Indianapolis Motor Speedway Image by Eric Anderson

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Image by Eric Anderson

So ends my Month of May … as many of you know, I choose not to work on race day, spending my time with my family, in our seats on the main straightaway … we always arrive at the break of dawn to see the sun come up over the backstretch, being unbelievably thankful for the blessing of spending time together because of the sacrifice of those who have protected America.

With those thoughts in mind I will quietly slip into the shadows for a bit and spend time with Amy and our grandchildren. I will leave you in the hands of the terrifically talented scribes who bring auto racing alive, Gordon Kirby, John “Oreo” Orevicz, Jeff Olson, Andy Hallbery, Art Garner and so many more that there isn’t enough room here to list.

Needless to say my good friend Donald Davidson forever keeps the light of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway burning bright.

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The finest words I have ever read about this place and the world’s most important race day are from the final radio sign-off of Sid Collins …

“So now, the 60th running of the 500 here is now history. Since 1911, the hypnotic effect of speed upon driver and spectator alike is never dim. The run from the green flag to the checkered and on to Victory Lane here is a pursuit only one man in the world can accomplish once a year. Today, once again, Johnny Rutherford etched his name and his achievement upon the granite of time. He reigns supreme as the champion of the sport of auto racing this day and forever more. The massive crowd of more than 350,000 has threaded its way towards the exit gates as their eyes have taken a final sweep over the track before departing. For some, this has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience, others will come back, but in every case, it’s always difficult to relinquish one’s grasp on the pulsating emotion that is the 500. And at this microphone we share that reaction of having to say goodbye to you across the many miles that separate us. But, another icy Indiana winter will come and go, and before we know it, springtime returns, it will be May, and the roar of engines will once again breathe life into the lazy Hoosier sky and bring us back together. God willing, I’ll be here to greet you for this annual reunion through our mutual love of auto racing and the Indianapolis 500…

… And now this final thought for our winner. Enthusiasm with wisdom will carry a man further than any amount of intellect without it. The men who have most-powerfully influenced the world have not been so much men of genius, as they have been men of strong conviction with an enduring capacity for work coupled with enthusiasm and determination. Johnny Rutherford showed these qualities today in becoming victorious over the Indianapolis 500…

… So until next May, this is Sid Collins, the Voice of the 500, wishing you good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, depending upon where in the world you are right now. We’re here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, at the Crossroads of America. Goodbye.”

Alexander Rossi toasts with ice cold milk in Victory Circle following his win in the 100th -- IMS Image by Eric Anderson

Alexander Rossi toasts with ice cold milk in Victory Circle following his win in the 100th — IMS Image by Eric Anderson

INDIANAPOLIS (Sunday, May 29, 2016) – On the biggest motorsports stage imaginable, Alexander Rossi picked the perfect day to make unimaginable history before a sellout crowd at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a worldwide television audience tuned in.

The 24-year-old Californian and Verizon IndyCar Series rookie literally coasted across the finish line to win the epic 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in most memorable fashion.

Driving the No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Honda, Rossi stretched his last tank of fuel over the final 36 laps around the hallowed 2.5-mile oval, running dry of Sunoco E85R as he entered Turn 4 on the final lap. The car’s momentum was enough to carry Rossi across the finish line 4.4975 seconds ahead of teammate Carlos Munoz.

In the process, Rossi became the 10th rookie in Indianapolis 500 history to win the race and the first since Helio Castroneves in 2001. He became a Verizon IndyCar Series winner in just his sixth race and the first to win a race in his debut season since Carlos Huertas in 2014.

“I have no idea how we pulled that off,” a stunned Rossi admitted in Victory Circle after drinking and then pouring the celebratory bottle of milk over his head. “We struggled a little bit in the pit stops but Bryan (Herta) came up with an unbelievable strategy. I can’t believe we’ve done this!”

In yet another thrilling Indianapolis 500 that saw 13 drivers swap the lead 54 times – the second most changes in Indy 500 history (68 in 2013) and seventh most for any Indy car race – Rossi led just 14 laps. The majority of the field, including Rossi, stopped for fuel and tires on Lap 164 during the caution period caused when Takuma Sato’s No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda made light contact with the Turn 4 wall.

