Indy 500 Race Review: The Pagenaud Show

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Simon Pagenaud became the first Frenchman in ninety nine years to win the Indy 500 on Sunday, retaking the lead from Andretti Autosport’s former 500 winner Alex Rossi with two laps to go. In his 50 years at IMS, Roger Penske now owns eighteen 500 victories, winning 36% of all he’s entered.

Mike Tirico actually mentioned the word patriotism during the pre-race show, which was nice to hear on Memorial Day weekend, though frankly we could have done without Dale, Jr.’s dim-witted drawling. Same goes for Danica – and Lance Armstrong, for goodness’ sake. At times during the broadcast it seemed almost like the NASCAR Indy 500.

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The crowd was decent making for fairly full stands, but with noticable tarpaulins and swaths of empty seats the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 was definitely not a sellout. Happily the weather held and the over two hundred thousand fans in attendance enjoyed an action packed race.

Rookie phenom and race winner Colton “Joaquin” Herta was first out of the contest, suffering gear box issues in the early going. On lap six his stalled car on the warmup lane brought out the first caution flag of four on the day. Problems on pit lane proved widespread, with Helio Castro-Neves punting James Davison from behind, earning a penalty and ruining both their chances. Then on entry Jordan King ran into his tire, which bounced back and forth and struck his crew member twice, causing leg injuries and drawing yet another of the fourteen penalties handed out. Not to be outdone, Whinin’ Will Power ran over an air hose in his pit box and also drew race control’s attention, costing last year’s unlikable winner a shot at repeating.

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Kyle Kaiser spun and hit the wall, bringing out a second caution on lap 73 much as we predicted. Pags contiued to lead Ed Carpenter who ran near the front most of the day but eventually faded to sixth. The restart came on lap 80 as cars ran four wide down the back straight in a breathtaking display of oval racing. A long green flag stint glaringly exposed the Marco chicane, which fortunately was bright red enough for everyone to avoid.

Swedish rookie Marcus Ericsson locked up his brakes and spun coming into the pits, crashing his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports car and bringing out the third caution. While pitting, suddenly Rossi encountered a problem with his fueling probe and proceeded to flip out, banging his steering wheel and looking like a 3 year old throwing a tantrum. The lost seconds in the pits hurt, his eventual gap behind Pags being a mere .2 seconds.

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NTT IndyCar Series


Wow, @Hinchtown 😱

Watch the @SPMIndyCar crew keep the No. 5 clean (somehow) through a big crash at @IMS. //


On lap 178 Rossi flew around Pags for the lead just prior to a major multi-car pileup involving Graham Rahal, Sebastien Bourdais, Scott Dixon and several other top ten contenders. The destruction proved so extensive it was deemed to have required a red flag for the clean up. Bourdais and Rahal touched as the former came down onto the latter, Graham gesturing wildly at the Frenchman while still in the process of wrecking. Rahal then got in his face after jumping out of his wrecked race car, despite Bourdais having hit the wall hard. Several drivers took evasive action and managed to keep going, with Santino Ferrucci driving through the grass and James Hinchcliffe showing off his maneuvering skills, as well.

The resulting red flag on lap 180 turned out to be a bit mysterious, with little explanation forthcoming and no apparent injuries or serious damage to the facility. The restart finally came with 16 laps to go. Excitingly going back and forth, Rossi passed Pags with less than three remaining, but Pags came storming back, quickly dispatching the Honda pilot for the win. It was Chevy’s second consecutive 500 triumph, as well as Team Penske’s. When asked about finishing second to Pags, Rossi tellingly replied, “horsepower.”

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