Indy 500: Hunter-Reay wins close fought Indy 500 for Andretti Autosport
INDIANAPOLIS (May 25, 2014)-Hunter-Reay, driving the No. 28 DHL car for Andretti Autosport, held off three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves by a hair-raising .0600 of a second — the second-closest margin of victory in the history of the event — in a six-lap shootout to claim his first Indy 500 victory. Marco Andretti finished .3171 of a second back for his third third-place finish in nine starts.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Hunter-Reay, who is the first American winner since Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006. “This (race) is American history; this is better than a championship. I hope the fans loved it because I was on the edge of my seat.”
Hunter-Reay started 19th. There were 34 lead changes among 11 drivers.
Castroneves overtook Hunter-Reay in Turn 1 on Lap 199 of 200 entering Turn 1, but Hunter-Reay led at the finish line by .0235 of a second.
“I did everything I could do,” said Castroneves, driving the No. 3 Pennzoil Ultra Platinum Team Penske car. “What a fight.”
Carlos Munoz, who finished second last year as a rookie, finished fourth, and 2000 Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya was fifth. Kurt Busch, who had 600 more miles of racing left in North Carolina, placed sixth in his first Indy car race.
Race officials red-flagged the race on Lap 192 for seven minutes to fix the Turn 2 SAFER Barrier and clean up from the single-car incident involving Townsend Bell’s No. 6 Robert Graham KV Racing Technology entry. Bell had been running fifth — 1.8 seconds behind Hunter-Reay.
The first caution flag flew on Lap 150 when the No. 83 car driven by Charlie Kimball made light contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2. The record for longest stretch before a first yellow flag had previously been set at 65 laps in 2000. The four yellow flags tied the record for fewest (1990); the Speedway started recording cautions in 1976.
Graham Rahal was the first to retire from the race with an electrical issue in the No. 15 entry. Tony Kanaan, who won the race in 2013, developed an early suspension issue and finished 26th.
Round 6 and 7 of the Verizon IndyCar Series will be telecast live on ABC May 31 and June 1 for the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix — both races at 3:30 p.m. (ET).
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “It’s a dream come true man. I can’t even believe it. I don’t know. This is just the most fantastic team for what they’ve given me. My dream has come true today and I’m a proud American boy, that’s for sure. (Q: tell us about passing and repassing Helio)
“There was no practice for it. We never really ran those lines at all the whole month and that was all new. Everything everybody was doing at the end was all new. I didn’t know if we had what it took but I’ve got the best team behind me. Nobody can stand on their own without a good team behind them.”
(Q: Beccy said last night you were very confident?) “I knew we had a good race car. We didn’t qualify well but we (did) bring it to the front. This is just a dream come true. I’ve watched this race since I was in diapers sitting on the floor in front of the TV. My son did it today. He watched me here. I’m thrilled. This is an American tradition, our auto industry is based on it…” (Q: What will you cherish most about winning the Indy 500) “Having my family here with me and being with this bunch. This is my fifth year in Andretti Auto Sport. I have such a great team. They were behind me every step of the way and you know what? It went green the whole way and I love that. Winning it under green like that with just a fantastic finish, we all raced each other clean but really hard. I think that was a fantastic race. I hope the fans loved it because I was on the edge of my seat that’s for sure.”