Rossi sat seventh on the Lap 167 restart and bided his time as those ahead of him began to peel off for a splash of fuel in the final 10 laps. When race leader Munoz had to stop four laps from the completion of the 200-lap event, Rossi inherited the lead and nursed his car home with help of a tow from another Andretti teammate, Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Rossi’s final lap averaged 179.784 mph, nearly 40 mph slower than the charging Munoz, but he had cushion enough to coast across the famous yard of bricks by the largest margin of victory since the 1996 race.

“This is unbelievable,” said Herta, whose team merged with Andretti’s this year to form Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian and field Rossi, who left the American open-wheel junior ranks for Europe and made five Formula One starts in 2015 before returning to race on home soil.

“Man, it was so close at the end,” added Herta, Rossi’s race strategist. “For a rookie to drive with the poise he did in such a tough situation – I was telling him, ‘Don’t let anybody pass you but save fuel’ – and he did it.”

Rossi’s deal with Andretti Herta wasn’t formalized until a few weeks before the 2016 season opener. His best finish before today was 10th at the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 14. Now Rossi is an Indianapolis 500 champion and he continues a trend of rookies winning landmark Indy 500s started by Ray Harroun at the first race in 1911 and Graham Hill at the 50th in 1966.

“I don’t even know where to begin,” Rossi said. “In February I wasn’t even thinking about Indy car, and now we’ve just won the Indy 500. Thanks to an amazing group of people who gave me an opportunity to come here this year.”

The Indy 500 win was the fourth for Andretti Autosport (Dan Wheldon, 2005; Dario Franchitti, 2007; Hunter-Reay, 2014) and the second for Herta (Wheldon, 2011).

“After that last pit stop, I knew that Alex was going to try it,” co-owner Michael Andretti said. “We knew then, all right, if he’s going to try it, we’re going to try different strategies. It really worked out. We had two cars that had a shot at winning with two different strategies.

“To be a part of history, to win the 100th running, to win it with a 1-2 finish is incredible. I’m a bit speechless.”

For Munoz, it marked his second runner-up Indy 500 finish in four tries. The Colombian placed second to Tony Kanaan in 2013 to earn rookie of the year honors.

“I was really disappointed when it comes to fuel (strategy) and you lose the race because of that,” the 24-year-old said. “I was really disappointed to get second. Half a lap short, that’s what it took.”

Josef Newgarden finished third in the No. 21 Preferred Freezer Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing.

“Today’s gut-wrenching just because I think I had a winning car,” Newgarden said. “And when you know you have a winning car and you know you can win the thing and you go for it and it doesn’t happen because of a strategy call, it’s kind of tough.”

Kanaan was fourth in the No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing, leading 19 laps. It was the 12th Indy 500 that Kanaan has led, second only to A.J. Foyt’s 13. Charlie Kimball, also driving for Ganassi, finished fifth in the No. 42 Tresiba Chevrolet.

Defending Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya finished 33rd after crashing his No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet into the Turn 2 SAFER Barrier on his own on Lap 64. Montoya became just the third reigning winner to finish last at Indy, joining Jimmy Bryan in 1959 and Johnny Rutherford in 1977.

“I started making up some ground again and the car was actually pretty good,” said Montoya, who started 17th. “I went into (Turn) 2 with a big push and, when I got on the gas, it just came around. It’s just disappointing. Our Verizon Chevy was really good. Just a tough day.”

Hunter-Reay led a race-high 52 laps but had his bid for victory stifled following an incident on pit lane. Teammate Townsend Bell ran into Helio Castroneves on pit road and Bell’s car caromed into that of Hunter-Reay, who finished 24th.

Championship leader Simon Pagenaud finished 19th to end a three-race win streak. The Team Penske driver saw his points lead trimmed to 57 over Scott Dixon, who finished eighth. With double points awarded for the race in addition to qualifying points, Pagenaud has 292 to Dixon’s 235 after six of 16 races.

