INDIANAPOLIS – The finish was worth the wait for Ryan Hunter-Reay, who used a series of daredevil moves to deny Helio Castroneves a chance at history.
Hunter-Reay became the first American since 2006 to win the Indianapolis 500, passing Castroneves at the Yard of Bricks as the two bright yellow cars raced wheel-to-wheel under the white flag in a thrilling final lap. As Hunter-Reay surged ahead down the backstretch, Castroneves took one final look coming out of Turn 4 but couldn’t pull off the pass.
Hunter-Reay won by 0.060 seconds – the second closest finish in race history since Al Unser Jr. beat Scott Goodyear by 0.043 seconds in 1992.
“I’m a proud American boy, that’s for sure,” Hunter-Reay said in Victory Lane. “I’ve watched this race since I was sitting in diapers on the floor in front of the TV. This is American history, this race, this is American tradition.”
Castroneves, trying to become the fourth driver to win a record fourth Indianapolis 500, settled for second. He was devastated by the defeat and needed several moments to compose himself, slumped in his car, head down and helmet on, before he was ready to speak. The Brazilian said a caution with 10 laps to go that caused a red flag so track workers could clean up debris and make repairs to the track wall broke his rhythm.
“It was a great fight,” he smiled. “I tell you what, I was having a great time. Unfortunately second. It’s good, but second sucks, you know what I mean?”
Marco Andretti finished third and Carlos Munoz was fourth as Andretti Autosport had three cars in the top four, as well as the winner.
Kurt Busch, also in a Honda for Andretti, was sixth in his first race of the day. He left immediately after the race to fly to North Carolina for Sunday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race, where he was expected to run 600 miles in his bid to become just the second driver to complete 1,100 miles in one day.
Three other drivers made the attempt, but only Tony Stewart in 2001 completed The Double. Stewart was sixth at Indy and third at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
© The Canadian Press, 2014