Indy 500 Race Review: Foyt’s Foul Ups Edition

Sage Karam, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and Takuma Sato, A.J. Foyt Enterprises crash

Photo from motorsport.com

Veteran driver Juan Pablo Montoya from Colombia won his second Indianapolis 500 Sunday a record fifteen years after a dominating win in his first appearance at the Brickyard. That’s appropriate, as Montoya received two warnings from race control – though no penalties – for running over an air hose and blocking. The ABC commentators said something about a “rules change” regarding the pit equipment which was fitting since rules changes have been the theme of the month at IMS. That controversy wasn’t even close to AJ Foyt Racing’s performance on the sport’s grandest stage though, which was utterly pathetic.

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Photo from sports.usatoday.com

Once it finally got started, the Indy 500 proved to be an entertaining race with a remarkable thirty seven lead changes among ten different drivers. Montoya beat Power to the line by a tenth of a second, the fourth closest margin of victory in race history. It also marked the fifth year in a row there was a last lap lead change. American Charlie Kimball rounded out the podium with a strong third place finish for Ganassi while Graham Rahal was top Honda in fifth. Super sub Ryan Briscoe gained an impressive nineteen spots in James Hinchcliffe’s SPM car and finished twelfth despite spinning.

Ryan Briscoe, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda spins

Photo from motorsport.com

Both the weather and the rules tweaks made to the cars cooperated on a gorgeous day in Indy. JPM’s win was Roger Penske’s 16th Indy 500 triumph, both deserved and a bit surprising considering the month he’d endured at Indianapolis. Montoya qualified poorly in fifteenth behind two of his team mates, experienced a horrible Carburetion Day with a serious lack of speed and to top it all off  he was hit from behind by Simona de Silvestro under caution after the failed start of the race.

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Photo from examiner.com

The race was far from perfect with six cautions for forty seven laps as a ragged false start to the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 got things started poorly. AJ Foyt Racing’s third car driven by Alex Tagliani failed to roll off with the rest of the field due to a gear box issue, delaying proceedings and messing up the eleven rows of thirty three. Then as the field paraded around during an extended warm up period Hoosier Conor Daly’s SPM Honda caught fire due to a fuel leak, ending the young driver’s race before it had even begun. In a memorable moment, Daly calmly informed his crew on the radio, coolly saying “Fire – coming towards you.” It was a tough break for the likable young driver and contributed to what Scott Goodyear understatedly called a “strange beginning to this race.”

May 22, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Verizon IndyCar Series driver Conor Daly stands in the pits during Carb Day for the 2015 Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-225330 ORIG FILE ID:  20150520_pjc_ss1_382.JPG

Photo from sports.usatoday.com

Once Tags got rolling, Daly’s Honda was extinguished and the field of 32 finally took the green flag a dreaded first lap pileup occurred, thanks again to AJ Foyt Racing which needless to say didn’t have the greatest day. As many feared, Takuma Sato was in fact “dumb enough” as Ganassi’s Sage Karam put it to try three wide through turn 1, hitting both the wall and Karam and ending the young Pennsylvanian’s day.  He was visibly upset after being cleared from the infield care center, saying Sato “needs to wake up a little bit.” The already strung out and odd beginning to the race got even curiouser as the minutes ticked by.

Stefano Coletti, of Monaco, (4) hits the car driven by Sebastian Saavedra, of Colombia, as Jack Hawksworth, right, of England, hits the wall in the closing laps of the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Sunday, May 24, 2015.  (AP Photo/Kirk Stierwalt) ORG XMIT: NAA147

Photo from sports.usatoday.com

Foyt’s team didn’t merely delay the start of the 500 and then thoroughly ruin it, though. Apparently that wasn’t enough of an impact from the crew from Waller, Texas on the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. They also seriously affected the ending of the 500 too – though obviously not as contenders – with a late race crash from the third AJ Foyt Racing driver Jack Hawksworth. Sebastien Saavedra suffered a leg injury in the accident caused by Hawksworth’s spin into the wall, clipping Saavedra and collecting Stefano Coletti. This brought out the final yellow, bunched up the field and set up the thrilling final 16 lap shootout between Power, Dixon and Montoya to the checkered flag. Those three would battle it out in an epic conclusion to the race.

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Photo from bostonnewstime.com

In an ugly incident in the pits during the second half of the 500, a crewman for Dale Coyne Racing suffered a leg injury and was hospitalized after he was hit by fellow Coyne team James Davison’s car. Davison was mistakenly sent out into the path of Pippa Mann on pit road, causing a collision and his plowing into crew members. Ganassi’s Tony Kanaan ran up front most of the day until he lost it and spun into the wall late in the race. After medical clearance, TK jibed the “critics,” saying of his and other accidents “we didn’t flip this time.”

500tksportsusatodaycom

Photo from sports.usatoday.com

ABC’s pre-race was competently done by the beautiful though scary skinny Lindsey Czarniak, but it featured too much Letterman in our estimation. The four way Penske interview was interesting and in observance of Memorial Day a touching tribute to fallen soldiers nicely marked the occasion. There was that odd piece on the history of the 500 by Dario Franchitti, which was really all about Dario Franchitti it seemed, or as he strangely put it after naming a long list of winners, “me.”

darioindianapolismonthlycom

Photo from indianapolismonthly.com

Frankly the “Straight No Chaser” version of “Back Home Again in Indiana” fell flat as Jim Neighbors was sorely missed. What was that, jeans and tennis shoes? The shots from the international space station were admittedly pretty cool, however. We especially enjoyed seeing Nancy Hulman George help give the command to start engines again, as she adds some needed visual pleasantry to the affair.

nancygeorgeindynmotorspeedwaycom

Photo from indymotorspeedway.com

The broadcast itself was adequate, running the full five hours to ABC’s credit. There was one confusing part when during a green flag portion of the race they inexplicably – and confusingly as Alan Bestwick noted – showed footage of last year’s race and Scott Dixon. Goodyear had a few faux pas too, saying JPM’s “probably been hit by another car” during the embarrassing start when his smashed rear pod was hanging off the car before flying off and nearly hitting trailing traffic. Gee Scotty, ya think? Montoya took his time getting out of the car in victory lane perhaps savoring his second visit, and some of the post race quotes were notable.

Juan Montoya (on car radio): “Yes! So Bad! That’s how you do it!”

JPM post race: “This is what IndyCar’s all about. Awesome racing all the way down to the wire.”

Will Power: “Sucks to finish second.”

Scott Dixon, 4th: “I couldn’t turn the car.”

Graham Rahal, 5th: “I’m proud of this team, proud of this organization.”

Helio Castro Neves, 7th: “I had a lot of issues with the 83. Pass the baton for biggest blocker – chopping block butcher . . . absolutely insane . . . was unbelievable.”

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37 thoughts on “Indy 500 Race Review: Foyt’s Foul Ups Edition

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