1005879_10151650489087071_1540147541_nThe story below is authored by my good friend, David Reininger. It originally appeared on one of the most informative IndyCar media platforms in the sport —  TrackSide Online

As TSO published; “Dave covers a few races for TSO when he’s not at the races doing his other job, spotting for Tony Kanaan in IndyCar and Gabby Chaves in Firestone Indy Lights.  

Dave was kind enough to write about his experience on Race Day at the  Indianapolis 500 and TSO thought that now, as Tony Kanaan continues to compete in the 2013 IndyCar season, it would be a good time to share Dave’s story.”  

Knowing David, I was thrilled to see his story documented and fortunately for me, the people at TSO have allowed me to share it with the readers of  SpeedwaySightings

IndyCar Racing is not an occupation for David, but a vocation. Since becoming active in IndyCar Racing in the very late 1990s, David has not only been a member of several IndyCar and IndyCar Lights Championship winning teams, but given the opportunity, he writes periodically as one of the Trackside Online team of reporters.  If you want the inside story of what’s going on during the IndyCar season, you can’t go wrong by subscribing to Trackside Online — I have been a paying subscriber for several years and it’s minimal cost has paid for itself many, many times over.  If you are so inclined to sign up for some terrific IndyCar Racing content, tell them Billy from Philly sent you …

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Winning the Indianapolis 500: A Spotter’s Story …

By Dave Reininger

With 30 laps to go in the 97th Indianapolis 500, I stopped spotting for Tony Kanaan. While that is not 100% accurate, it’s pretty close. TK had his hands full during those last laps as his opponents made their challenging bids for the lead, but it was almost as if he knew what they were going to do. He obviously knew where they were and didn’t he need that information from his spotter. I shut up.

Keeping the 11 car out of trouble was still my responsibility and despite the urge to watch the race, I had to concentrate to ensure the track was clear from Turn 4 to Turn 2. When the leaders disappeared from view halfway through Turn 2, I focused my binoculars on Turn 4 and awaited their return to my area of responsibility. The Turn 3 spotter covers from Turn 2 to Turn 4. Like any other race fan, I just wanted to watch the race unfold beneath my perch located high atop the roof of E Stand. More than once I had to tell myself, ‘just do your job, do your job.” I knew TK would do his job, just as the crew had done their job in the pits.

Ryan Hunter-Reay’s spotter was standing near me and he saw the wasn’t saying about what his driver was doing. I think he shut up too.

It was an epic dogfight and obviously, I’m glad my dog won.

On Saturday night before the 500, I was sitting in the stands at Anderson (IN) Speedway waiting for the start of the Little 500. It would be my first Little 500 (I’ve always gone to the Night Before the 500 at IRP) and I would be spotting for five time Indianapolis 500 starter Jimmy Kite. When the start of the race was delayed due to weather, I was thinking, ‘what have I got myself into?’ I needed to be at the Speedway early the next morning for the most important race of the year. It was a 30 minute delay before Jimmy lined up in his starting position on Row 10. I called “green, green, green,” looked to Turn 1 for the inevitable first turn crash (which didn’t happen) only to look back to Turn 4 to see Jimmy hitting the car on his outside. The guy on the outside flipped, Jimmy tore a corner off his car, and the guy who hit Jimmy, sending him into the flipping driver on the outside, sailed away unscathed. Jimmy’s night was done and when the rain returned, so was everyone else.

I was home by 9:30 on the night before the 500. Within an hour the phone rang and the crew wanted to know if I would be available to spot on Sunday night. I agreed to return to Anderson on Sunday night and the crew member added, “unless you win the 500.”

I said, “Yeah, right.”

The crew was able to repair Jimmy’s car, and the Little 500 was completed on Sunday night. Jimmy finished 14th with former Indy Lights driver Geoff Dodge in his ear. Although he lives in Speedway, Geoff is racing the regular weekly Saturday night program at Knoxville, Iowa.

