The 97th Indianapolis 500 ended under caution, but the racing was record breaking all day as Tony Kanaan finally broke through to win his first career Indy 500 in his 12th race. He was one of the strong cars all race long and made the move for the lead on a restart with three laps to put Jimmy Vasser's KV Racing Technology team in victory lane in the historic race.
"I got a little bit of luck today and again it's for the fans, it's for my dad that is not here, but mainly for all of you guys (points to the stands)," an emotional Kanaan said in victory lane after dousing himself with milk. "I mean I was looking at the stands and it was unbelievable. Man, I can't believe it."
The win was the 15th career IZOD IndyCar Series win for the 38-year old Brazilian who was the 2004 series champion. It is Kanaan's fist win since the 2010 season.
Kanaan also can say he won the Indy 500 on a day when three records were broken. There were 68 lead changes which smashed the record that the 2012 race set at 34. There were 14 different leaders which broke 1993's record of 12. It was also the fastest Indy 500 with an average speed of 187.433 mph.
Carlos Munoz, who was making his first career IndyCar Series race, finished an impressive second and Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2012 series champion, finished third after leading on the final restart.
The first caution came out for JR Hilldebrand on lap 4 when he crashed off Turn 2 as he got loose just out of the groove with James Hinchcliffe under him. Hildebrand finished last in 33rd.
The race restarted on lap 8 and on lap nine Tony Kanaan, who started 12th, passed Carpenter for the first lead change of the race. From there it seemed as if the lead changed almost every lap. Up to when green flag pit stops started on lap 29 the lead was swapped between Kanaan and Marco Andretti six times. Kanaan was the first to pit on lap 29 with Andretti coming in on lap 30 along with Carpenter.
The second caution would come out on lap 35 when Sebastian Saavedra made right-front contact into Buddy Lazier who ran him low. Saavedra then spun through the grass and up to the outside wall. Saavedra would finish in 32nd and Lazier would retire 10 laps later with a 31st place finish.
Four drivers, who had not pitted including James Jakes, made their way to pit road giving the lead to Ed Carpenter for the lap 44 restart. Marco Andretti grab the lead but Carpenter took it back on lap 45. Andretti went back in front on lap 51 and Carpenter again on lap 54. Meanwhile Pippa Mann hit the wall and retired from the race with a 30th place finish. No caution came out for her contact.
The third caution did fly when Takuma Sato spun off of Turn 2. He had raced his way into the top 10 but got too loose. He did not hit anything in the spin and stayed on the lead lap. On the ensuing pit stops Ryan Hunter-Reay's Andretti Autosport pit crew got him off with the lead.
He would lead under green on lap 62 and 63 and then Ed Carpenter went back in front on lap 64. Tony Kanaan took the lead on lap 73 and then Will Power soared to the front on lap 75. Meanwhile AJ Allmendinger was showing tremendous speed and worked his way up to fifth by lap 83 after being deep in the field early on.
Green flag stops started with Will Power on lap 89. Tony Kanaan and Ryan Hunter-Reay came in on lap 90. When the stops cycled through Kanaan was leading with Hunter-Reay second, EJ Viso third, and AJ Allmendinger fourth.
On lap 98 Allmendinger shot to the lead in his Penske car and looked like he was going to be one of the favorites to win over the second half of the race. Allmendinger led up to lap 112 when he suddenly pitted when one of his seat belts came loose. It was an odd problem to have for the former Penske NASCAR driver which dropped him one lap down to 24th at the time. That gave the lead to Marco Andretti. On lap 116 Kanaan went to the lead and then on lap 121 Kanaan and Andretti made a scheduled pit stop.
When the pit stops cycled through Hunter-Reay led on lap 126 with Kanaan second, Viso third, and Helio Castroneves fourth. Allmendinger was right back in the lead pack as well. Andretti took the lead on lap 127 and then Hunter-Reay went back in front on lap 131. Viso grabbed the lead on lap 133 before Hunter-Reay again went to the front on lap 136. Allmendinger again showed how strong he was by making it all the way to the top spot on lap 137.
