Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Montoya makes in two out of three in dramatic dramatic Indy 500

Juan Pablo Montoya took his second Indianapolis 500 crown in just three starts on Sunday with a thrilling rally from the back of the field to head home team mate Will Power by just 0.1 seconds.

The Colombian, who last won the race in 2000 - his rookie year, had qualified 15th on the grid and was hit by the Andretti-Honda of Simona de Silvestro during the first caution period, sending him into the pits for a whole new rear bodywork assembly.

After also missing his pit box, Montoya's hopes didn't fade, the former F1 race winner battled his way through the pack, eventually catching up with the leaders before the halfway point.

The race saw a pair of early casualties, with Conor Daly failing to make the start due to a fire in his SPM-Honda, while Ganassi's Sage Karam was wiped out on the first lap in a collision with Takuma Sato which brought out that first caution.

After the caution period, the race developed into a straight fight between Ganassi's Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan and the Penske trio of Simon Pagenaud, Will Power and Montoya, although it was pole-sitter Dixon who was the most dominant. The New Zealander would eventually finish the race having led the most laps (84).

Further caution periods came on lap 61, when sprint car champion Bryan Clauson tagged the wall, and lap 112 when Oriol Servia and Ed Carpenter collided at turn one.

It was during the yellow flag for the Servia/Carpenter crash that an incident on pit lane occurred involving all three of Dale Coyne's entries.

James Davison was released into the path of Pippa Mann, tagging the back of the Brit's car, sending him straight into the path of Tristan Vautier who was undergoing a pit stop at the time. The bizarre incident left one of Vautier's pit crew in hospital with a broken ankle and both Davison and Vautier out of the race.

Following the resumption of the race, it was still a straight fight between Ganassi and Penske for the win, although the Penske drivers now appeared more on par with the leading Ganassi duo after they looked stronger in the early stages of the race.

Despite leading 30 laps, Tony Kanaan exited the race on lap 151 when he spun into the wall, taking him out of the race.

Another driver who was in the thick of the lead battle, Simon Pagenaud, dropped back on lap 176 after hitting Scott Dixon under yellow flag conditions, brought about by a big crash involving Stefano Coletti, Jack Hawksworth and Sebastian Saavedra. Pagenaud was able to work his way back to the top ten after taking on new tyres during the stop to repair the damage.

In the closing stages of the race Dixon, who looked set for a dominant victory early on ended up fading, leaving Power and Montoya to battle for the win. Dixon eventually had to settle for fouth place after Ganassi team mate Charlie Kimball passed him for third, his best ever Indy 500 result. Third place also made him the highest finishing American in the race.

Power charged hard late on but Montoya held on to take his second Indy 500 crown. Second place for Power was the 2014 IndyCar champion's best ever result in the series crown jewel event.

Graham Rahal was the highest place Honda runner, finishing in fifth, ahead of Marco Andretti and the fourth Penske car of Helio Castroneves who, despite his three previous Indy 500 wins, never really figured in the fight for the win this year. JR Hildebrand, Josef Newgraden and Simon Pagenaud rounded out the top ten.

2014 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay failed to defend the win, coming home in 15th, one place ahead of rookie of the year Gabby Chaves. Hunter-Reay's Andretti team mate Carlos Munoz was the last driver to finish on the lead lap. He finished ahead of Justin Wilson, another Andretti entry, and Pippa Mann, who despite the incident in the pit lane that took out her two team mates, managed to finish the race, albeit three laps down.

The race featured 37 lead changes and 47 laps under caution - almost a quarter of the race distance. Charlie Kimball set the fastest lap (average speed) on Lap 102 with speed of 226.712mph.

There is no rest for the IndyCar circus who must now prepare for the Dual in Detroit, two races back-to-back, this weekend in America's spiritual home of the car.

With the Indy 500 victory adding to his earlier win in St. Petersburg, Juan Pablo Montoya leads the championship by 25 points ahead of Will Power. Scott Dixon is in third, 61 poins adrift of Montoya.

Image: IndyCar Media

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