About 7 years ago I bought a house at 21st and Auburn in Speedway, Indiana. I share a property line with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (we back up to Lot 2). On race day I got up around 7 am. My first duty is to check on the yard to see how the parking is going. Based on years past, I know there are folks parked in the yard as early as 5:30 am. My daughter is my “property manager,” selling reserved spaces on Craigslist for 30 bucks a pop. She even purchases spots from the neighbors for 20, sells them on Craigslist for 30, and makes 8 bucks after PayPal takes their 2 dollar cut. Is this a great country or what? The neighbors are happy to sell their spaces, the parkers are happy with having a reserved space and we’ve no complaints. The system works well.

(Save those virtual rotten tomatoes for her, I have nothing to do with it except that I am glad to see the kid make a few extra bucks.)

I was in the garage by 9:30 or so and immediately checked on my two radios, one for communication with the driver and one for listening to race control and communicating with the crew. My crew radio was acting up and we changed some cables which made it better. It still wasn’t great. As it turned out, I never once had to communicate with the pits.

When the green flag dropped TK, who started 12th, passed 7 cars on the first lap. Hildebrand crashed on the third lap and on the restart, TK passed two more cars. He was running third when he decided to make a run for the lead. The car was awesome from the first day of practice. TK was happy with his car on May 10. There was one day mid-week when I saw some long faces around the garage but he was happy on the final day of practice too. On Carb Day he ran for 20 minutes and said, “Put it away.” The crew wanted to try one more thing and he ran two more laps before coming on the radio saying, “I’m telling you, put it away.”

They put it away. 

TK ran out front for much of the first stint but that cost the team as he was one of the first to pit. The penalty for leading was at least one lap per stint.

It was better to run second or third in another driver’s draft, saving fuel to stretch that stint an extra lap or two.

During the first few stints drivers were seeing what they had, checking their cars and allowing their competitors into the lead in order to save fuel. The last two stints were flat out racing.

When Dario crashed with two laps to go, the other spotters came over to congratulate me. At that point I had not assessed the situation and had not determined how long it would take to clean up the mess. Besides, the car had not crossed the finish line and we ALL know ANYTHING can happen. I high-fived and shook hands and while I can’t say it was surreal, it certainly was out of place. We hadn’t won anything yet.

He crossed the finish line and it was official. I have been told if the tears don’t run down your cheeks, it’s not crying. I’d be lying if I told you my eyes didn’t well up.

The photo session for the winning team is scheduled for 9 am Monday. The lines of photographers were in place well before the car arrived at the yard of bricks around 9:15. The sponsors went first, taking group photos, followed by team owners, family members and finally the entire KV Racing team. Group shots of the 11 crew were followed by individual shots of each crew member with TK and the Borg Warner Trophy. It is truly a memorable event.

The photo session is important to me because of my love for the Speedway, its history and traditions. That’s why I missed the post race celebration at Sensu in downtown Indy. Sensu opens at 10 pm and I understand the birds were chirping when some made it home Monday morning. I didn’t realize Sensu opened at 10 until I tried to get in around 8:30. Instead I treated my sister, who was all dressed up for the occasion, to a shrimp cocktail at St. Elmos. My wife opted to stay home as my sister was pretty psyched to see her big brother win the Indy 500. Sensu was still closed when we returned a few minutes after 10 and we headed back to Auburn Street.

When I left Virginia on May 9 I contemplated taking my clothes. You know, the clothes; the sport jacket, the tie, the nice trousers. But wouldn’t that be too presumptuous of me? Wouldn’t that jinx the team?

I didn’t want to jinx the team.

My wife took almost two hours. Despite the time, she went easy on the wallet, finding an outfit at the Kohls in Speedway. She even got new shoes. I had a pair of dress shoes at the Speedway house from an American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association (AARWBA) banquet, so I was set in that department. Finding a 52 long at Kohls wasn’t going to happen so we were off to the big and tall shop at Castleton Corner. I took one hour to shop but the dent in the wallet was bigger.

Walking the red carpet took place at 5, followed by a dinner and then the awards presentation. After the banquet a quick return to reality was in order. I loaded my van for the long 10 hour drive back to Virginia. Done my midnight, I was on the road by 9:30 and back in Northern Virginia by 8:30 Tuesday evening, one day later than originally anticipated.

