Ryan Hunter-Reay has survived a thrilling few final laps to claim his first Indianapolis 500 victory, beating home Hélio Castroneves by just six-hundredths of a second – the event’s second closest ever finish – in the famous 200-lap race.

The Andretti Autosport driver became the first American to win the blue-ribbon event since Sam Hornish Jr achieved the feat for Team Penske in 2006.

Townsend Bell’s late-race accident triggered a sensible call from Race Director Beaux Barfield to suspend the race so as to avoid a yellow-flag finish, setting a packed capacity crowd up for a nail-biting six-lap sprint to the chequered flag.

It proved to be a brilliant call from the people upstairs, as Hunter-Reay and long-time frontrunner Castroneves swapped positions with every lap, with the American clinching the lead on the start/finish straight just as the final lap got underway.

It was a see-sawing battle: Hunter-Reay was better through the first two turns of the 2.5-mile ‘Brickyard’, while Castroneves was stronger leading onto the main straight. His last move proved decisive, allowing him to pull just enough of a gap on the final lap. Castroneves reeled him back in through the final two corners, but just didn’t have enough in hand to overtake the former champion one last time.

Capping off a great day for the Andretti stable, Marco Andretti and Carlos Muñoz finished third and fourth, with guest driver Kurt Busch finishing a brilliant sixth ahead of his later appearance in NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 oval feature.

Just ahead, fellow NASCAR racer Juan Pablo Montoya marked his full-time return to open-wheel oval racing by finishing fifth, despite having to serve a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane. Penske teammate Will Power suffered the same fate and finished eleventh as Australia yet again went winless in the Indy 500.

The race ran without a single caution period for the first 149 laps – a record in the event’s near 100-year history – before Charlie Kimball broke the spell by crashing his Ganassi entry at the exit of Turn 2.

The race to that point was dominated by a thrilling battle for the lead between Andretti, his teammate James Hinchcliffe, Penske’s Will Power and pole-sitter Ed Carpenter, while Hunter-Reay was steadily working his way to the front of the field, and added his name to a long list of leaders when he assumed P1 on the 100th lap.

As is so often the case, one safety car tends to trigger more. Barely minutes after Dario Franchitti pulled his Chevrolet pace car into the pits, another accident ensued: Scott Dixon span into the wall at Turn 4 and Josef Newgarden went off in sympathy, bringing out the Holmatro Safety Crew once again.

Another restart and another accident: this time Hinchcliffe and Carpenter came together at Turn 1, for which the furious pole-winner blamed the Canadian of costing him a potential win. That being said, Townsend Bell was also a player in the two-car shunt, but he managed to continue undamaged before his accident late in the race.

Victory lane proved to be an emotional affair, with Hunter-Reay gulping the famous buttermilk, celebrating the achievement of a personal milestone and claiming the lead in the Drivers’ Championship standings, 40 points clear of Power.

Video highlights of the race can be watched here:


2014 IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 – Final Classification (200 laps):

Driver Team / Entry Result
1. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport Honda Honda 2:40:48.2305
2. Hélio Castroneves Team Penske Chevrolet Chevrolet + 0.0600
3. Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport Honda Honda + 0.3171
4. Carlos Muñoz Andretti Autosport Honda Honda + 0.7795
5. Juan Pablo Montoya Team Penske Chevrolet Chevrolet + 1.3233
6. Kurt Busch Andretti Autosport Honda Honda + 2.2666
7. Sébastien Bourdais KV Racing Technology Honda Honda + 2.6576
8. Will Power Team Penske Chevrolet Chevrolet + 2.8507
9. Sage Karam Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Chevrolet + 3.2848
10. JR Hildebrand Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet Chevrolet + 3.4704
11. Oriol Servià es Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda Honda + 4.1077
12. Simon Pagenaud Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda Honda + 4.5677
13. Alex Tagliani ca Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda Honda + 7.6179
14. Jacques Villeneuve ca Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda Honda + 8.1770
15. Sebastián Saavedra KV Racing Technology / AFS Racing Honda Honda + 8.5936
16. James Davison KV Racing Technology Honda Honda + 9.1043
17. Carlos Huertas Dale Coyne Racing Honda Honda + 12.1541
18. Ryan Briscoe Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Chevrolet + 13.3143
19. Takuma Sato A.J. Foyt Enterprises Honda Honda + 13.7950
20. Jack Hawksworth Bryan Herta Autosport Honda Honda + 13.8391
21. Mikhail Aleshin Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda Honda + 2 laps
22. Justin Wilson Dale Coyne Racing Honda Honda + 2 laps
23. Martin Plowman A.J. Foyt Enterprises Honda Honda + 4 laps
24. Pippa Mann Dale Coyne Racing Honda Honda + 7 laps
Retirements
DNF. Townsend Bell KV Racing Technology Honda Honda 190 laps
DNF. Tony Kanaan Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Chevrolet 177 laps
DNF. Ed Carpenter Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet Chevrolet 175 laps
DNF. James Hinchcliffe ca Andretti Autosport Honda Honda 175 laps
DNF. Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Chevrolet 167 laps
DNF. Josef Newgarden Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda Honda 156 laps
DNF. Charlie Kimball Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Chevrolet 149 laps
DNF. Buddy Lazier Lazier Partners Racing Chevrolet Chevrolet 87 laps
DNF. Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda Honda 44 laps

Images via IndyCar Series Media

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.

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