Castroneves failed for the seventh time to become a four-time Indy 500 winner, finishing 11th and retaining third place in the standings with 224 points. Newgarden vaulted from eighth to fourth in the championship with 211 points.

The next event on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule is the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, featuring the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit, the only doubleheader race weekend on the 2016 calendar. The June 4 and 5 races air at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

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Kohler Co. will be the title sponsor for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ return to Road America, which will be known as the KOHLER Grand Prix. The green flag will fly on the event at approximately 12:15 pm CST on June 26.

“Kohler Co. is pleased to serve as the title sponsor for the KOHLER Grand Prix for the Verizon IndyCar Series at historic Road America. Verizon IndyCar events are among the most exciting in motorsports today as evidenced by the recent sell out of the 100th Indianapolis 500,” said David Kohler, President and CEO of Kohler Co. “Kohler shares this passion and enthusiasm and we are excited to welcome Verizon IndyCar fans to our home to take part in the return of IndyCar racing at Road America, one of the most beautiful and unique tracks in the world.”

Founded in 1873 and headquartered in Kohler, Wisconsin, Kohler Co. is one of America’s oldest and largest privately held companies comprised of more than 30,000 associates. With 48 manufacturing locations worldwide, Kohler is a global leader in the manufacture of kitchen and bath products; engines and power systems; premier furniture, cabinetry and tile; and owner/operator of two of the world’s finest five-star hospitality and golf resort destinations in Kohler, Wisconsin, and St Andrews, Scotland. The Kohler courses have hosted six Major golf championships to date, including the record-setting 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, and will host the Ryder Cup in 2020. Kohler’s Old Course Hotel in St Andrews served as host-hotel for the 2015 British Open. Kohler recently broke ground on LODGE KOHLER, a hotel development within the new Titletown District in Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin.

“Kohler is a great fit for Road America,” said George Bruggenthies, Road America’s president and general manager. “They have a very unique brand that has been instrumental to Road America’s success through previous partnerships and initiatives while remaining dedicated to supporting the local area. We feel that Kohler Co. will incorporate itself very well in the racing community through this entitlement and we are very excited to have them on board in such a prestigious capacity.”

The Verizon IndyCar Series’ KOHLER Grand Prix takes center stage at Road America June 23-26 as an international lineup of drivers will have their chance to battle it out for glory on one of the world’s most revered road courses. The first IndyCar race at Road America took place in 1982, when Hector Rebqaue was crowned as the winner. In 2000, Dario Franchitti set the track record with a lap of 1 minute, 39.866 seconds (145.924 mph) set in qualifying for the 2000 race. Legendary drivers Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi have each won three times at Road America, while Jacques Villeneuve and Paul Tracy were two-time winners on the high-speed course.

Ten current Verizon IndyCar Series drivers have raced on the circuit, with Sebastien Bourdais winning the last Indy car race there in 2007 under Champ Car sanction.

“I am really excited to see Road America back on the 2016 Indy car schedule,” said Bourdais, a four-time Indy car champion who currently drives for KVSH Racing. “This place allows our cars to stretch their legs fully and show what the Verizon IndyCar Series is all about. For me, it is the best racetrack in North America and I have some great memories there, including the win in 2007, and I am looking forward to coming back.”

Tickets are still available and additional event details; ticket pricing, a tentative event schedule and camping information can be found at www.roadamerica.com or by calling 800-365-7223. New for 2016, anyone 16-years-old and under are FREE with a paying adult at the gate. All races will run rain or shine.

