Problems in the pits had heavy impact on race
Updated: Monday June 11, 2001 1:51 AM
INDIANAPOLIS (CNNSI.com) -- For a few drivers in the Indianapolis 500 field, a trip to the pits was ... well, the pits.
Two-time winner Arie Luyendyk stalled his car there twice. Tony Stewart lost the lead when he stopped on lap 148, and seven laps later, the race was delayed by rain.
The biggest loser, though, was Gil de Ferran, who twice was beaten out of pit road by teammate and winner Helio Castroneves.
"I thought I'd beaten him out," de Ferran said, describing his last pit stop. "I didn't want to slide all the way to the fast lane, so the engine kind of coughed a little bit and all of a sudden he was by me and that was enough."
Neither de Ferran nor any other driver posed another serious challenge to Castroneves.
It also wasn't the first time Castroneves' tactics were a factor.
Near the midway point of the race, Castroneves, whose crew was stationed directly behind de Ferran's on pit row, made another aggressive move, pulling directly into the fast lane. By doing that, Castroneves cut off both Stewart and Michael Andretti and beat out de Ferran.
He then was assessed a penalty, which gave Stewart the lead.
"We were a little bit ahead, so as soon as I left the pits, he started spinning the wheels. I didn't want to hit him, so I tried to avoid him," Castroneves said.
On lap 148, nine laps after Stewart was given the lead, Stewart returned to the pits for two tires and fuel. It cost him the lead, and on lap 155, the race was stopped for rain.
To Castroneves, the victory strategy seemed fairly easy: Win in the pits, win the race.
"We were in a battle on pit lane," he said. "My car also coughed a little bit on the last one and slowed down a little bit. Fortunately, everything ended up OK."
Sarah Fisher intended to get a little more race experience at Indy this year.
Instead, she wound up being the third driver out of the race and spent the final 192 laps in the garage area.
Fisher, who completed just 71 laps as a rookie last year at Indianapolis, managed only eight Sunday before she dropped below the white line, spun and crashed hard into the outside wall of turn 2 -- ending her day about 20 minutes into the race.
"It's just very disappointing," Fisher said. "We added some downforce to the race car, but this is basically our first shot at it. It's just the conditions that are making it loose."
Her accident came just a few minutes after pole-sitter Scott Sharp crashed on the first turn of the race.
Both Fisher and Sharp were not injured, but Scott Goodyear wasn't so fortunate.
He slammed into Fisher's car, which was sliding along the outside wall. Goodyear fractured his lower back and was hospitalized for observation overnight.
"I told him, 'Hey, the car got very loose,'" Fisher said. "He said, 'No kidding.'"
Most of May seemed to be going great for team owner Tom Kelley.
Scott Sharp won the pole. Mark Dismore qualified fourth, and Sharp's crew won the pit competition.
Sunday, however, was a different story.
After Sharp crashed on the first turn of the race, Dismore took the lead for much of the early part of the race. He led for 29 laps, but on Lap 93, Dismore had a problem with his gear box. By the time it was fixed, Dismore had lost six laps.
He finished 16th, five laps back, marking only the third time in five years a Kelley driver has finished the race.
Singing the praises
Elaine Irwin-Mellencamp, the wife of rock singer John Mellencamp, became the first woman to drive the pace car for the start of the Indianapolis 500.
"It was kind of like slow motion. I actually took a peek in my rear-view mirror," she said. "It was kind of surreal. The windows were rolled down and you could kind of hear everything."
Pit stopsRookie Felipe Giaffone finished 10th after starting from the last row. He was a substitute for Raul Boesel, who qualified the car. ... The combination of Eliseo Salazar's seventh-place finish, combined with Sam Hornish Jr.'s 14th place left Salazar 21 points behind in the IRL championship after the first four races. ... There were five accidents in the race, three in the first 18 laps. ... Teammates had finished 1-2 just two other times since 1962. The last teammates to achieve the feat were Arie Luyendyk and Scott Goodyear, driving for Jeff Treadway, in 1997. ... Michael Andretti, who finished third, became the eighth Indy driver to lead the race in three different decades. ... Davey Hamilton, who finished 23rd, is the only driver to start every IRL race. ... Sharp and Roberto Guerrero are the only Indy pole-sitters to not lead a lap. ... It was the second consecutive year the pole-sitter finished last. ... The last time rookie drivers won back-to-back Indy 500s was 1926 and 1927 when Frank Lockhart and George Souders won. Last year, Juan Montoya won as a rookie.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.