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.

2015 Indianapolis 500 start

Scott Dixon led the field at the start and ran a total of 84 laps in P1, but ran out of grip in the closing laps and slipped to fourth.

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.

Sage Karam and Takuma Sato collide

Sage Karam found himself tipped into the wall on the opening lap by Takuma Sato; the former was an instant retiree, while Sato managed to recover from 2 laps down to finish thirteenth.

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.

Ed Carpenter and Oriol Servia collide - 2015 Indianapolis 500

Ed Carpenter and Oriol Servia collided at Turn 1 on Lap 113.

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 co Team Penske 200 3:05:56.5286
2. Will Power au Team Penske 200 + 0.1046
3. Charlie Kimball us Chip Ganassi Racing 200 + 0.7950
4. Scott Dixon nz Chip Ganassi Racing 200 + 1.0292
5. Graham Rahal us Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 200 + 2.3122
6. Marco Andretti us Andretti Autosport 200 + 2.5388
7. Hélio Castroneves br Team Penske 200 + 2.7821
8. J.R. Hildebrand us CFH Racing 200 + 3.5631
9. Josef Newgarden us CFH Racing 200 + 4.0281
10. Simon Pagenaud fr Team Penske 200 + 4.2148
11. Sébastien Bourdais fr KVSH Racing 200 + 5.3067
12. Ryan Briscoe au Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 200 + 5.6687
13. Takuma Sato jp A.J. Foyt Enterprises 200 + 6.1678
14. Townsend Bell us Dreyer & Reinbold Kingdom Racing 200 + 8.5005
15. Ryan Hunter-Reay us Andretti Autosport 200 + 9.6481
16. Gabby Chaves co Bryan Herta Autosport 200 + 10.1016
17. Alex Tagliani ca A.J. Foyt Enterprises 200 + 11.2151
18. James Jakes uk Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 200 + 12.0431
19. Simona de Silvestro ch Andretti Autosport 200 + 12.7328
20. Carlos Muñoz co Andretti Autosport 200 + 39.8346
21. Justin Wilson uk Andretti Autosport 199 1 lap behind
22. Pippa Mann uk Dale Coyne Racing 197 3 laps behind
Not Classified Team / Entry Laps Result
DNF. Sebastián Saavedra co Chip Ganassi Racing / AFS Racing 175 Collision
DNF. Jack Hawksworth uk A.J. Foyt Enterprises 175 Collision
DNF. Stefano Coletti mc KV Racing Technology 175 Collision
DNF. Tony Kanaan br Chip Ganassi Racing 151 Accident
DNF. James Davison au Dale Coyne Racing 116 Accident
DNF. Tristan Vautier fr Dale Coyne Racing 116 Mechanical
DNF. Oriol Servià es Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 112 Collision
DNF. Ed Carpenter us CFH Racing 112 Collision
DNF. Bryan Clauson us Jonathan Byrd’s Racing / KVSH Racing 61 Accident
DNF. Sage Karam us Chip Ganassi Racing 0 Collision
DNS. Conor Daly us 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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Michael Terminello

Journalist at MotorsportM8