BECCY HUNTER-REAY (Wife of Ryan Hunter-Reay): “Oh my god when lap 199 came I was like no, no, no, no you just gotta get this! We just won the Indy 500. He deserves it so much. I can’t wait to get my little guy down there.”(Q: he had one of the most aggressive moves of the race. What was going through your mind?”)”I knew he was going to do whatever it took to win this one. I’ve got to go drink milk.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 25 Snapple Honda): “Yeah, I mean, close but we never really dominated. You could say that Ryan and Helio did. The only way we had a shot is if those two got together. They were putting so many blocks on me that there was nothing I could do. Every time we got to the front, we got shuffled back. I think we did what we could, but congrats to Ryan, he almost took me out in Turn 3 — I almost crashed. I think if it wasn’t for the Indy 500, I was going to be pretty mad at Ryan, but it is for the Indy 500 and he’s up there and I’m not. This is as competitive as IndyCar has ever been. I don’t care what anyone has to say. We were close, but we never really dominated. Every time we got to the front we got shuffled back. I think we did what we could, but congrats to Ryan (Hunter-Reay). He almost took me out in Turn 3. I almost crashed.” (On the intensity of the battles on the track): “I think if it wasn’t for the Indy 500, I would be pretty mad at Ryan. But it is for the Indy 500. He’s up there and I’m not, so what are you going to say? I think this is as competitive as IndyCar has ever been, I don’t care what anybody has to say.”
MIKHAIL ALESHIN (No. 7 SMP Racing Honda): “I was very upset that we had a mechanical issue, because our car had a great pace. We were racing Bourdais and Wilson early on, and I was very competitive with them. They finished in the top-10, so I’m very disappointed I wasn’t able to race them at the end. Being off of the lead lap ruined our day, but I still gained valuable experience since this was my first oval race. The crowd was so much larger than I expected, but it would have been nicer to get a result that reflected our true ability in front of them.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Chevrolet): “All of a sudden, it just started to slide mid-pack (mid-apex). I tried to catch it and there was no catching it. I feel really bad for the guys. We had a pretty strong car all day. I think Ed really looked like the one to be beat. He crashed too, so it could be anybody. I’m just bummed for Team Target, Chip, and everybody on the team.”
(Asked about the cautions happening after so many laps) “It’s what’s going to happen, so hopefully everybody stays safe out there and everyone enjoys the race.” (Asked if he’s fine after crash) “Yeah, just slapped my hand a little bit. Nothing too much.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Chevrolet): “It’s tough really. Our day was pretty much over before it started with the issues we had on pit lane. When you go that many laps down you simply cannot recover. I always say this place chooses the winner and unfortunately today she didn’t choose us.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda):”You know, it could have been the last restart and you have to go for it. Ed gave me the room initially. I honestly don’t think Townsend (Bell) knew we were three-wide. I haven’t seen the replay yet, but from what I saw Townsend came down into Ed, who came down into me. I was the last guy there, so I have to take a portion of the blame for sure. I feel bad for Ed. I knew Townsend had popped out, but I honestly didn’t think he’d hold the outside. You just can’t do that here. Partially my fault. Partially Townsend’s fault. 100 percent not Ed’s fault.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Hartman Oil/Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): “We had a good day going until lap 130 or so. Just had some issues with communication and then ran out of fuel and then we couldn’t get the engine fired back over. It just died. Then we lost laps and we got punted under a yellow so just a horrible day for all our boys that worked hard. We had a good car so we’ll try to go to Detroit and be better.”
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): “Hinch (James Hinchcliffe) tried to make three wide in turn one with 25 laps to go. Not a smart move. It wrecked both of our races. I told him if he didn’t have a concussion last week that I would have punched him in the face. It wasn’t a green-white-checkered situation. Of all of the guys out there, I wouldn’t have thought it would be Hinch. I am pretty good friends with him and those guys at Andretti. I think he just didn’t use his head right then. I totally believe we were right in the mix with Ryan (Hunter-Reay), Helio (Castroneves) and Marco (Andretti). I was running with Ryan right then and we had swapped the lead a few times. We got a little fortunate in the middle of the race when we blistered a right rear tire and had to pit earlier than we wanted. We were able to hold off the leaders then when the yellow came out. I was back up front and the car felt good. We were just trying to figure out how to set a guy up for the last lap of the race. It just stinks.”
