Skip to content

Ryan Hunter-Reay hangs on for Indianapolis 500 victory (VIDEO)

May 25, 2014, 3:20 PM EST

Ryan Hunter-Reay has captured the 98th Indianapolis 500 in a dramatic finish, holding off a final charge from Helio Castroneves after making a gutsy, outside pass into Turn 1 on the final lap for the lead.

Hunter-Reay held off Castroneves by just 0.0600 of a second, the second-closest finish in ‘500 history (1992), and won after starting 19th on the grid. The win is the first for Andretti Autosport since 2007 (Dario Franchitti) and the team’s third overall.

“It’s a dream come true, man,” RHR told ESPN’s Dr. Jerry Punch in victory lane. “This is just the most fantastic team for what they’ve given me. My dream has come true today and I’m a proud American boy, that’s for sure.”

After a Lap 195 restart, Castroneves and Hunter-Reay exchanged the lead several times. The 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series champion is the first American winner of the Indianapolis 500 since Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006 (which had been the second-closest finish). Unofficially, he should take over the 2014 points lead as well.

Marco Andretti finished third with Carlos Munoz fourth, Juan Pablo Montoya fifth and Kurt Busch sixth in his first Indianapolis 500, before he heads to Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600.

The race was more or less a fuel mileage battle over the first 149 laps, as the Indianapolis 500 set a record for the longest caution-free stretch in its illustrious race history. All of Hunter-Reay, Castroneves, Andretti, Montoya and Ed Carpenter were realistically in the mix for the lead, depending on when they pitted.

Montoya fell out of the lead pack following a Lap 131 pit stop where he had a pit speed violation, which also hit him at one NASCAR Brickyard 400 a number of years ago. Prior to that, he had been running three to four laps longer over the course of a stint, and was in prime position to win if the race stayed in a green flag flow.

But after Charlie Kimball’s half-spin on Lap 150 exiting Turn 2 brought out the race’s first caution – perhaps mercifully – things got wild, hairy and more yellow the rest of the way.

The fuel strategy game went out the window and by that point, the majority of the field pitted on Lap 153 for four tires and fuel. Carpenter, who didn’t pit on the sequence as he’d pitted eight laps earlier on Lap 145, assumed the lead on the restart.

Carpenter and Hunter-Reay exchanged the lead several times but the race didn’t stay green for long. Scott Dixon made an ultra rare unforced error as he smacked the wall exiting Turn 4, making hard left-side contact with the SAFER barrier on Lap 168.

During the yellow, rookie Martin Plowman contacted Josef Newgarden exiting Turn 3, which put Newgarden out of the race and ended the hopes of the popular “dark horse” pick.

Everyone would be good to go to the finish from there after making stops on Lap 170. Alex Tagliani temporarily stayed out in the second Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda, but pitted on Lap 174 before the restart.

The race’s most controversial incident occurred after the Lap 175 restart. Townsend Bell, who had driven a sterling race to that point in the No. 6 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet, was up to second and was involved in a three-wide scrap into Turn 1 with the top two starters in Ed Carpenter and James Hinchcliffe, who were running third and fourth.

Bell and Carpenter ran two-wide on corner entry with enough room for Hinchcliffe to at least consider sticking his car’s nose in for an attempt. Bell ran high but made slight contact with Carpenter, and Hinchcliffe’s dive into the corner meant that both drivers were out of the race. Bell continued in second behind new leader Hunter-Reay, who inherited the point after Tagliani’s pit stop.

After this accident, the race restarted once more on Lap 180, ran for a furious 10-lap stint, and then was halted again when Bell’s drive ended with contact in Turn 2.

Rather than stay under yellow for an extended period, INDYCAR opted to throw a red flag – similar to what was done at the 2012 season finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. – to ensure the chance of a green-flag finish.

A final six-lap scrap occurred from there that was more-or-less a slingshot battle, where it seemed that being second was probably a better position than being first. Indeed Hunter-Reay and Castroneves exchanged the lead several times, and despite Castroneves’ final charge he was unable to pass the similar yellow car for the win.

Behind the top six already mentioned – of which four were from Andretti Autosport – Sebastien Bourdais upheld some honor for KVRT in seventh, Will Power ended eighth, rookie Sage Karam turned in a fantastic debut from P31 on the grid to ninth for Dreyer & Reinbold Kingdom Racing with Chip Ganassi Racing (finished ahead of all four Chip Ganassi Racing cars) and JR Hildebrand rounded out the top 10.

Latest Posts
  1. Rico Abreu says there’s still a lot for him to learn after 1st stock car race

    Jan 25, 2015, 11:14 AM EST

    Credit: RicoAbreu.com Credit: RicoAbreu.com

    The Chili Bowl champion and future NASCAR K&N East driver assesses his night in a Super Late Model car at New Smyrna Speedway.

  2. MotorSportsTalk 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona Sunday blog

    Jan 25, 2015, 10:00 AM EST

    MSTblog2 Getty Images

    Sunday has dawned at the 53rd Rolex 24 at Daytona.

  3. Trey Canard wins Oakland Supercross, Ryan Dungey takes over 450SX points lead

    Jan 25, 2015, 2:10 AM EST

    trey_canard_supercross_2015_anaheim2_v2 Getty Images

    An early mistake from Ken Roczen shuffled him to the back of the field and resulted in him giving up the points lead.

  4. Malcolm Stewart records first career 250SX win at Oakland Supercross

    Jan 25, 2015, 1:55 AM EST

    malcolm_stewart_supercross_2015_phoenix Getty Images

    Cooper Webb retained the points lead in the 250 Class but had some pointed words for Tyler Bowers after the race.

