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. NASCAR: Reddit users provide snapshot of fan reaction to this year’s Chase

    Nov 25, 2014, 8:07 PM EST

    O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge Getty Images

    A post-season exit survey provides some very interesting fan data on NASCAR’s latest version of its post-season format.

  2. Steve Letarte: Greg Ives’ familiarity with Hendrick will help Dale Jr., 88 team prosper (VIDEO)

    Nov 25, 2014, 7:00 PM EST

    Iowa Speedway - Day 1 Getty Images

    The outgoing crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr. also talks about his successor needing to make his own mark.

  3. Delaware court commissioner delays Kurt Busch hearing to Dec. 16

    Nov 25, 2014, 5:45 PM EST

    Ford EcoBoost 400 Getty Images

    The Delaware family court hearing is a separate matter from the ongoing police investigation into allegations of assault against Busch by his ex-girlfriend.

  4. NASCAR: Mike Hillman Jr. named crew chief for Brian Scott’s XFINITY program

    Nov 25, 2014, 5:15 PM EST

    Chicagoland Speedway - Day 1 Getty Images

    Brian Scott gets a new crew chief for 2015’s XFINITY campaign.

  5. WATCH: NASCAR AMERICA Tuesday night at 5 p.m. ET

    Nov 25, 2014, 4:44 PM EST

    nascar america

    It may be Thanksgiving week but NASCAR AMERICA is still on tonight at 5 p.m. ET.

  6. Marcus Ericsson makes official Sauber debut in Abu Dhabi test

    Nov 25, 2014, 4:30 PM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Brazil - Previews Getty Images

    The ex-Caterham pilot runs 95 laps in the Sauber C33 at Yas Marina Circuit.

  7. GP2 champ Jolyon Palmer quick in first F1 test despite engine/technical woes

    Nov 25, 2014, 3:00 PM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Russia - Qualifying Getty Images

    Palmer logs only 37 laps for Force India in Abu Dhabi, but places fourth on the time sheets.

  8. Caterham banks a 100-lap day with Will Stevens Tuesday in Abu Dhabi

    Nov 25, 2014, 2:30 PM EST

    StevensAD1 Getty Images

    Caterham not only stays for test, but banks 100-plus laps on Tuesday in Abu Dhabi.

  9. Sainz makes strides, gains, in second Red Bull run

    Nov 25, 2014, 2:00 PM EST

    SainzAD1 Getty Images

    Carlos Sainz Jr. has a good day with Red Bull, as he stakes claim for Toro Rosso seat in 2015.

  10. After losing title duel, it’s back to business for Nico Rosberg

    Nov 25, 2014, 1:30 PM EST

    Nico Rosberg AP

    Rosberg pounds out 114 laps – the most of any driver – in Day 1 of testing in Abu Dhabi.

  11. As ever, there’s more talent in wings than available IndyCar seats

    Nov 25, 2014, 1:00 PM EST

    James Hinchcliffe AP

    IndyCar’s available pool of talent, as always, is larger than the number of remaining seats.

  12. Red Bull GRC champs Olsbergs MSE out for more hardware in World RX finale

    Nov 25, 2014, 12:30 PM EST

    FIAWRXChamp

    The Ford squad enters this week’s World RX finale down four points in their fight for the team championship.

  13. McLaren taking methodical approach in first real Honda running this week

    Nov 25, 2014, 12:00 PM EST

    VandoorneAD1 Getty Images

    McLaren-Honda gets out, with ideally more to come on Wednesday.

  14. Bottas leads as McLaren-Honda delayed on first day of Abu Dhabi test

    Nov 25, 2014, 11:36 AM EST

    BottasAD1 Getty Images

    One Mercedes team on top, one former Mercedes team gets install laps only.

  15. From 2013 to 2014, F1’s standings have featured a significant shakeup

    Nov 25, 2014, 11:00 AM EST

    ADstart AP

    Go inside the numbers of this year’s final F1 points standings.

  16. IndyCar: Davide Valsecchi confirms SPM December test

    Nov 25, 2014, 9:40 AM EST

    ValsecchiMoscow Getty Images

    Ex-Lotus reserve will have his first IndyCar test in December.

  17. Steve Letarte reflects on Hendrick Motorsports career in “exit interview” (VIDEO)

    Nov 24, 2014, 6:26 PM EST

    Pocono 400 Getty Images

    The future NASCAR on NBC analyst talks about how Rick Hendrick and his partnerships with Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have impacted his life.

Video from NASCAR America

Kevin Harvick's well deserved Sprint Cup
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. K. Kahne (2193)
  2. A. Almirola (1822)
  3. J. McMurray (1812)
  4. J. Gordon (1806)
  5. J. Johnson (1684)