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Preferred Freezer/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): “Any day that you are not sitting in victory lane and drinking the milk, it’s a disappointment. For us, the Preferred Freezer Service Chevy team, it’s frustrating because we had a really good car. We had an issue with a tire that got us out of the pit sequence. The car got bad with the tire issue. I had to pit or I was going to crash. But the car was fast. We passed a ton of guys today including in the end. It was nice earlier when we jumped from ninth to third and I was running with Ed. I’m happy for Ryan (Hunter-Reay) and it’s a bummer for Ed. We had really good cars today. It was fun to drive the ECR car. In those first few stints, the car was just a pleasure to drive. I’m happy the car is in one piece and I think we showed we had some speed today. We had the pace of the leaders and I ran with all of those guys at one time today. As the track got hotter, the other guys were sliding around so much. So I felt without that early pit stop, we would have been right there too. We got caught out a little by the late yellow flag. I had to come back and pass a lot of cars. To run up front, you need a great equipment and level head on your shoulders. Frankly, I’m disappointed with tenth. We had a stronger car. It was fun to race with the ECR guys. I would love to get into a full-time deal with this team. This team is very good.”
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): (Townsend Bell) hits the wall and it’s right at that point that he’s coming back across so at that point I had to dive the other way and it was just a complete debris field. And you can’t change directions so I hit the engine cover and it broke the front wing and the mirror. Right before the cockpit opening so I’m pretty lucky. We were right behind Bourdais in eighth and we were struggling, but that would have been another top-10 finish at Indy but we ended up 22nd which is so disappointing. What can you do? (About the initial green flag run). I thought it was never going to go yellow. There was a few times when I was pushing and loose. The car was a handful at times. I got on the radio and said ‘I hope someone crashes before I do because it’s not going to be long!’ It was frustrating. I think we just missed it today.
CARLOS HUERTAS (No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “The race was pretty good for me. I ran the maximum I could and finished the race 17th. I would have loved to have a better result but that is what I had today and that is what it is. The race played out how I expected it to but I didn’t expect so many stints during green flag running. The end got a bit crazy but I managed to stay out of the crashes. Everything was a bit strange to me because oval racing is new to me so I am learning all the time and l am listening to what the other drivers have to say and learning from that.”
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 17 AFS KVAFS Racing Chevrolet): “15th place is very welcomed after a very long day out there. I am very proud of my KV AFS Racing boys because they never gave up. We didn’t have the best car, but we kept fighting and even with a broken wing at the end we still never gave up. We were able to pick up some great points today, which will help us towards the championship. We will come back stronger next year but from where we started in 32nd, survive and finish 15th was a huge accomplishment.”
CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 34 Cinsay AndrettiTV.com HVM Honda): “I think we were missing a little bit of speed. I tried to give everything down on the track. I pushed hard. I’m really happy for the team. They won the 500 – first, third, and fourth. It’s a great result for the team. Congratulations to Ryan (Hunter-Reay). CARLOS MUNOZ – “I’m really happy for the team. They won the 500 – first, third, and fourth. It’s a great result for the team. Congratulations to Ryan (Hunter-Reay). I’ve been second and fourth. You know, I’ve been second and fourth. Hopefully, next year, I’ll have another show to do it.”
JACQUES VILLENEUVE (No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): “Today went according to plan. I started toward the back, so I took a very easy start and didn’t go for broke on the first lap. Early on I wasn’t very happy with the car, so I hung back and focused on not losing a lap. During the pit stops we steadily improved the car, and luckily we got our lap back somehow. At the end of the race I felt that my car was really starting to catch its stride, and I drove more aggressively. I was amazed at how many laps we did without a yellow flag. Normally this race feels like a marathon, but today I felt like it was flying by. It was almost like nothing was going on. Everyone was just minding their own business turning laps. I definitely want to come back, because 14th isn’t good enough. After being away for 19 years I was happy to be running quickly at the end, though. We ended on the lead lap and stayed away from the wall, so I think that’s an acceptable result for being away for so long!”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet):”Unfortunately I made a mistake on one of the pit stops when I was resetting the fuel. I pressed the wrong button. We got a penalty for that but we came back. I was proud of the way we fought. I don’t think we had anything for the (Ryan) Hunter-Reay or Helio (Castroneves). But I was happy with the Verizon Chevy and it was good to be back in Indy. It was cool to watch them swap the lead back and forth of the final laps. I had a good seat for it. I just wish we were in the middle of it, but we just had too much understeer at the end.”
