Team Penske’s Juan Pablo Montoya has won the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 and his second Indy 500 crown since his rookie year in 2000, holding off Penske teammate and reigning IndyCar Series champion Will Power by 0.1046 seconds after an intense race long battle between the powerhouse Penske and Ganassi teams.
The ex-Formula 1 and NASCAR racer gave his team boss ‘The Captain’ Roger Penske and his team its sixteenth Indianapolis 500 victory, ending a five-year winless drought on the legendary 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Colombian became the team’s eleventh different victor at the 500-mile race.
“It was awesome,” beamed 39-year-old Montoya after placing the winner’s wreath around his neck and tasting the traditional ice cold milk in victory lane.
“This is what racing in IndyCar is all about, racing down to the wire. These guys, Team Penske, did an amazing job. I had the feeling that I had a really good car, but that fight at the end was really, really hard. All the way down to the wire. This is pretty awesome.”
Montoya finished fifth in his return to the Indy 500 last year, following a 13-year absence in which he won races in Formula 1 and NASCAR. His victory also breaks the run of five different race-winners in the first five races this year; he won the opening round at St Peterburg after a similarly tough battle with Power, and also managed to further extend his lead in the Drivers’ Championship standings to 25 points over the Australian.
Montoya started a lowly 15th in his #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet entry, and fell to 30th early in the race after being hit from behind during an early full-course caution, which forced him to make an unscheduled pit stop to change out the rear wing assembly. Compounding his tough start to the race, he overshot hit pit bay at a subsequent pit stop on Lap 95, but had sensationally recovered back into the top-three on Lap 102.
Power was two-tenths behind Montoya entering into the final lap, but couldn’t make a dramatic last-turn pass after his teammate claimed the lead with three laps to go.
“I just had too much push [oversteer] when he got by,” Power shrugged afterwards. “I had to lift on that last lap. He was definitely better when he got behind me. That’s why he got the run. Anywhere else I’d be happy with second. But here, it was a great month overall – first, first and second, second.”
Chip Ganassi Racing driver Charlie Kimball rounded out the podium, claiming his best Indianapolis 500 result in five attempts after starting in fourteenth place.
Pole-sitter Scott Dixon led the most laps of the entire field (84 all up), but faded to fourth in the final laps after Montoya finally got the better of the New Zealander with a bold passing move. He finished 1.0292 seconds adrift of the victorious Montoya.
“I was just trying to pace it. When I really needed to go, I just couldn’t turn the car. We were fighting a little bit with the car overheating, so we were trying to go over different ignition maps. There was definitely a lot going on. As the laps were counting down I was trying to make something happen,” Dixon rued after the race.
Backing up his outstanding start to his season was Graham Rahal in the #15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan entry, who charged up the field from seventeenth on the grid.
Marco Andretti (Andretti), Hélio Castroneves (Penske), JR Hildebrand (CFH Racing), Josef Newgarden (CFH) and front-row starter Simon Pagenaud (Penske) completed the top ten.
There were six yellow cautions of the day and there were 20 cars on the lead lap at the checquered flag, with 10 cars failing to finish the race and one failing to start – the hapless Conor Daly suffered a fuel pump failure before the race had even begun.
Among those taken out of contention throughout the day included Ganassi’s Tony Kanaan, who backed it into the wall just moments after a downforce adjustment during a pit stop.
On the opening lap, AJ Foyt’s Takuma Sato went three wide on the outside of Turn 1 and ran out of room, tagging Sage Karam and tipping him into the wall and instant retirement. Ryan Briscoe (replacing the injured James Hinchcliffe for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports) spun in avoidance, and recovered from that delay to finish a creditable twelfth. Sato rebounded after falling two laps behind and finished one spot behind Briscoe.
Oriol Servià and Ed Carpenter later crashed out after Servià failed to notice a late move by Carpenter into the first corner. Bryan Clauson ran wide and got up into the wall early, ending his day after just 61 laps.
During that the Carpenter/Servià-induced yellow, all three Dale Coyne Honda entries (James Davison, Pippa Mann and Tristan Vautier) embarrassingly ran into each other on pit road, injuring two crew members on Vautier’s team.
The biggest wreck took place as the race neared its end. AJ Foyt’s Jack Hawksworth went into Sebastián Saavedra and the two spun into the turn four wall. As Saavedra came back across the track, KV Racing rookie Stefano Coletti made hard contact with the front of the Colombian’s #17 Chip Ganassi entry, momentarily sending the front of his own car into the air.
Saavedra suffered a contusion in his right foot and will need to have a medical clearance before next weekend’s Indy Dual of Detroit.
|2015 Indianapolis 500 – Final Classification (200 laps)|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|1.||Juan Pablo Montoya||Team Penske||200||3:05:56.5286|
|2.||Will Power||Team Penske||200||+ 0.1046|
|3.||Charlie Kimball||Chip Ganassi Racing||200||+ 0.7950|
|4.||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing||200||+ 1.0292|
|5.||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||200||+ 2.3122|
|6.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport||200||+ 2.5388|
|7.||Hélio Castroneves||Team Penske||200||+ 2.7821|
|8.||J.R. Hildebrand||CFH Racing||200||+ 3.5631|
|9.||Josef Newgarden||CFH Racing||200||+ 4.0281|
|10.||Simon Pagenaud||Team Penske||200||+ 4.2148|
|11.||Sébastien Bourdais||KVSH Racing||200||+ 5.3067|
|12.||Ryan Briscoe||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||200||+ 5.6687|
|13.||Takuma Sato||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||200||+ 6.1678|
|14.||Townsend Bell||Dreyer & Reinbold Kingdom Racing||200||+ 8.5005|
|15.||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport||200||+ 9.6481|
|16.||Gabby Chaves||Bryan Herta Autosport||200||+ 10.1016|
|17.||Alex Tagliani||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||200||+ 11.2151|
|18.||James Jakes||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||200||+ 12.0431|
|19.||Simona de Silvestro||Andretti Autosport||200||+ 12.7328|
|20.||Carlos Muñoz||Andretti Autosport||200||+ 39.8346|
|21.||Justin Wilson||Andretti Autosport||199||1 lap behind|
|22.||Pippa Mann||Dale Coyne Racing||197||3 laps behind|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|DNF.||Sebastián Saavedra||Chip Ganassi Racing / AFS Racing||175||Collision|
|DNF.||Jack Hawksworth||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||175||Collision|
|DNF.||Stefano Coletti||KV Racing Technology||175||Collision|
|DNF.||Tony Kanaan||Chip Ganassi Racing||151||Accident|
|DNF.||James Davison||Dale Coyne Racing||116||Accident|
|DNF.||Tristan Vautier||Dale Coyne Racing||116||Mechanical|
|DNF.||Oriol Servià||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||112||Collision|
|DNF.||Ed Carpenter||CFH Racing||112||Collision|
|DNF.||Bryan Clauson||Jonathan Byrd’s Racing / KVSH Racing||61||Accident|
|DNF.||Sage Karam||Chip Ganassi Racing||0||Collision|
|DNS.||Conor Daly||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||Fuel Pump|
The next round of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Championships heads straight to the ‘Motor City’ of Detroit, Michigan at Belle Isle Park for the Chevrolet Indy Dual of Detroit with both races held on Saturday May 30 and Sunday May 31.
Images via IndyCar Series
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