Sunday, 26 May 2013

At last, Tony Kanaan drinks the milk - 2013 Indianapolis 500 Review

Kanaan celebrates
Tony Kanaan finally claimed his first Indianapolis 500 win after a decade of heartbreak. The Brazilian, who spent the whole race running near the front, beat impressive rookie Carlos Munoz to the victory.

JR Hildebrand brought out the first caution
Ed Carpenter lead from pole position but was unable to build up a lead as JR Hildebrand crashed whilst battling James Hinchcliffe on only the fourth lap. When the race resumed on Lap 8 Carpenter continued to lead whilst under pressure from Andretti. Meanwhile, Tony Kanaan had moved up the field on the restart to take the lead on lap 9. Carpenter retook the lead two laps later  before conceding first place to Andretti after two more laps.

Kanaan took the lead early on
Andretti and Kanaan continued to swap the lead for the next few laps, amassing 8 lead changes by 25 laps. Kanaan broke away though, on lap 29, becoming the first driver to pit. Several other drivers followed, Andretti pitting on lap 31.

The second caution of the day came out on lap 36 when Sebastian Saavedra spun and hit the wall. The Colombian became the second retirement from the race with front right suspension damage.
With the race restarting on lap 44, Ed Carpenter once again led with Andretti once more in hot pursuit. The third generation driver passed for the lead into turn one before Carpenter retook it again afterwards.

Long Beach winner Takuma Sato brought out another caution on lap 57 after he lost the back end and spun coming out of turn one. Ryan Hunter-Reay led the field to the line on the restart but Andretti once more took the lead going into turn one. Sato managed to get going and was also able to restart the race.

Allmendinger was strong
At the halfway point, despite struggling with his car earlier on, AJ Allmendinger held the lead with Tony Kanaan right behind him, reigning champion Ryan Hunter-Reay in third. Early race leaders Marco Andretti and Ed Carpenter were fourth and eighth respectively. Allmendinger continued to lead for the next ten laps, building a lead just short of half a second. The California native pitted on lap 113 with a suspected cut tyre and an undone seatbelt, going a lap down and handing the lead to Marco Andretti again.

As drivers underwent pitstops, the lead switched between Andretti, Kanaan, Hunter-Reay,Townsend Bell and James Hinchcliffe s. by Lap 131, there were 39 lead changes, a record, and 12 different leading drivers, one short of the all time record. Lap 145 saw Helio Castroneves sweep past Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti to become to record 13th different leader of the Indy 500.

On lap 179 Sebastien Bourdais pitted, but locked his brakes upon entry, hitting the wall damaging his front wing and front suspension. The caution flag didn't come out and the race continued with rookie Carlos Munoz leading as the fast Andretti cars of Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti pitted.

In the final stages, Tony Kanaan, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Carlos Munoz and Marco Andretti all battled to claim their first Indy 500 win with none of them able to hold onto the lead for more than a lap. To add to the excitement, Graham Rahal hit the wall bringing out a caution with 7 remaining.

Franchitti's smash ended the race
The race resumed for a 3 lap dash to the finish with Tony Kanaan leading from Carlos Munoz. The yellow came straight back out though as last years winner, Dario Franchitti, crashed.

The race ended under yellow flag conditions with Kanaan finally taking the victory in his twelfth attempt of the Indy 500. The victory being even more impressive considering Kanaan was racing with ligament damage to his right thumb after a crash earlier in the season at Long Beach.

Munoz had an outstanding debut
Rookie Carlos Munoz capped off an impressive IndyCar debut by finishing in second,  reigning series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay was third after leading his first laps at Indianapolis whilst despite dominating large parts of the race, the Andretti Curse struck once again with Marco Andretti coming home in fourth. Britain's Justin Wilson was the highest finishing Honda runner, capping off a quiet race with a fifth placed finish. AJ Allmendinger finished his debut Indy 500 in seventh, just behind his Penske team mate Helio Castroneves. Simon Pagenaud and Charlie Kimball were next to finish with pole sitter Ed Carpenter rounding out the top ten.

Despite an earlier spin, the points leader going into the race, Takuma Sato finished 13th, Sao Paulo winner James Hinchcliffe finished a lowly 21st despite leading some laps. 3 time Indy 500 winner, and reigning Indy 500 champion Dario Franchitti was classified in 23rd place despite his crash bringing out the race ending caution. GP3 regular Conor Daly finished his first Indy 500 one place ahead of Franchitti in 22nd.

Andretti leads the championship
Marco Andretti comes away from Indy leading the points standings, 11 points ahead of Takuma Sato. Helio Castroneves is in third whilst 2012 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay is fourth. His team mate James Hinchcliffe, the only two-time winner this season, is fifth.

The race broke records for Leaders, lead changes and highest average speed with 14 leaders, 68 lead changes and average speed of 187.433 mph.

The next event in the IndyCar schedule is in a weeks time with the first double header event on the streets of Belle Isle in Detroit. Scott Dixon won the single race there in 2012 and will be looking to claim his first win of 2013 in Motor City. His team mate Dario Franchitti will also be hoping for a change of fortune, the Scot yet to take his first win this season.

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