“We didn’t have anything for the guys up front; we just had too much understeer in traffic. But, I’m happy for the Verizon car. It’s good to be back here in Indy and it was an exciting race. It was a fun race. That battle at the end was cool to watch. I would have liked to be a part of that more, but we had a little too much understeer there at the end.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 National Guard Honda): “This is our luck; I don’t know what to say. We had an engine electronic problem and the engine kept shutting off. I didn’t think it was running quite right to start and all of a sudden the engine just kept shutting off. We pitted to try to find out what the problem was then went out for a couple of laps and it just kept shutting off so it was unsafe to continue. I’m sorry for all the National Guard folks that are here. Unfortunately in a case like this, there is not much you can do. It is some gremlin. It was our first race with the National Guard on Memorial Day weekend and we wanted to make them proud. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to succeed today. Today is just not our day.”
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 16 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda): “We ran the best at the end of the race but I honestly still feel that we lack some grip. I couldn’t get close to people and if you can’t get close to people, you cannot pass them. We had a good race overall but I was really hoping that the track officials would decide to sweep the marbles like they should because we had around three quarters of the race under green so there were a lot of marbles and pieces of debris out there and that’s why you couldn’t pass anybody which is a shame because you can’t go side-by-side. I don’t know why they decided not to clean the track. I could have been a much better race.”
SAGE KARAM (No. 22 Comfort Revolution/Brantley Gilbert Chevrolet): Hats off to my team. They did an awesome job. The Dreyer & Reinbold Kingdom boys gave me an awesome car. It was stable all day and I was able to come from the back and get a top 10 – I will take it! 150 laps straight of green-flag racing takes a toll on you. My foot even hurts from the vibrations of keeping it flat for so long. Now I know why they say this is the hardest race to win in the world.
We were looking good, we were running in eighth when a yellow flag came out right when I pitted. We ended up going a lap down and had to get the wave around and go to the back of the filed. It messed up our strategy, if we were out for another lap or so I believe we could have been in the top five. They team did awesome. I had so much fun out there. I am so grateful and blessed to have just run in the Indy 500.”
TOWNSEND BELL (No. 6 Robert Graham KV Technology Chevrolet):”I got hit in that three-wide on the restart in the left rear and earlier in the race with (Tony) Kanaan when I was inside of him and he was squeezing me, I clipped the wall with the left rear. It just knocked it too much out of toe. It was loose all race and then in the end, I was just trying to go for it to see if we could get to the front. You don’t get those chances very often, but unfortunately the left rear just took too much pounding during the day to make it work and it got away from me. I hate to end that way. That was a pretty good hit. I’ll be pretty sore.” (On the three-wide restart with Ed Carpenter and James Hinchcliffe that damaged his car): “I thought I was side-by-side with just Ed in turn one. I didn’t realize someone else, I think it was Hinch maybe, had forced three-wide, which is pretty optimistic. I haven’t seen a replay but I would guess Ed didn’t have anywhere to go. I was giving him room for one car, I didn’t know there was a third one that had ducked in. Nonetheless, I thought we would just hang on there in the top five. We didn’t really have anything to charge to the front, given the way the toe was knocked out.” (What’s it like watching the end of the race from the medical center?) “It just sucks. Should be out there racing with those guys.”
