The Indianapolis 500

From the Vanderbilt Cup to the next Grand Prix, the cars, drives, teams and politics.

The Indianapolis 500

Postby meteorite » Sun May 29, 2011 11:30 pm

For better or for worse - and there have been times in its 100 years of running that were definitely less than optimal - the Indy 500 is a sort of unique phenomenon of its own. Everyone knows about it, even those who don't follow racing at all. And for the aficionados, there is the careful ritual of national hymns and anthems, tributes to the armed forces and veterans, local colour and traditions. Mary Hulman George gives the instruction "Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines", the pastor gives his invocation, the Air Force flypast swoops over, and the balloons are released, as the cars roll out and form up. This year the pace car was driven by A.J. Foyt.

In short, all sorts of foofraw and hoopla, leading up to the race itself. Like F1, the cars are built to a carefully detailed specification, but with driver-adjustable bits, but no complicated rules or toys like trick tires are used. The driver can decide his fuel consumption settings, the suspension and downforce settings that give the optimal result on that particular chassis on that particular day. Every effort is ade to provide a level playing field for all.

So let;s go racing, as Indycar wants you to see it.


INDIANAPOLIS (Sunday, May 29, 2011) - JR Hildebrand stood beside A crumpled car and ran his fingers through his hair, trying to discern just what transpired on the final lap of the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500.

The 23-year-old Californian was a few hundred yards from being the first rookie to win the race since Helio Castroneves in 2001 and creating a storyline that would follow him into the record books. But, as all veterans will say, nothing is for certain in 200 laps of racing on the 2.5-mile strip of asphalt.

Hildebrand's No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car drifted up the track exiting Turn 4 and smacked the SAFER Barrier. Dan Wheldon, the 2005 race and IZOD IndyCar Series champion, was Danny on the spot for the victory.

Wheldon's No. 98 William Rast-CURB/Big Machine car for Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb/Agajanian overtook Hildebrand's sliding car and crossed the start/finish line under yellow. Chief steward Brian Barnhart said there's no requirement for cars not involved in an accident to stay behind those involved/disabled.

"It's a fantastic achievement everybody at Bryan Herta Autosport," said Wheldon, his voice choking with emotion. "I love everything about Indianapolis - the tradition, the fans, the history."

A Panther Racing car has been the Indy 500 runner-up the past four years (including 2009 and '10 driven by Wheldon).

Wheldon, who started sixth, said his surprise of seeing Hildebrand car make heavy right-side contact with the SAFER Barrier turned to "relief." Wheldon was running fifth with 10 laps remaining, but jumped into contention when race leader Bertrand Baguette pitted for a splash on Lap 197 and he overtook Scott Dixon a lap later.

"I was just trying to go as hard as I could," continued Wheldon, who was competing in his first race of the season. "I knew it was the last lap and I knew some of those guys were struggling with fuel (he pitted on Lap 177). I've been runner-up two years before this, but I never gave up. It's an incredible feeling."

Hildebrand, who inherited the lead when Baguette pitted, said he was trying to conserve fuel (he last pitted on Lap 164) on the white flag lap.

"I knew we were really tight on fuel coming to the end, and the spotters were in my ear saying, 'The guys are coming and they're coming hard,' '' said Hildebrand, who qualified 12th (the fastest rookie). "We had to conserve a little fuel and the tires were coming to the end of their stint. I was hanging a little on to get the thing around.

"I made a judgment call catching up on the 83 (the lapped car driven by fellow rookie Charlie Kimball) and I thought I don't really want to slow down behind him and pull out on the straightaway, and I've been able to make this move on the outside before and so I went to the high side and because it was at the end of the stint I got up in the marbles and that was it.

"I'm OK, but this is not really about me at this point. You always show up to try to win. My disappointment is for the team and for National Guard as a sponsor. It's one of the those things, as a driver, you never really know what you're going to expect. We knew we had a fast race car. We knew if the race came to us, we may be in a position to sort of finish top three, top five."

