As Good As It Gets
The last fifteen laps of the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 provided as good of racing as I’ve ever seen – and I’ve seen a lot of racing in my lifetime. The Top Four at that point consisted of Scott Dixon, Will Power, Charlie Kimball and Juan Montoya. The four of them jockeyed for position and you really had no idea who was going to win. I was assuming Kimball would be content to finish fourth, but he raced his teammate and earned a strong third place finish.
For about the last five or six laps, it became obvious that the race was going to come down to Will Power and Juan Montoya, although they had swapped the lead back and forth since Lap 188. On the last lap, Power was chasing Montoya as they went down the backstretch. As they approached Turn Three, they came upon a slow car. You that watched the race on television probably know who it was. I do not. Had it not been for that car, there might possibly have been a different outcome. But Juan Montoya earned a thrilling victory over his teammate. Montoya’s record in his three Indianapolis 500’s is first, fifth and first. Not too shabby. I’m not sure, but I suspect Montoya also set a record for the number of years between victories (2000-2015)
The hand-wringing by many was wasted energy. There were no flying cars. No drivers were seriously injured. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for crew-members. There were two Coyne crewmembers injured in a pit mishap along with one from Bryan Herta Autosport.
That doesn’t mean the race was accident-free. The problems started before the green flag dropped. Alex Tagliani had problems getting his car fired at the command to start engines. About the time he got going and tried to join the field, Conor Daly had fire appear at the rear of his “Fueled by Bacon” Smithfield sponsored car (insert punchline here). Daly’s day literally ended before it began.
The at the drop of the green flag, the field couldn’t even get through the first turn before Sage Karam and Takuma Sato tangled. The crash also involved Ryan Briscoe and James Davison. Pippa Mann appeared to lock up her brakes and had to pit for new tires. All the cars were able to continue after repairs, except for Karam. His day was done.
Before the field could take the green flag, Simona de Silvestro got together with Montoya and damaged his rear bodywork. When Montoya rejoined the race after his repairs, he was in thirtieth place, which makes his victory all the more impressive.
The race opened with twelve laps of caution before there was any green flag racing beyond the first turn of the first lap. When it finally flew, the race stayed green until Lap 64 when Bryan Clauson slapped the Turn Four wall. We saw what was left of Clauson’s car after the race. The floor of the car had a huge split in the undertray where it had sustained damage. It was a nasty hit.
From there it stayed green until Lap113, when Ed carpenter and Oriol Servia got together in Turn One. That’s one we had a clear view of from our seats. It looked extremely violent in person and I was very glad to see both of them get out of their respective cars under their own power. Then Tony Kanaan, who I really thought was going to win the thing, inexplicably crashed soon after a pit stop.
The final crash was the worst. It involved Stefano Coletti, Jack Hawksworth and Sebastian Saavedra. Once they got going again, it set the stage for some of the best fifteen laps of racing I’ve seen here.
Unlike last year, the yellows were spaced well. You never want to see accidents, but if you have them – you want them to be pretty evenly spaced.
Overall, I thought it was a very good race. Dixon appeared to be the class of the field at first, but then others emerged. It was very compelling as it set up for a great ending.
Congratulations to Juan Montoya on his second victory, and Roger Penske on his sixteenth.
I will have my normal “Random Thoughts” here tomorrow. Please check back then.