Borg-Warner Trophy during the final Indy 500 practice on Miller Lite Carb Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- Photo by Chris Owens

INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, May 28, 2016 – Information about the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on Sunday, May 29, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

— Please note, all activities Sunday are weather permitting —

SCHEDULE (All times local)

5am – Exterior parking lots open to the public
6am – Cannon signifies opening of track. All gates and inside IMS parking lots are open
6am – 12:20 p.m.: IMS Midway open
6am – Noon: Ticket office open

7am – Snake Pit gates open
7:30 – 8:40am – B.O.A.T. concert at Snake Pit
7:45am – Band begins playing outside museum west door

8-9:15 am – Parade of Bands
8-10am – Borg-Warner Trophy March to the Bricks. Begins at basement door of IMS Museum.
8:30-10am – Celebrity red carpet
8:45 – 10:10am – DJ Mustard concert at Snake Pit
9:34am – Purdue Band Leads Borg-Warner Trophy March to the Bricks
9:45am – 500 Festival princess lap
10:06am – “On The Banks of the Wabash” performed by Purdue University Band – Victory Circle
10:15-11:45am – Zeds Dead concert at Snake Pit
10:29am – Green Flag delivered to Turn 1 by IU Health helicopter

10:40am – Former Indy 500 Champion Laps – A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, Rick Mears, Bobby Unser, Johnny Rutherford, Emerson Fittipaldi, Arie Luyendyk, Dario Franchitti, Parnelli Jones, Mario Andretti, Tom Sneva, Danny Sullivan, Bobby Rahal, Al Unser Jr., Kenny Brack, Gil de Ferran, Buddy Rice, Sam Hornish

10:41am – All cars are placed on grid (pit lane is cleared for laps)

10:57am – Historic Race Car Laps: 1911 Marmon Wasp – Al Unser, 1912 National – Mark Dismore, 1914 Duesenberg – Tom Sneva, 1922 Duesenberg – Sarah Fisher, 1923 Miller – Hurley Haywood, 1928 Miller – Danny Sullivan, 1933 Ringling & Henning – Wally Dallenbach, 1935 Pirrung Special – Lyn St. James, 1939 Maserati – Gil de Ferran, 1946 Thorne Special – Tony George, 1947 Blue Crown Special – Stephan Gregoire, 1949 Blue Crown Special – Sam Hornish Jr, 1952 Agajanian Special – John Andretti, 1958 Demler Special – Paul Goldsmith, 1959 Watson – Simoniz Polish Special – Geoff Brabham, 1964 Sheraton Thompson Special – A.J. Foyt IV, 1965 Lotus – Dario Franchitti, 1965 Brawner Hawk – Mario Andretti, 1970 Johnny Lightning Special – Al Unser Jr., 1973 STP Special – Buddy Rice, 1974 McLaren – Vern Schuppan, 1980 Chaparral Special – Johnny Rutherford, 1981 Norton Special – Bobby Unser, 1986 March – Bobby Rahal, 1990 Lola – Arie Luyendyk, 1992 Penske PC21 – Emerson Fittipaldi, 1999 Dallara – Kenny Brack, 2000 G-Force – Darren Manning, 2002 Dallara – Davey Hamilton, 2011 Dallara – Brian Herta, 1969 Lola T152 – Karl Kainhofer, 1972 McLaren – David Donohue

11:07am – Military Silverado laps
11:35am – Driver introductions
11:43am – Pearl Harbor veteran salute
11:47am – “America the Beautiful” performed by military trio with Purdue Band
11:55am – Presentation of colors
11:56am – Invocation – Archbishop of Indianapolis
11:57am – Rifle Volley – Victory Podium
11:57am – “Taps”
11:57am – “God Bless America” – performed by Indianapolis Children’s Choir
Noon – “National Anthem” – performed by Darius Rucker
12:02 p.m.: Military Flyover

12:05pm – “Drivers to Your Cars” – Florence Henderson
12:12pm – “Back Home Again in Indiana” performed by Josh Kaufman and Indianapolis Children’s Choir

12:15pm – “Lady and Gentleman – Start Your Engines”

12:19pm – 100th Running of the Indy 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil – 200 Laps

12:25pm – Skrillex Concert at Snake Pit
2pm – Martin Garrix Concert at Snake Pit
Post-Race – Victory Circle Ceremony

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STANDS GA: All mounds open

ALL STANDS RESERVED: Stands open to reserved seat ticket holders only. No general admission access in the stands.

DAILY PARKING (OPENS 5 a.m.): All IMS external and inside lots are sold out. Must have prepaid parking pass to use IMS parking.