During the awards presentation, Josef Newgarden talked about how hard he worked for nothing. He finished 28th on Sunday. The driver faces the most adversity when the car’s handling is off a bit. Struggling through a 500 mile race, or any race for that matter, makes for a long day. It’s the same for the crew. If the driver is mired in traffic the spotter’s job is more difficult. The pit crew struggles to find the right changes to make the car better and it’s a long day for everyone.

The opposite is true. When everything is right, and it was for Tony Kanaan on that Sunday, the day is a breeze when compared to slogging around laps down to the leader. I’m not saying it’s easy to win the Indianapolis 500, far from it. The fact that the car was good from day one is a testament to the crew and their level of preparation for the race. KV Racing got it right. The pit stops were flawless. Everyone remained calm throughout the race and the entire event. With Tony running in the top five for most of the race my job as a spotter was made much easier.

You have to pay your dues when you first start spotting. You don’t start with one of the top teams. I’ve spotted for drivers when their car was absolutely diabolical. When the leaders come to lap your driver you want to scream, “Duck, here they come again!”

With Tony Kanaan, during the last 30 laps of the Indianapolis 500, the only thing I said was, “Way to go, Champ.”

 

Copyright 2013 TrackSide Online — www.TrackSideOnline.com — All Rights Reserved.

AstorCup

GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma

Race Weekend: Friday September 15 — Sunday, September 17

Track: Sonoma Raceway, a 2.385-mile permanent road course in Sonoma, California

Entry List: GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma

Race Distance: 85 laps / 202.7 miles

PushtoPass Parameters: 150 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 15 seconds per activation.

Firestone Tire Allotment: Seven sets primary, four sets alternate. Teams must use one set of primary and one new set of alternate tires in the race.

Twitter: @RaceSonoma, @IndyCar, #IndyCar, #GoProGP

Event Website: www.SonomaRaceway.com/

INDYCAR Website: www.IndyCar.com

2016 Race Winner: Simon Pagenaud

2016 Verizon P1 Award Winner: Simon Pagenaud, 1 minute, 16.2565 seconds, 112.594 mph.

Qualifying Record: Simon Pagenaud, 1:16.2530, 112.599 mph, Sept. 17, 2016 (set in Round 1 of qualifying)

NBCSN Telecasts: Practice 2, 5 pm ET Friday, Sept. 15 (live); Qualifying, 6:30pm ET Saturday, Sept. 16 (live); Race, 6:30pm ET Sunday, Sept. 17 (live). Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer for NBCSN alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Pit reporters are Jon Beekhuis, Katie Hargitt, Kevin Lee and Robin Miller.

Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network Broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Davey Hamilton. Nick Yeoman (Turn 7) and Jake Query (Turn 9) are the turn announcers with Dave Furst, Rob Howden and Dan Rusanowsky reporting from the pits. All Verizon IndyCar Series races are broadcast live on network affiliates, Sirius 214, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indyCarRadio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile App. All Verizon IndyCar Series practice and qualifying sessions are available on IndyCar.com, IndyCarRadio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile App.

Video Streaming: All practice sessions not covered by Television will stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com and the INDYCAR YouTube Channel

INDYCAR Mobile App: Verizon’s INDYCAR Mobile App is available across all carriers. Exclusive features for Verizon Wireless customers will stream live through the app and include enhanced real-time leaderboard and car telemetry; live in-car camera video streaming for select drivers during Verizon IndyCar Series races; live driver and pit crew radio transmissions during races and live Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network audio streaming during all track activities.

AtTrack Schedule (all times local):

Thursday, Sept. 14

10am-Noon – Verizon IndyCar Series testing, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (timing only)
2-6pm – Verizon IndyCar Series testing, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (timing only)

Friday, Sept. 15

10am-10:45pm – Verizon IndyCar Series practice 1, RaceControl.IndyCar.com
2:15-3pm – Verizon IndyCar Series practice 2, NBCSN (live)
3:05-3:20pm – Verizon IndyCar Series pit stop practice

Saturday, Sept. 16

11 – 11:45 am – Verizon IndyCar Series practice 3, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (live)
3:30 – 4:45pm – Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying (3 rounds of knockout qualifying), NBCSN (live)

Sunday, Sept. 17

11:30am – Noon – Verizon IndyCar Series Warmup, RaceControl.IndyCar.com
3:10pm – Driver introductions
3:30pm – NBCSN on air
3:43pm – Start engines command
3:50pm – GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (85 laps/202.7 miles), NBCSN (live)

CHAMPIONSHIP FACTS:

Josef Newgarden leads the Verizon IndyCar Series championship with one race to go for the 1st time in his career. Newgarden took the championship lead following his win at Mid-Ohio on July 30.