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Racing Honda): “We struggled today. We had a lot of inconsistency in terms of balance between different sets of tires. One of the tires blistered in the second half of the race, and we lost a lap when we pitted early to change it. I’m quite pleased with 12th in the end when you consider how difficult our day was. We were able to gain several spots on the last restart, but on normal running we weren’t where we needed to be today. This sport is interesting. In our last Verizon IndyCar Series race, the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, we were the class of the field and won. Today that wasn’t the case, but congratulations to Honda on winning the Indianapolis 500. I’m so proud to be part of the development of their engines, and a Honda win for any driver here is special. They work so hard, and it’s nice to see them rewarded.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 11 Hydroxycut/Mistic KVSH Racing Chevrolet): “Not a great day, but a good day. I am really happy for the Hydroxycut/Mistic E-Cigs crew. We struggled a bit with the car the whole month, but we stuck with it and got the best out of it today. We didn’t start in the front so it was a challenge to get there. Overall it was a strong performance, a good result and we got double points. Now we move on to Detroit.”
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 68 SFHR/RW Motorsports Honda): We had a good start, made up six or seven spots at the start. We settled in there and then all of the sudden we got loose with the car. I really didn’t know if it was our tire balance or the aero dynamics, but we started with a lot of aero and the car was a bit slow in the straightaways. We were expecting some yellow flag stops so we could take some wing out, it takes a lot of time to take wing out, but for 150 laps there was no yellow. So we kept coming in on the green and those pit stops are crucial so we couldn’t really trim the car that much, so we weren’t quick enough. We had one stop where we decided to trim the car and the car came alive but by trimming the car we also lost the rear of it. The tire pressure over shot the rear so we were getting understeer in traffic and we were loose at the end of the stint, but we looked at our tire pressure during the run and understand what happened. We were just missing a little bit on tire pressure and aero to be better in traffic. We kept trimming the car until finally the car was balanced and quick enough to follow. We made some passes on re starts and had some good pit stops to make up some time. We were the only one who got penalized. Sage Karam was behind us and he didn’t get penalized. That black flag penalty hurt us. Then had another good re start and got tangled with Hawksworth and was dropped into the grass. The last re-start I picked up 7 spots and finished 13th. As a secondary effort, the team did a good job. We need another race to really know what we need to be spot on.
It’s been a really interesting month and a lot of fun to see the way Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing operates. Until you work with a team you don’t know what it’s like, but it’s a team I’d like to drive with on a full time base for sure. Hopefully it’s a team that will become a 2-car program and I’ll be right there when that happens. It’s definitely a team with potential and if one day they do it, with what they showed me this month, it’s definitely something I’d be interested in looking at.
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Pennzoil Ultra Platinum Team Penske Chevrolet): First of all, I want to thank Shell-Pennzoil for a great way to start and launch a new product. I appreciate that. I want to thank again Roger and Team Penske with all the sponsors. Great race. Second place, it’s interesting when second place kind of sucks. But certainly taking the positive out of this, it was a great race. I think you guys had a good time. Second thing, congrats to Andretti Autosport. Ryan Hunter-Reay, great race. He did everything he could. I did everything I could obviously to try to stop. Definitely unbelievable. The reason that I was down there, I didn’t know you were watching, to be honest, I was just trying to collect my thoughts and make sure I say the right things (laughter). I’m glad I did that because, as I said, it’s frustrating to be so close to something that only a few guys did. But I do not take for granted. I’m extremely happy with the result. The car worked really well during the race. The team did a great job during the pit stops. It was the first time having Roger on the radio. It was kind of awesome. We dodged, avoided a few issues out there, incidents, were able to put ourselves in a great position to win. Unfortunately, as I said, it wasn’t our day. It was great to see an American driver winning.
MARTIN PLOWMAN (No. 41 ABC Supply/ A.J. Foyt Racing Honda):”It feels good to be able to finish my first 500. Many times, rookies crash out in their first one. We had a lot thrown at us today but we came through relatively unscathed. We were really battling the balance of the car. During the run, we developed a pretty severe vibration and oversteer. We tried to make some pit stop adjustments but we couldn’t really cure the oversteer.” Comparison to Le Mans? “The Indy 500 is a lot more mentally draining in one hit. Physically I felt okay except toward the middle of the race, I felt myself tense up in my left shoulder, as I was trying to hang on to the car which caused my left shoulder to cramp up.” Pageantry of the 500? “It was very hard to not get too excited with everything going on. The buildup is so emotional and overwhelming that you have to work hard to keep yourself even-keel and not get caught up in the moment.”
TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): “It was a good smooth start, I felt out the car and it was working reasonably well. I was able to move up in the first stint. It was very encouraging to get to the top 12 in the first 30 laps. We tried to adjust the car to make it better for traffic but maybe it was too greedy. The car reacted the opposite of what we wanted and got too loose and we lost positions in the next two stints. But halfway through the race we went back to where we started and we tried again. We gained back our speed and moved back to the top 12. By the way, those were the longest green flag stints I ever had in the 500. But unfortunately on Dixon’s accident, I collected a big piece of carbon fiber debris [in the leading edge of the right side underwing]. When I restarted fifth, I thought the next 20 laps were going to be quick but I lost a lot of downforce and speed so we had to pit to fix the car. We just ran out of time. It was a disappointing result but the boys did a great job in the pits all day and I think we gained a great experience as a team. It was a tough day but a good day.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Chevrolet): “(The broken left front spindle) happened in the incident when I brushed the wall. The thing just rotated. I think we were having a fairly decent race. We just kept digging for it, trying to make the car a little better. We might have gotten a little too aggressive as the track progressively heated up. It was too bad for Chip Ganassi Racing. I feel bad for the guys; they did a really good job, gave me good stops and we were moving forward. I think we were around the top 15 and doing everything we could to get a top 10 out of it. The safety team thought it might just have been a bent front wing, but it was worse than that, so we parked it.”
JACK HAWKSWORTH (No. 98 Charter/Castrol Edge Honda): “It was a pretty eventful race. The Integrity Energee Drink car felt pretty good at some points but we struggled at others. It wasn’t the result that we were hoping for, but on to Detroit now and we’ll try to make up for it there.”
JAMES DAVISON (No. 33 KVRT/Always Evolving Racing Chevrolet): “I feel okay with the result. We had a solid race and we finished, so it was mission accomplished today. I feel we deserved a 12th-place result, based on who we were sitting behind prior to the last restart. But I got jammed up there into turn one and three cars went by me. That’s the way it goes. Sometimes it works for you, sometimes it works against you. The KV Racing/Always Evolving team did a great job for me this month of May. We were the shortest program out there (in track time for the month) and maximized what we could with what time we had. We progressively trimmed the downforce out of the car today and added front center of pressure, which made me a little racier. I’m just very thankful to be here for the Indianapolis 500, hopefully the first of many for me.”
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 8 NTT DATA Chevrolet): “I’m just really upset with the finish. I got a run on (Will) Power. And he just completely drove me to the grass and chopped me and broke my front wing, It was dangerous driving, and I just can’t believe he didn’t get a penalty or anything. It was just absolutely stupid driving on his part and ruined our race after we did such a good job. We went a lap down early. We just waited for that Yellow. Finally, we got it. I got on the lead lap and basically pass all of these cars again. We had such a good car. We got it right up there to eighth at the end there on the final restart. Then Power; a dumb move killed our race. It’s disappointing, a top ten (finish) would have been good for the boys today.”
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was unbelievable that it went green for that long. We just screwed ourselves. A bloody speeding in pit lane penalty just ruined our day. Otherwise, we would have been in great shape. We had dropped back a little bit further than we wanted but it wasn’t bad. I could see the guys in the front dicing back and forth, as I thought it would be.”
KURT BUSCH (No. 26 Suretone Honda): “What an unbelievable experience. It is a dream come true to have an Andretti Autosport car to drive at Indy. I’m sure the car was a top five car. I was on edge those two restarts, making adjustments, trying to find air. I had to lift a little bit in turn two all day. All in all, I’m very pleased. I can’t believe the execution of this team. It’s a team effort, not just an individual. To be able to post a sixth-place finish was beyond my wildest expectations.”
“We settled in and ran laps and tried to pace ourselves. I just tried to feel the car all race long. My throat’s real dry because I was smiling the whole time and fresh air was coming in my mouth.”