  5. MotorSportsTalk 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona Saturday blog

    Jan 24, 2015, 11:10 PM EST

    Rolex24post1MST Getty Images

    The 53rd Rolex 24 at Daytona is now underway.

  6. Chili Bowl champ Rico Abreu finishes 13th in stock car debut (UPDATED)

    Jan 24, 2015, 10:50 PM EST

    Credit: RicoAbreu.com Credit: RicoAbreu.com

    UPDATED: A pair of disqualifications involving two of Abreu’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series East teammates elevate the Chili Bowl champion to a 13th place finish.

  7. Miss Sprint Cup Kim Coon moving into NASCAR radio coverage

    Jan 24, 2015, 7:06 PM EST

    SEMA Show NASCAR Announcement Getty Images

    Coon will work on MRN Radio’s live qualifying and race broadcasts in 2015.

  8. Life after Ferrari: Luca di Montezemolo could become head of Rome’s 2024 Olympic bid

    Jan 24, 2015, 5:23 PM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Italy - Qualifying Getty Images

    Since resigning from Ferrari last fall, Montezemolo has taken over as CEO of an Italian airline and joined the board of directors for F1’s controlling shareholder.

  9. Veterans’ assistance group working to buy Rockingham Speedway

    Jan 24, 2015, 3:08 PM EST

    Carolina 200 Getty Images

    Vets-Help hopes to not only host disabled veterans’ races at the track, but also build a residential complex and rehab center for vets and soldiers returning from war.

  10. NASCAR: Kyle Busch Motorsports responds to Rick Ren lawsuit

    Jan 24, 2015, 1:37 PM EST

    E-Z-GO 200 - Qualifying Getty Images

    Former team competition director alleges that KBM owes him bonus money and commissions from a pair of sponsorships he says he helped get for the team.

  11. F1: Lewis Hamilton keeps laying groundwork for career in music

    Jan 24, 2015, 12:39 PM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of USA Getty Images

    The reigning World Champ and aspiring R&B singer aligns with London PR firm that’s home to some of the world’s most popular musicians.

  12. Jamie McMurray loves sports car racing, but not the noise

    Jan 24, 2015, 11:32 AM EST

    It's no surprise that Jamie McMurray is wearing ear plugs also outside his race car during this weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona. (Getty Images) Getty Images

    NASCAR driver Jamie McMurray loves everything about racing sports cars, especially in this week’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, except for one thing — the noise.

  13. Rolex 24 2015 Preview: Shank versus the world?

    Jan 24, 2015, 9:00 AM EST

    ShankR24Preview Getty Images

    Against the odds, the key storyline heading into today’s Rolex 24 at Daytona is a P2 convert going up against DP teams for the overall win.

  14. More bad news for Dodge Hellcat: Trounced by all-electric Tesla in drag race

    Jan 23, 2015, 8:16 PM EST

    Dodge Challenger R/T Hellcat (Image courtesy Dodge.com) Dodge Challenger R/T Hellcat (Image courtesy Dodge.com)

    At 707 horsepower, the last thing anyone would likely think is that a Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat would lose a drag race to … an all-electric Tesla. But it’s true, sadly for Mopar fans.

  15. NASCAR AMERICA: Rick Hendrick on Jeff Gordon’s impact (VIDEO)

    Jan 23, 2015, 7:45 PM EST

    Rick Hendrick, Jeff Gordon AP

    The NASCAR team owner talks about his initial reaction to Gordon’s retirement decision, Gordon’s impact on the sport, and what his team’s plans are for after 2015.

  16. NASCAR America: Will Kyle Larson take over Jeff Gordon’s No. 24?

    Jan 23, 2015, 7:13 PM EST

    Kyle Larson Rolex 2015 Getty Images

    On Friday, the NASCAR America crew discussed potential candidates to inherit the No. 24 car with 2015 being Jeff Gordon’s final season. One interesting name came up, that of Kyle Larson.

  17. NHRA: Victory Motorcycles to enter Pro Stock Bike class in ’15

    Jan 23, 2015, 6:34 PM EST

    Matt and Angie Smith. (Photo courtesy NHRA) Matt and Angie Smith. (Photo courtesy NHRA)

    Victory Motorcycles will compete for the first time in the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle class in 2015, with husband and wife team Matt and Angie Smith heading up the effort.

  18. Rex White, NASCAR Hall of Fame driver — and storyteller

    Jan 23, 2015, 6:22 PM EST

    Rex White (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Rex White, to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame next Friday, wasn’t just a great driver, he’s also a great storyteller. We share some of his best tales with MST readers.

  19. NASCAR: Tony Stewart tweets offer to have Jeff Gordon race at 2016 Mudsummer Classic

    Jan 23, 2015, 5:48 PM EST

    Geico 400 - Qualifying Getty Images

    Gordon has left the door open to competing in other series when his full-time Sprint Cup career ends this fall.

  20. He’s so money: How lucrative has NASCAR become over Jeff Gordon’s career?

    Jan 23, 2015, 5:00 PM EST

    Jeff Gordon AP

    The four-time Sprint Cup champion isn’t the only NASCAR driver that’s gotten rich in the last two decades or so.

Video from NASCAR America

Gordon hesitant to call it 'retirement'
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. K. Schrader (1179)
  2. B. Vickers (1170)
  3. J. Clements (1156)
  4. C. Whitt (1143)
  5. K. Grala (1126)