• Josef Newgarden leads Scott Dixon by 3 points with Helio Castroneves (-22) and Simon Pagenaud (-34) just behind. With 104 maximum points available this weekend, the championship could likely be a winner-take-all situation for any of the top 4 drivers.

• There are 7 drivers mathematically eligible for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series championship: Josef Newgarden, Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, Alexander Rossi and Graham Rahal. Dixon has won 4 Verizon IndyCar Series championships (2003, ’08. ’13, ’15), while Power and Pagenaud have each won the Verizon IndyCar Series championship once. Power in 2014, while Pagenaud in 2016. Newgarden, Castroneves, Rossi and Rahal have never won the championship.

• This is the 12th consecutive year that the Verizon IndyCar Series champion will be determined at the final race of the season.

• This is the 14th Indy car race at Sonoma. The winning driver at Sonoma has won the championship three times in the prior 13 races (Dario Franchitti in 2009, Scott Dixon in 2015 and Simon Pagenaud in 2016).

Key Championship Point Statistic: This is the 12th straight season that the Verizon IndyCar Series Championship will be decided in the final race.

Point Differential: The 3 points that separate Josef Newgarden and Scott Dixon atop the standings is the closest margin with one race to go since 2007 when Dario Franchitti led Dixon by 3 points. The closest margin with one race to go was 2006 when Helio Castroneves led Sam Hornish Jr. by one point. The average deficit with one to go since 2006 is 19.6 points. The 22 points between Newgarden and third-place Helio Castroneves is the closest margin between 1st and 3rd since 2009 when just 8 points separated the top 3.

Championshipeligible Drivers Results at Sonoma: Josef Newgarden has never finished in the top 5 at Sonoma. He recorded his best finish (6th) in 5 starts in 2014; Scott Dixon has 6 top-five finishes in 12 starts, including wins in 2007, 2014 and 2015; Helio Castroneves has 6 top-five finishes in 12 starts, including a win in 2008; Simon Pagenaud has 3 top-five finishes in 6 starts, including his win in 2016; Will Power has 4 podium finishes in 6 starts, including wins in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

RACE NOTES:

• There have been 10 different winners in the 16 previous Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2017: Sebastien Bourdais (Streets of St. Petersburg), James Hinchcliffe (Streets of Long Beach), Josef Newgarden (Barber Motorsports Park, Streets of Toronto, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Gateway Motorsports Park), Simon Pagenaud (Phoenix Raceway), Will Power (INDYCAR Grand Prix, Texas Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway), Takuma Sato (Indianapolis 500), Graham Rahal (Raceway at Belle Isle-1 and 2), Scott Dixon (Road America), Helio Castroneves (Iowa Speedway) and Alexander Rossi (Watkins Glen International). A new winner at Sonoma would equal the Indy car all-time record of 11 in a season, which has occurred 3 times, most recently in 2014. Bourdais’ win at St. Pete on March 12 gave him sole possession of 6th on the all-time Indy car victory list with 36 wins. Dixon’s win at Road America on June 25 was his 41st career victory and he will tie Michael Andretti for 3rd all time with his next win. Castroneves’ win at Iowa on July 9 ended a 54-race winless streak and gave him sole possession of 12th all- time with 30 wins. Power’s win at Pocono on Aug. 20 gave him sole possession of 9th on the all-time list with 32 wins.

• The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma will be the 11th road/street course race of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule with 7 drivers winning the previous 10 races: Sebastien Bourdais (Streets of St. Petersburg), James Hinchcliffe (Streets of Long Beach), Josef Newgarden (Barber Motorsports Park, Streets of Toronto, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course), Will Power (INDYCAR Grand Prix), Graham Rahal (Raceway at Belle Isle-1 & 2), Scott Dixon (Road America) and Alexander Rossi (Watkins Glen International).

