Penske wins 11th Indy as Castroneves, de Ferran finish 1-2
INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Team Penske achieved redemption in the 85th Indianapolis 500 as Helio Castroneves defeated teammate Gil de Ferran for Roger Penske's record 11th win.
CART teams swept the top six positions in what would have to be considered a bad day for the rival Indy Racing League. Michael Andretti was third followed by Jimmy Vasser and Bruno Junqueira. Tony Stewart was sixth and will compete in Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Winston Cup race. Six cars finished on the lead lap.
It was the second year in a row an Indianapolis 500 rookie has won the race. Juan Montoya, another CART driver at the time who is now in Formula One, won last year's race. He was the eighth rookie to win the Indy 500. Ray Harroun was the first winner in 1911. The others were Jules Goux in 1913, Rene Thomas 1914, Frank Lockhart in 1926, George Sounders in 1927 and Graham Hill in 1966.
In the closing 100 miles of the race, the IRL's best hope was Robbie Buhl, who was running in second place in hot pursuit of Castroneves. Buhl's charge ended when he spun out of the second turn on the 166th lap and backed into the infield retaining wall. The leaders pitted on lap 168 and the race was restarted on lap 172 with Castroneves in front of de Ferran and Michael Andretti.
Castroneves started a new tradition at Indianapolis by jumping out of the car at the start/finish line and climbing the fence at the start/finish line, despite protests by IRL officials over the exuberant burst of emotion.
Earlier, a rain shower stopped the Indianapolis 500 on the 155th lap of the 200-lap race. Castroneves was the leader followed by Buhl, de Ferran, Vasser and Tony Stewart. At the time of the red flag, the race was five laps short of the 400-mile mark. But after the brief shower, the sun came out, the track was quickly dried and the race resumed.
Stewart took the lead on the 137th lap when the field pitted under caution following Cory Witherill's spin out of the fourth turn in front of traffic on lap 135. Amazingly, no other cars hit Witherill's sideways machine. When the leaders pitted on lap 137, Castroneves and de Ferran both pulled out in the fast lane of traffic, which caused Stewart and Andretti to slow up. Race officials ordered the positions reversed, which put Stewart in the lead because both Penske drivers had impeded traffic out of the pits.
The race restarted on lap 140 with Stewart ahead of Castroneves, de Ferran, Andretti and Buhl.
Six laps later, Buhl passed de Ferran for third. Andretti suffered a damaged front wing and nose of the car when he hit debris, so when Donnie Beechler's engine blew up, the yellow flag waved. The leaders pitted on lap 149 and Castroneves was able to get out of the pits first. The race was red-flagged six laps later.
At the 300-mile mark, Team Penske was running 1-2 with de Ferran leading Castroneves. Andretti, was third followed by Stewart and CART driver Jimmy Vasser. Earlier, on lap 103, Andretti passed Greg Ray for the lead. Ray brushed the wall after Andretti made the pass and the damage caused Ray to drop back in the field.
Four laps later, rookie Jon Herb crashed to bring out another caution period. Two laps later, Andretti gave up the lead when he pitted. On lap 110, it began to sprinkle at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway which kept the cars running under the yellow flag. The race was restarted on lap 119 with Ray in the pits.
Ray was hoping to win the Indianapolis 500 for the first time in his career and was the leader of the Indianapolis 500 at the halfway point. The race was marred by three crashes in the first 18 laps Sunday.
Through the first 100 laps, the lead had changed hands nine times. Mark Dismore was the leader when the yellow flag waved on lap 90 for debris. After Dismore made a pit stop on lap 93, his car stopped on the track on the 94th lap to continue the yellow. The green flag waved on lap 97 with Ray ahead of Andretti, de Ferran, Buhl and Robby Gordon.
Sam Hornish Jr. spun out of the fourth turn on the 18th lap and two-time Indy 500 winner Al Unser Jr. tried to avoid the spinning car. He crashed into the outside wall in the fourth turn to bring out the third yellow flag.
There was only one green flag lap out of the first 23 laps. Sarah Fisher touched the inside white line after nine laps and took out Scott Goodyear at the re-start. Goodyear was admitted to Methodist Hospital suffering a fracture in his lower back. Pole-sitter Scott Sharp was also low on the track on the opening lap and lost control of his car after sliding on the white lane.
Sharp became the first pole-sitter since Roberto Guerrero in 1992 to crash out on the opening lap as the race got underway at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in front of 400,000 spectators and a worldwide television audience.
The green flag waved under cloudy skies and cool weather after heavy rains have plagued the central Indiana area for most of the week. Sharp reached the first turn and hit the wall. Guerrero crashed on the parade lap in 1992. Andretti was the leader on the 50th lap, but pitted on lap 54, giving the lead to Mark Dismore. Dismore led until the 75th lap, when he pitted. That put Ray in the lead.
Ray pitted on lap 81 to give the lead to Andretti, who pitted two laps later to put Dismore back in the lead. Although the CART drivers smoked the IRL in the biggest race in the world, the IRL formula engine and chassis package produced an extremely competitive race with tight racing throughout the event with 15 lead changes. The last time Penske attempted to compete in the Indianapolis 500, his two drivers at the time -- Al Unser Jr. and Emerson Fittipaldi -- failed to make the field in 1995.
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