MUSEUM HOURS: 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Admission for race ticket holders is $10 for adults and $5 for fans 6-15 years old, with children under 5 free.

***

Tickets now on sale for the Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational, Lilly Diabetes 250, the Crown Royal 400 at the Brickyard and the Red Bull Air Race. Fans have 3 quick methods to buy tickets:

Online: Visit www.ims.com/tickets. Tickets are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

Phone: Call 800-822-INDY or 317-492-6700 between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday.

In Person: Visit the IMS Ticket Office at the IMS Administration Building east of the 16th Street roundabout and outside Turn 1 of the oval between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday.

Tickets for groups of 20 or more also are available. Contact the IMS Group Sales Department at 866-221-8775 for more information.

Information on parking and camping at IMS events is available at www.ims.com/tickets.

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May 28, 2016

As the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil has approached, the history of the race has been celebrated by countless numbers of fans and media.

That history cannot be told without a salute to A.J. Foyt.

On Race Day, the first four-time winner of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” will offer a salute of his own to the 33 drivers who will compete in the 100th Running. Foyt will be stationed at the front of the grid and instruct the pace car and Row 1 to pull away for the Parade Laps, and as those drivers pull away followed by 30 more, Foyt will salute each one.

“A.J. Foyt has always been my favorite driver and I know so many of our fans hold him in the same regard,” Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles said. “The 100th Running is all about honoring our history and A.J. is such a significant part of that, we couldn’t have this race without him being part of it for our fans and for each of our drivers! We’re excited to have him salute the men and woman who will write our next chapter.”

Foyt, born in 1935 in Houston, Texas, started his professional racing career in USAC midget car competition before racing in the Indianapolis 500 for the first time in 1958. In 1961, he won his first Indy 500 in the No. 1 Bowes Seal Fast/Bignotti Trevis/Offy. Three years later, in 1964, he was a champion again.

Three years after that, in 1967, Foyt won again and this time in a rear-engined car, becoming the first and only man to win at Indy in both front- and rear-engine race cars. A decade later, in 1977, he became the first four-time winner, in the iconic No. 14 Coyote that he owned.

During his driving career, “Super Tex” also won the Daytona 500, the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a resume claimed by no other driver. He was named co-driver of the 20th century by the Associated Press, one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers and he has been inducted into every major motorsports Hall of Fame.

Foyt also won the Indy 500 as a car owner in 1999 with Kenny Brack. This year, AJ Foyt Enterprises has three entries in the race, driven by Takuma Sato, Jack Hawksworth and Alex Tagliani.

The legend has always said that the Indianapolis 500 made A.J. Foyt, not the other way around. On Sunday, he’ll salute the person who will become the next legend of the Indianapolis 500 – the winner of the 100th Running.

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Tony Kanaan leads Simon Pagenaud through Turn 1 during practice for the 100th Indianapolis 500 -- Image by Chris Owens.jpg

Ganassi Racing’s Tony Kanaan leads Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud through Turn 1 during practice for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 — Image by Chris Owens

INDIANAPOLIS (Friday, May 27, 2016) – He may be starting 18th in Sunday’s 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, but Tony Kanaan believes he has a car that can win the historic race.

Kanaan, who will start on the outside of Row 6 in the No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing, was fastest in today’s Miller Lite Carb Day practice with a best lap of 226.280 mph on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.

Carlos Munoz was second at 224.772 mph in the No. 26 United Fiber & Data Honda, just ahead of Kanaan’s teammate, Scott Dixon, third at 224.606 mph in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

“I’m happy with my car,” said Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 winner. “Obviously, I have to pass 17 people before I get really happy with my car. After the struggle in qualifying, we really focused – me and Dixon – on the race. And you can see both of us at the top there.

“If anybody counts us out (for Sunday’s race), it will be a big mistake.”

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Munoz, who will start the race from the middle of the second row, said Carb Day practice confirmed the strength of his car.