• The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma will be the 14th Indy car race at Sonoma Raceway. Simon Pagenaud is the defending race winner. This will be the 6th race on the 12-turn, 2.385-mile layout. The Verizon IndyCar Series competed on a 12-turn, 2.303-mile layout from 2005-2011.

• Will Power and Scott Dixon are the only drivers to win at Sonoma more than once. Dixon won the race in 2007, 2014 and 2015, Power won in 2010, 2011 and 2013. Past winners Dixon, Power, Tony Kanaan (2005), Marco Andretti (2006), Helio Castroneves (2008) and Simon Pagenaud (2016) are entered in this year’s race.

• Will Power has won 5 of the last 7 pole positions at Sonoma (2010-12 and 2014-15). Other past pole winners entered this weekend are Scott Dixon (2006), Helio Castroneves (2008) and Simon Pagenaud (2016). Four drivers have won the race from the pole: Castroneves (2008), Dario Franchitti (2009), Power (2010-11) and Pagenaud (2016).

• Three drivers have competed in every race at Sonoma since Indy cars returned to the track in 2005: Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan. Dixon is the only driver to complete every lap in those 12 races.

Team Penske has won at Sonoma six times, including five of the last seven races with Will Power (2010-11 and 2013), Ryan Briscoe (2012) and Simon Pagenaud (2016). Chip Ganassi Racing has won four times at Sonoma (Scott Dixon in 2007, 2014-15 and Dario Franchitti in 2009) and Andretti Autosport has won twice (Tony Kanaan in 2005 and Marco Andretti in 2006).

• At least three rookies – Jack Harvey, Ed Jones and Zachary Claman DeMelo – are entered. Jones has already clinched Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors for 2017. Claman DeMelo is attempting to make his Verizon IndyCar Series debut.

Tony Kanaan seeks to start his 282nd consecutive race this weekend, which would extend his Indy car record streak that began in June 2001 at Portland. Teammate Scott Dixon has made 223 consecutive starts heading into the weekend, which is the second-longest streak in Indy car racing. Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti has made 199 consecutive starts, which is the fourth-longest streak in Indy car racing and the most of any driver to start their Indy car career.

Helio Castroneves will attempt to make his 344th career Indy car start, which ranks third on the all-time list. Tony Kanaan is fourth all-time with 342 starts heading into the weekend.

Alexander Rossi & his Andretti Herta Autosport Team win the Grand Prix at The Glen — IndyCar Image by Chris Owens

Zach Veach Completes the Ladder with Andretti Autosport
Mazda Road to Indy veteran will pilot No. 26 Honda in 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series championship
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JGS_3792-1INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 13, 2017) – Starting in 2018, Zach Veach will take the wheel of the No. 26 Honda Indy car as the fourth entry in Andretti Autosport’s Verizon IndyCar Series effort. Veach has raced in every step of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder with Andretti Autosport, including a career-best Indy Lights championship finish of third in 2014.

“We are excited to give Zach the opportunity to show what he can do at the highest level, and I’m looking forward to welcoming him home, so to speak,” said Michael Andretti, CEO, Andretti Autosport. “Zach started his INDYCAR career with us in USF2000 and has driven in every step of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder with Andretti Autosport. He’s a driver that has always impressed me. Zach works hard, and he takes something away from every time he’s in the car – he’s constantly improving. He’s put the effort in, found success at every level and now his dream has come full circle.”

The 22-year-old American driver made his Verizon IndyCar Series debut April 23, 2017, at Barber Motorsport Park and his Indy 500 debut at this year’s 101st Running.

“I’ve been thinking about this day since St. Petersburg in 2010 when I sat beside Michael Andretti announcing that I’d be competing in USF2000 for his team,” said Veach. “To be driving in the Verizon IndyCar series with them is a dream come true and I can’t wait to get started.”

Veach is the fourth driver confirmed to an All-American Verizon IndyCar Series field for Andretti as he joins Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28 DHL Honda), Alexander Rossi (No. 98 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda) and Marco Andretti (No. 27 Honda). The 2018 season goes green on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, March 11.

