600 of a second — the second-closest margin of victory in the history of the event — in a six-lap shootout to claim his first Indy 500 victory. Marco Andretti finished .3171 of a second back for his third third-place finish in nine starts.
“It's a dream come true,” said Hunter-Reay, who is the first American winner since Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006. “This (race) is American history; this is better than a championship. I hope the fans loved it because I was on the edge of my seat.”
Hunter-Reay started 19th. There were 34 lead changes among 11 drivers.
Castroneves overtook Hunter-Reay in Turn 1 on Lap 199 of 200 entering Turn 1, but Hunter-Reay led at the finish line by .0235 of a second.
“I did everything I could do,” said Castroneves, driving the No. 3 Pennzoil Ultra Platinum Team Penske car. “What a fight.”
Carlos Munoz, who finished second last year as a rookie, finished fourth, and 2000 Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya was fifth. Kurt Busch, who had 600 more miles of racing left in North Carolina, placed sixth in his first Indy car race.
Race officials red-flagged the race on Lap 192 for seven minutes to fix the Turn 2 SAFER Barrier and clean up from the single-car incident involving Townsend Bell's No. 6 Robert Graham KV Racing Technology entry. Bell had been running fifth — 1.8 seconds behind Hunter-Reay.
The first caution flag flew on Lap 150 when the No. 83 car driven by Charlie Kimball made light contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2. The record for longest stretch before a first yellow flag had previously been set at 65 laps in 2000. The four yellow flags tied the record for fewest (1990); the Speedway started recording cautions in 1976.
Graham Rahal was the first to retire from the race with an electrical issue in the No. 15 entry. Tony Kanaan, who won the race in 2013, developed an early suspension issue and finished 26th.
Round 6 and 7 of the Verizon IndyCar Series will be telecast live on ABC May 31 and June 1 for the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix — both races at 3:30 p.m. (ET).
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “It's a dream come true man. I can't even believe it. I don't know. This is just the most fantastic team for what they've given me. My dream has come true today and I'm a proud American boy, that's for sure. (Q: tell us about passing and repassing Helio)
“There was no practice for it. We never really ran those lines at all the whole month and that was all new. Everything everybody was doing at the end was all new. I didn't know if we had what it took but I've got the best team behind me. Nobody can stand on their own without a good team behind them.”
(Q: Beccy said last night you were very confident?) “I knew we had a good race car. We didn't qualify well but we (did) bring it to the front. This is just a dream come true. I've watched this race since I was in diapers sitting on the floor in front of the TV. My son did it today. He watched me here. I'm thrilled. This is an American tradition, our auto industry is based on it…” (Q: What will you cherish most about winning the Indy 500) “Having my family here with me and being with this bunch. This is my fifth year in Andretti Auto Sport. I have such a great team. They were behind me every step of the way and you know what? It went green the whole way and I love that. Winning it under green like that with just a fantastic finish, we all raced each other clean but really hard. I think that was a fantastic race. I hope the fans loved it because I was on the edge of my seat that's for sure.”
BECCY HUNTER-REAY (Wife of Ryan Hunter-Reay): “Oh my god when lap 199 came I was like no, no, no, no you just gotta get this! We just won the Indy 500. He deserves it so much. I can't wait to get my little guy down there.”(Q: he had one of the most aggressive moves of the race. What was going through your mind?”)”I knew he was going to do whatever it took to win this one. I've got to go drink milk.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 25 Snapple Honda): “Yeah, I mean, close but we never really dominated. You could say that Ryan and Helio did. The only way we had a shot is if those two got together. They were putting so many blocks on me that there was nothing I could do. Every time we got to the front, we got shuffled back. I think we did what we could, but congrats to Ryan, he almost took me out in Turn 3 — I almost crashed. I think if it wasn't for the Indy 500, I was going to be pretty mad at Ryan, but it is for the Indy 500 and he's up there and I'm not. This is as competitive as IndyCar has ever been. I don't care what anyone has to say. We were close, but we never really dominated. Every time we got to the front we got shuffled back. I think we did what we could, but congrats to Ryan (Hunter-Reay). He almost took me out in Turn 3. I almost crashed.” (On the intensity of the battles on the track): “I think if it wasn't for the Indy 500, I would be pretty mad at Ryan. But it is for the Indy 500. He's up there and I'm not, so what are you going to say? I think this is as competitive as IndyCar has ever been, I don't care what anybody has to say.””
MIKHAIL ALESHIN (No. 7 SMP Racing Honda): “I was very upset that we had a mechanical issue, because our car had a great pace. We were racing Bourdais and Wilson early on, and I was very competitive with them. They finished in the top-10, so I'm very disappointed I wasn't able to race them at the end. Being off of the lead lap ruined our day, but I still gained valuable experience since this was my first oval race. The crowd was so much larger than I expected, but it would have been nicer to get a result that reflected our true ability in front of them.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Chevrolet): “All of a sudden, it just started to slide mid-pack (mid-apex). I tried to catch it and there was no catching it. I feel really bad for the guys. We had a pretty strong car all day. I think Ed really looked like the one to be beat. He crashed too, so it could be anybody. I'm just bummed for Team Target, Chip, and everybody on the team.”
(Asked about the cautions happening after so many laps) “It's what's going to happen, so hopefully everybody stays safe out there and everyone enjoys the race.” (Asked if he's fine after crash) “Yeah, just slapped my hand a little bit. Nothing too much.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Chevrolet): “It's tough really. Our day was pretty much over before it started with the issues we had on pit lane. When you go that many laps down you simply cannot recover. I always say this place chooses the winner and unfortunately today she didn't choose us.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda):”You know, it could have been the last restart and you have to go for it. Ed gave me the room initially. I honestly don't think Townsend (Bell) knew we were three-wide. I haven't seen the replay yet, but from what I saw Townsend came down into Ed, who came down into me. I was the l