“Today was just a check to see the car was running good,” said Munoz, who finished second to Kanaan as an Indy 500 rookie in 2013. “Everything was running good. The conditions will be different on Sunday. Every practice and qualifying I’ve been on the top of the charts, but that doesn’t matter.”

Verizon IndyCar Series points leader Simon Pagenaud, riding a three-race winning streak, was 22nd in today’s practice with a speed of 222.581 mph in the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevy.

Juan Pablo Montoya, the reigning Indianapolis 500 champion and two-time race winner, was 13th at 223.571 mph in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevy. Teammate Helio Castroneves, the three-time Indy 500 winner, was 10th at 223.959 mph.

Will Power, runner-up to Montoya in last year’s race, had the fourth-fastest speed (224.384 mph) in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. Ryan Hunter-Reay was fifth (224.327 mph) in the No. 28 DHL Honda.

Pole sitter James Hinchcliffe was 12th fastest at 223.925 mph in the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda. More than 1,300 laps were turned in the 70-minute session, with Pagenaud and Charlie Kimball (No. 42 Tresiba Chevy) each logging 52.

The only incident of the session came when Pippa Mann spun and crashed in Turn 4, backing her No. 63 Susan G. Komen Honda into the SAFER Barrier. Mann was uninjured.

“I’m absolutely fine,” Mann said. “I really feel sorry for the crew. I was trying to find clean air in pack running there, got a little too low on the inside. Dropped the ball and gave them work to do overnight.”

“The good news is the damage wasn’t too bad,” Mann added. “Hopefully it’s the right rear corner, rear attenuator, rear wing and that’s all we have to fix.”

The 33 cars now sit idle until Sunday’s epic race. Coverage on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network begins at 11 a.m. ET Sunday.

Stoneman wins Freedom 100 in closest IMS oval finish in history

Andretti Autosport's Dean Stoneman beats Ed Jones by just two thousandths of a second in the Indy Lights Freedom 100 - Image by Walt Kuhn - IMS

Andretti Autosport’s Dean Stoneman beats Ed Jones by just two thousandths of a second in the Indy Lights Freedom 100 – Image by Walt Kuhn – IMS

Dean Stoneman edged Ed Jones by 0.0024 of a second to win the Freedom 100 in the closest finish in Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval history, in the premier event on the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires schedule.

Starting fifth, Stoneman pushed his way to second place by Lap 9 in the No. 27 Andretti Autosport Dallara IL-15. He passed pole sitter Jones for the lead on the next lap and, while Stoneman led 30 of the final 31 laps at the start-finish line, the pair swapped the point numerous times throughout the race.

Jones took the lead on the final restart, a one-lap shootout following a caution to retrieve the stopped car of Heamin Choi. Stoneman and Jones raced side by side heading into Turns 3 & 4 on the final lap, setting up a drag race down the frontstretch to the checkered flag. The margin of victory, a few inches.

“It was an amazing race,” said Stoneman, who collected his second straight Indy Lights win after capturing the second race of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis doubleheader May 14. “On that last lap it was pretty close. I knew in the race I was consistent and knew where to position my car to finish the race in the lead.”

Afterward, Jones felt he should have taken the outside line for the race to the checkers.

“I probably chose the wrong lane, it was my fault,” Jones said. “I feel like if I had gone outside maybe I would have held momentum and been able to hold him off. Unfortunately, I made the wrong call. That’s what cost us.”

Castronevescrew wins pit stop challenge record eighth time

IndyCar Pit Stop competition - Image by Mike Harding

IndyCar Pit Stop competition – Image by Mike Harding

Team Penske and driver Helio Castroneves won the TAG Heuer Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge, earning a $50,000 prize. Castroneves celebrated his eighth win in the contest by climbing the fence in front of the Tower Terrance grandstand.

Castroneves beat Mikhail Aleshin of Schmidt Peterson with Team Pelfrey in the final round. This is the 17th win for Team Penske in the annual competition for Indy 500 pit crews that started in 1977. The winner of the competition has gone on to win the Indianapolis 500 six times, most recently with Castroneves in 2009.