CGR

Image  —  Posted: September 14, 2017 in Uncategorized

Takuma Sato and Michael Andretti — IndyCar Image by Shawn Gritzmacher

INDIANAPOLIS (Sunday, May 28, 2017) – Many wondered if an experienced Formula One driver competing for Andretti Autosport could win the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. It happened, just not by the one some expected.

Takuma Sato capped off another thrilling Indianapolis 500 that featured a record number of drivers leading the race. The driver of the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda edged three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves to the finish line by 0.2011 of a second to become the first Japanese winner of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

Sato passed Castroneves for the lead on Lap 195 – the last of 35 lead changes in the 200-lap race on the historic 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval and the seventh straight year that the decisive pass for the Indy 500 lead occurred in the last six laps. Sato held off aggressive charges from Castroneves, the driver of the No. 3 Shell Fuel Rewards Team Penske Chevrolet, in the sixth-closest finish in Indy 500 history.

After spending seven years in Formula One, Sato came to the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2010. His only previous Indy car victory was in 2013 with AJ Foyt Racing on the streets of Long Beach, California. Sato joined Andretti Autosport this season, and his first oval win today is the fifth for Andretti Autosport in the Indianapolis 500 – including three in the last four years.

“It’s such a privilege to win here,” said Sato, who crashed while battling eventual winner Dario Franchitti for the lead on the final lap of the 2012 Indy 500. “So whether it was the first attempt or eighth attempt or you had a drama in the past, it doesn’t really matter. Winning today, it’s just superb.

“But, yes, I do feel after 2012 I really needed to correct something I left over. Today, I was so happy that I made it and won in a good move.”

Sato is the 71st driver to win an Indianapolis 500 in its 101 runnings. The best previous finish by a Japanese driver was fifth by Tora Takagi in 2003.

Helio Castroneves cracks a smile following his runner-up finish in the Indianapolis 500 — IndyCar Image by Mike Harding

Castroneves overcame a black-flag penalty for jumping a restart and dodged mayhem in two race incidents to finish second at Indy for the third time – making him one of seven drivers with three Indianapolis 500 runner-up finishes. It is the 41st second-place finish of the Brazilian’s 20-year Indy car career, which ranks second all time.

“The Shell Fuel Rewards Chevy team almost got it done today,” said Castroneves, attempting for the 8th straight year to join A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears as four-time Indy 500 winners. “It was so close.

“I say, ‘great job’ to my guys,” added Castroneves, who recovered from his worst Indy 500 start (19th) and the pit drive-through penalty to finish runner-up. “They worked their tails off, we saw it all today. We were in the back and we led some laps. We avoided disaster and we almost got (win) No. 4.”

Dale Coyne Racing rookie Ed Jones finished a career-best third. Like Castroneves, Jones had to climb from the rear of the field after having the rear wing assembly on his No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda replaced during a pit stop.

“We kept pushing on, kept making up positions,” the 23-year-old from Dubai said. “I had a great Dale Coyne Racing car underneath me the whole way that got me to make those passes. … Congrats to Sato. I didn’t really have the pace for him and Helio at the end, but we did the best we could.”

Fernando Alonso was the most heralded rookie coming into the race. The two-time Formula One champion, who bypassed today’s F1 Monaco Grand Prix to fulfill a dream to drive in the Indy 500, started fifth, ran up front most of the day and led 27 laps in the No. 29 McLaren-Honda-Andretti Honda. Alonso’s race came to a premature conclusion 24th place with a mechanical issue after 179 laps.

“Obviously disappointed not to finish the race because every race you compete, you want to be at the checkered flag,” Alonso said. “Today, (it) was not possible. Anyway, (it) was a great experience, the last two weeks. I came here basically to prove myself, to challenge myself. I know that I can be as quick as anyone in an F1 car. I didn’t know if I can be as quick as anyone in an Indy car.

“Thanks to INDYCAR, an amazing experience,” the 35-year-old Spaniard added. “Thanks to Indianapolis, thanks to the fans. I felt at home. I’m not American, but I felt really proud to race here.”

