INDYCAR: Hunter-Reay Prevails in Thrilling 500 to Score First Borg-Warner Trophy

RaceChaser Staff Featured, Midwest, Sprints & Midgets, Verizon IndyCar Series 0 Comments

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. 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.”

“There was no practice for (passing Helio). 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.”

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.

“It’s interesting when second place kind of sucks,” said Castroneves, who started fourth in the No. 3 Pennzoil Ultra Platinum Team Penske car. “What a fight. But certainly taking the positive out of this, it was a great race. I did everything I could obviously to try to stop (Hunter-Reay). I do not take (the result) for granted.  I’m extremely happy with the result.

“We were able to put ourselves in a great position to win. Unfortunately, as I said, it wasn’t our day.  It was great to see an American driver winning.”

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.

“What an unbelievable experience,” Busch grinned before taking off to head for Charlotte. “It is a dream come true to have an Andretti Autosport car to drive at Indy. I’m sure the car was a top five car. I was on edge those two restarts, making adjustments, trying to find air. I had to lift a little bit in turn two all day. All in all, I’m very pleased. I can’t believe the execution of this team. It’s a team effort, not just an individual. To be able to post a sixth-place finish was beyond my wildest expectations.”

“We settled in and ran laps and tried to pace ourselves. I just tried to feel the car all race long. My throat’s real dry because I was smiling the whole time and fresh air was coming in my mouth.”

Sebastien Bourdais, driving the KVSH Racing car that won the “500” last year with Tony Kanaan, placed a career-best seventh in the 500 Mile Race and Will Power finished eighth. Power, who started on the outside of Row 1 in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, was issued a drive-through penalty for a pit speed violation on Lap 128 as he exited while running second to Montoya.

With double points awarded for the three 500-mile races this season – the Indy 500, Pocono Raceway on July 6 and Auto Club Speedway on Aug. 30 – Hunter-Reay took the championship lead over Power, 274-234. Hunter-Reay entered the race trailing by one point.

Sage Karam, the 19-year-old rookie from Nazareth, Pa., finished ninth in the No. 22 Dreyer & Reinbold-Kingdom Racing with Chip Ganassi car. JR Hildebrand, who was the race runner-up as a rookie in 2011, placed 10th.

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.

Scott Dixon was also involved in a late-race crash with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing driver Josef Newgarden. Dixon finished in 29th position after falling out at Lap 167.

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).

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