“I went for it. I was able to stop really deep,” Castroneves said. “I was able to slide in just perfect. The Pennzoil boys, the Team Penske boys, really. … they are the fastest. All the credit to those guys. Very happy to be part of this organization.”

The crew for Castroneves in the contest was made up of members from the cars of Castroneves and teammate Simon Pagenaud.

“This team has been outstanding in the pit stop competition,” team owner Roger Penske said. “They work every day at the shop. We took our best guys and put them together on the two cars. … This gives us momentum for Sunday.”

Hondas focus on Indianapolis 500 paying off

With cars running up front all month in preparations for the 100th Indianapolis 500 and eight of the top 12 starters in Sunday’s race, Honda officials are feeling confident. Art St. Cyr, president of Honda Performance Development, said today it has been a yearlong process involving engine development and improving its superspeedway aero kit under off-season rules that permitted changes in up to three “volume boxes.”

“We really worked hard, for 12 months really, on this particular race,” St. Cyr said. “We used two of our three allocated boxes for an aerodynamic standpoint on the race. We have a pretty major upgrade in our engine specification for this race.

“As you have seen, it’s been fairly competitive at this point. Our whole goal is to get all of our teams with a package that is capable of winning this race. All that you can hope for as a manufacturer is to have all of your teams really having a good package for this race.”

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ James Hinchcliffe is the first Honda driver to win the Indy 500 pole since Chevrolet re-entered Verizon IndyCar Series competition in 2012. The manufacturers have split the past four Indy 500 race wins, so the competition is intense.

“Part of Honda’s existence is to win at racing,” St. Cyr said. “It’s always our goal. It’s always our challenge. Whether we are behind, or whether we are ahead, we really work forward to try to win these races. Obviously, this is a big race for us, so we’d be very happy (to win.)”

Indy 500 Teams Salute Legend Rutherford on final weekend as Pace Car Driver

Johnny Rutherford's last Indianapolis 500 as the Pace Car Driver will be on Sunday -- Image by Jim Haines

Johnny Rutherford’s last Indianapolis 500 as the Pace Car Driver will be on Sunday — Image by Jim Haines

Johnny Rutherford, the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and longtime driver of the pace car in the Verizon IndyCar Series, was honored prior to Miller Lite Carb Day practice by drivers and crew members on a ceremonial lap along pit road.

Rutherford is turning over pace car duties following Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 to Sarah Fisher. He also received a special award from Firestone Racing commemorating “54 great years at Indy – 500 winner, driver coach and Pace Car driver” and a banner signed by all 33 drivers in the 100th running.

“(It was) a total surprise to me,” Rutherford said of the honorary lap around IMS. “I thought we were just going to go out and to do a radio check with the pace car. We did accomplish that, but when I pulled her out and saw all the crews and all the people (on pit road), it was fantastic. I was in total shock.

“When I retired (as an Indy car driver), I had the opportunity to start driving the pace car. It meant a lot to me because I can stay up close and personal and I get to lead the field. This year’s race will be something; it will be a dandy.”

Hondas T.EMcHale and Dan Layton share Jim Chapman Award

MIchael Knight, T.E. McHale, Dan Layton and Paul Page during the presentation of the Jim Chapman Award

Michael Knight, T.E. McHale, Dan Layton and Paul Page during the presentation of the Jim Chapman Award

T.E. McHale and Dan Layton, longtime representatives for Honda’s racing programs including the Verizon IndyCar Series, are co-recipients of the 2016 Jim Chapman Award for excellence in motorsports public relations. McHale and Layton were presented plaques for the honor this morning in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s media center, where a new permanent trophy was unveiled and will remain.

The Chapman Award honors the legendary PR executive and innovator who worked with Babe Ruth and was named Indy car racing’s “most influential man” of the 1980s.

McHale has been American Honda’s motorsports communications manager since 2003. He also reported on motorsports for the Mansfield (Ohio) News Journal from 1978-95 and worked on the public relations staff for CART through 2001.

Layton is in his 22nd year representing Honda in Indy car racing. He has also handled public relations duties in sports car racing and Formula Atlantics, among other series.