Despite going a lap down early with handling issues, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Max Chilton led the most laps (50) before finishing fourth. It was the best showing of the 26-year-old Brit’s two-year Verizon IndyCar Series career.

“I don’t think anyone has ever won this race without a little bit of luck,” said Chilton, driver of the No. 8 Gallagher Honda. “When we did end up getting out front, the car was really quick and you can see why this place is so special and so electric in that moment. … To come from a lap down to lead and have a chance to win here at Indy is a massive accomplishment for the whole team.”

A total of 15 drivers led the event, breaking the record of 14 set in 2013.

The race was slowed by 11 cautions periods for a total of 50 laps. A red flag stopped action for 19 minutes to repair the SAFER Barrier and catch fencing in the short chute between Turns 1 and 2. It was the result of a Lap 53 collision between Jay Howard and pole sitter Scott Dixon that vaulted Dixon’s car into the safety materials on the inside of the track. Neither driver was injured.

“I’m just a little beaten up,” said Dixon, driver of the No. 9 Camping World Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing. “It was definitely a bit of a rough ride.

“I was hoping that Jay was going to stay against the wall, but obviously, there was the impact. I had already picked that way to go and there was nowhere else to go to avoid him. It was definitely a wild ride. Big thanks to the Holmatro Safety Team, INDYCAR and Dallara and everyone for the safety standards we have on these cars.”

Buddy Lazier was involved in a single-car incident on Lap 122. The 1996 Indy 500 winner spun and contacted the Turn 2 SAFER Barrier in the No. 44 Lazier Racing-StalkIt-Tivoli Lodge Chevrolet. Complaining of chest discomfort, Lazier was transported to IU Health Methodist Hospital, where he was treated and released.

The final caution flag waved on Lap 184 when the cars of James Davison and Oriol Servia touched in Turn 2, sparking a five-car incident that also collected James Hinchcliffe, Josef Newgarden and Will Power. None of the drivers was injured.

Sato becomes the sixth different winner in as many Verizon IndyCar Series races this season and jumps to third place in the standings. Castroneves leads with 245 points while reigning series champion Simon Pagenaud, Sato and Dixon each has 234. Alexander Rossi is fifth in points with 190 after finishing seventh today.

The Verizon IndyCar Series travels to the Raceway at Belle Isle Park for next weekend’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix, the only doubleheader weekend on the 2017 schedule. The races air at 3:30 p.m. ET June 3 and 4 on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

 

INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, May 25, 2017) – Verizon IndyCar Series driver Sebastien Bourdais, injured in a crash May 20 during a qualifying attempt for the 101st Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, was discharged from IU Health Methodist Hospital on Wednesday and has been moved to a local rehabilitation facility.

Bourdais sustained multiple pelvic fractures and a fractured right hip when his No. 18 GEICO Honda crashed into the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2 on the third lap of his qualifications attempt Saturday. The Dale Coyne Racing driver underwent successful surgery that evening at IU Health Methodist Hospital.

“Sebastien is progressing amazingly fast for having pelvis and hip fractures, and considering the severity of the crash,” said orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kevin Scheid, an INDYCAR medical consultant. “He is walking with crutches, in good spirits and feeling good.

“We expect the fractures to heal in around eight weeks and he should be able to start putting weight on the right leg then. Until that time, he can work on rehabilitating his upper body, core strength and range of motion in the hip.”

Bourdais, the 38-year-old four-time Indy car champion, expressed his gratitude to everyone involved in his care from the time of the incident.

“I’m obviously really happy to be up on my feet and feeling pretty good about being able to walk on crutches,” Bourdais said. “I’m really thankful to all the people at IU Health Methodist and the Holmatro Safety Team, everybody at INDYCAR and my team, Dale Coyne Racing, for helping me achieve that so early after the crash.

“It’s going to be a bit of a long road ahead,” he added. “I still have six weeks before I can put weight on my right leg and put my foot on the ground, but after that it should be pretty smooth sailing. I’m really looking forward to the day I can get back in the car, and hopefully that will be before the end of the season. I look forward to seeing you guys at the track.”

Updates on Bourdais’ condition will be released when available.