Graham Rahal, who started 29th, finished third for his second consecutive podium, and Tony Kanaan charged from 22nd to finish fourth. Dixon, who started in the middle of the front row and led a field-high 73 laps, faded to fifth, and Oriol Servia, who started on the front row, was sixth.

Franchitti, the 2010 race winner, led 51 laps and was running second on Lap 195. But he had to pit for a splash of fuel on Lap 199 and finished 12th.

Tomas Scheckter advanced 13 positions to finish eighth and Marco Andretti picked up 18 spots to finish ninth. Andretti Autosport teammate Danica Patrick was 10th.

There were 23 lead changes among 10 drivers and seven cautions for 40 laps. Patrick led 10 laps late in the No. 7 Team GoDaddy car, but had to pit with 10 laps left.

And here are the official results as issued by IndycAR:

IZOD IndyCar Series
100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500
INDIANAPOLIS - Results Sunday of the 2011 Indianapolis 500 IZOD IndyCar Series event on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (6) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
2. (12) JR Hildebrand, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
3. (29) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
4. (22) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
5. (2) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
6. (3) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
7. (14) Bertrand Baguette, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
8. (21) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
9. (27) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
10. (25) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
11. (8) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
12. (9) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
13. (28) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Honda, 199, Running
14. (5) Will Power, Dallara-Honda, 199, Running
15. (11) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 199, Running
16. (19) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 199, Running
17. (16) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 199, Running
18. (7) Buddy Rice, Dallara-Honda, 198, Running
19. (30) Alex Lloyd, Dallara-Honda, 198, Running
20. (31) Pippa Mann, Dallara-Honda, 198, Running
21. (32) Ana Beatriz, Dallara-Honda, 197, Running
22. (17) John Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 197, Running
23. (33) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 197, Running
24. (15) Davey Hamilton, Dallara-Honda, 193, Running
25. (24) Paul Tracy, Dallara-Honda, 175, Running
26. (4) Townsend Bell, Dallara-Honda, 157, Contact
27. (26) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 157, Contact
28. (1) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Honda, 147, Contact
29. (13) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 99, Contact
30. (20) Jay Howard, Dallara-Honda, 60, Contact
31. (23) Simona de Silvestro, Dallara-Honda, 44, Handling
32. (18) EJ Viso, Dallara-Honda, 27, Contact
33. (10) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 20, Contact

Race Statistics
Winners average speed: 170.265
Time of Race: 2:56:11.7267
Margin of victory: Under Caution
Cautions: 7 for 40
Lead changes: 23 among 10 drivers
Lap Leaders: Dixon 1-7, Tagliani 8-26, Dixon 27-33, Tagliani 34, Dixon 35-60, Franchitti 61, Carpenter 62-64, Franchitti 65-72, Dixon 73-98, Franchitti 99, Hildebrand 100-103, Franchitti 104-112, Servia 113-128, Franchitti 129-137, Hildebrand 138, Baguette 139-140, Franchitti 141-163, Servia 164-165, Rahal 166-171, Dixon 172-178, Patrick 179-188, Baguette 189-197, Hildebrand 198-199, Wheldon 200.
Point Standings: Power 194, Franchitti 178, Servia 150, Kanaan 135, Dixon 129, Rahal 120, Briscoe 117, Hildebrand 113, Tagliani 110, Mike Conway 102.

To be noted, of the Canadians Paul Tracy was running at the finish, though far behind having spent perhaps two dozen laps in the pits fixing damage from a light brush with the wall. Alex Tagliani started from pole, led many early laps, but gradually lost ground with an overheating problem. An attempt to fix it damaged the car, spoiled the aerodynamics and likely was the ultimate cause of his hanging it on the wall. James Hinchcliffe ran well and consistently in the top ten until he tried to give an overtaking competitor too much room, got up onto "the marbles" and skated into the wall.

All in all, very much the spectacle - if only it didn't attract so many commercials.
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