Ryan Hunter-Reay holds off Helio Castroneves for Indianapolis 500 win 0
Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andrew Weber/USA TODAY Sports)
Take a breath America, a Yankee Doodle Dandy won the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.
Ryan Hunter Reay, in the No. 28 Andretti Autosport Honda, became the first American born driver to win the Greatest Spectacle in Racing since Sam Hornish Jr. did it in 2006.
“I’m a proud American boy,” Hunter-Reay said as he got out of his car in Victory Lane.
He had to overcome two late race wrecks — the first involving Canada’s James Hinchcliffe — and a red flag that stopped the race with six laps to go.
Over the next six laps, Hunter-Reay battled both his teammate Marco Andretti in the No. 25 Honda and Helio Castroneves in the No. 3 Penske Racing Chevrolet.
At the checkered flag he beat Castroneves by just .06 seconds — the second closest finish in Indianapolis 500 history.
Andretti finished third with Carlos Munoz fourth in a third Andretti Honda.
Juan Pablo Montoya, back at Indy 14 years after winning the big race in 2000, rounded out the top five in the No. 2 Penske Chevrolet.
For Hunter-Reay, it was the perfect ending for a near perfect day where he overcame a poor 19th-place qualifying result and moved to the front of the grid before the race was half way through its 200 laps.
“It’s a dream come true, man,” he said. “I can’t even believe it. I don’t know. This is just the most fantastic team for what they’ve given me.”
His back-and-forth fight with three-time Indy winner Castroneves will go down in the annals of greatest finishes ever at the fabled Brickyard.
Hunter-Reay said he had no frame of reference to deal with the challenge that Castroneves presented over the final six laps, where they played leap-frog for the lead.
“There was no practice for it,” he said. “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.”
Hunter-Reay said even though they had to start so far back, he knew the car the Andretti team had given him was fast.
“I knew we had a good race car,” he said. “We didn’t qualify well but we (did) bring it to the front.”
Hunter-Reay said his whole racing life led him to where he ended up on Sunday afternoon — drinking milk in victory lane at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“I’ve watched this race since I was in diapers sitting on the floor in front of the TV,” he said. “My son did it today. He watched me here. I’m thrilled. This is an American tradition. Our auto industry is based on it.”
And he said he was happy that they red-flagged the race to clear the debris from the final wreck so that the race would finish under green-flag conditions.
“Winning it under green like that with just a fantastic finish. We all raced each other clean but really hard,” he said. “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.”
NASCAR star Kurt Busch, attempting to become just the fourth driver in history to race in both the Indy 500 and the Coca Cola 600 on the same day, finished sixth in the No. 26 Andretti Honda before being flown to Charlotte, N.C., for Sunday night’s Sprint Cup race.
Defending Indy 500 champion Tony Kanaan’s race was effectively over after just 64 laps when he ran the No. 10 Ganassi Racing Chevrolet out of gas and subsequently couldn’t get it restarted, putting him 19 laps behind the leader.
A projected battle between Mercedes teammates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton failed to materialize Sunday after Rosberg roared to the lead and stayed there winning the Formula 1 Monaco Grad Prix for the second consecutive year. Hamilton was second, with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo third, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso fourth and Nico Hulkenberg fifth for Force India. In the process Hamilton fell four points back of Rosberg in the driver’s championship. ... A pair of young Canadians, Garret Grist, 19, of Grimsby, Ont., and Scott Hargrove, 19, from Surrey, B.C. finished first and second respectively in the Pro Mazda Championship Night Before the 500, at Lucas Oil Speedway on Saturday in Indianapolis.