He would have to make a now scheduled stop on lap 143 for more fuel and gave the lead to Hunter-Reay. Castroneves took the lead on lap 145 and Andretti was back in front on lap 146 until he pitted on lap 151. On a lap 153 pit stop EJ Viso stalled his car which ruined his chance at an Indy 500 win. When the pit stops cycled through on lap 157 the running order was Andretti, Hunter-Reay, Allmendinger, Munoz, and Kanaan.
The record number of lead changes continued with Hunter-Reay going to the lead on lap 158. Allmendinger was back in front on lap 165 then Andretti on lap 168, Hunter-Reay on 169, and Andretti on 171. On lap 168 Alex Tagliani made contact with the wall while running around tenth and had to pit. He finished in 24th four laps down. On lap 169 Townsend Bell got loose and hit the wall and pitted. He finished eight laps down in 27th.
Allmendinger made his final pit stop of the race on lap 173 the same lap Kanaan went into the lead. Andretti retook the lead on lap 175 then Kanaan on 176. Kanaan made his final stop on lap 178 and Carlos Munoz took the lead. Also on lap 178 Sebastien Bourdais pitted and on entrance lost control and hit the inside pit wall. He finished in 29th.
Munoz made his final stop on lap 185 which left only James Hinchcliffe and Dario Franchitti on the track who did not make their final stops. They did on lap 188 which gave the lead to Hunter-Reay.
On lap 189 Tony Kanaan took the lead and the top 10 was Kanaan, Hunter-Reay, Andretti, Munoz, Justin Wilson, Castroneves, Franchitti, Allmendinger, Simon Pagenaud, and Carpenter. Hunter-Reay took the lead on lap 190, Kanaan on 191, Hunter-Reay on 193 and he led when the fourth caution and first since the lap 62 restart came out on lap 194 when Graham Rahal lost control off Turn 2 and hit the inside wall hard. He would finish in 25th.
That set up the final restart with Ryan Hunter-Reay leading over Tony Kanaan and Carlos Munoz with three laps to go. Munoz jumped to the outside and Kanaan to the inside of Hunter-Reay down the front stretch racing to Turn 1. By the time they got there Kanaan was out in front with Munoz second and Hunter-Reay ready to draft back by in the final two laps. That never could happen because Dario Franchitti, a three-time Indy 500 winner, got high in Turn 1 and hit the wall hard to bring out the fifth caution.
IndyCar does not guarantee a green flag finish, which meant Kanaan was going to win the Indianapolis 500 under caution. The fans were delighted nonetheless as Kanaan is a fan favorite.
"Finally I'm going to put my ugly face on that trophy," Kanaan said with a huge smile.
The finishing order of the 97th Indy 500 was Kanaan in first, Carlos Munoz second, Ryan Hunter-Reay third, Marco Andretti fourth, Justin Wilson fifth, Helio Castroneves sixth, AJ Allmendinger seventh, Simon Pagenaud eighth, Charlie Kimball ninth, and Ed Carpenter tenth. Oriol Servia came home 11th, Ryan Briscoe 12th, Takuma Sato 13th, Scott Dixon 14th, Ana Beatriz 15th, Tristan Vautier 16th, Simona de Silvestro 17th, EJ Viso 18th, and Will Power the last lead lap car in 19th.
James Jakes was one lap down in 20th and also one lap down in 21st was James Hinchcliffe. Conor Daly finished 22nd in his first IndyCar start and Dario Franchitti ended up 23rd after his crash. Katherine Legge was 26th and Josef Newgarden 28th after having issues that put them multiple laps down.
After five races in the IZOD IndyCar Series season, Marco Andretti leads the point standings. Takuma Sato is 11 points behind in second and Helio Castroneves is 16 back in third. Ryan Hunter-Reay is fourth, James Hinchcliffe fifth, Justin Wilson sixth, Tony Kanaan seventh, Scott Dixon eighth, Oriol Servia ninth, and Simon Pagenaud is tenth.
The series now heads into its first double-header weekend of the year with two races at Belle Isle in Detroit on June 1 and June 2 both on ABC.
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