Skip to content

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

May 25, 2014, 3:20 PM EDT

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. IndyCar: Penske drivers off to Verizon HQ; CFH ones to Mid-Ohio today

    Sep 30, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    MAVTV 500 Getty Images

    A busy day for members of two IndyCar teams, as Penske and CFH drivers head to New Jersey and Mid-Ohio, respectively.

  2. It’s been two years since Kobayashi’s Suzuka podium with Sauber (VIDEO)

    Sep 30, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Brazil - Previews Getty Images

    Two years ago, Kamui Kobayashi stood on an F1 podium in his home country, with Sauber. It seems so long ago, now.

  3. Stats of note heading into Suzuka

    Sep 30, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Sebastian Vettel AP

    Some of the stats of note as we head into the Japanese Grand Prix.

  4. IndyCar: What’s Honda’s next move, driver-wise?

    Sep 30, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Honda Indy Toronto - Day 1 Getty Images

    Honda has Ryan Hunter-Reay, but losing Simon Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden are big blows from marketing and on-track standpoints.

  5. NASCAR AMERICA: Tony Stewart still shaken following fatal crash (VIDEO)

    Sep 29, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT

    Tony Stewart Press Conference Getty Images

    NBCSN’s Marty Snider has more from Stewart’s press conference today in North Carolina.

  6. NASCAR AMERICA: Jeff Gordon, 24 team make statement at Dover (VIDEO)

    Sep 29, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

    AAA 400 Getty Images

    Instead of racing to protect his position in the Chase, Jeff Gordon went into attack mode Sunday at Dover – and it paid off with a win. Check out his Victory Lane interview with NASCAR AMERICA’s Kelli Stavast here.

  7. Everything you need to know about the 2014 Chasers at Kansas

    Sep 29, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    Kevin Harvick AP

    All the notes and numbers to keep in mind as the Contender Round begins on Kansas’ 1.5-mile oval.

  8. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA recaps Dover, Tony Stewart presser at 7 p.m. ET

    Sep 29, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT

    AAA 400 Getty Images

    Coming up: Highlights from the first cut race of the Chase; reports on Kevin Harvick’s tire failure and Hendrick Motorsports; Tony Stewart speaks about trying to carry on after his involvement in a fatal sprint car accident.

  9. F1: Kevin Magnussen prepared for future – whatever it may be

    Sep 29, 2014, 5:45 PM EDT

    Kevin Magnussen AP

    Time will tell if K-Mag will have a sophomore season in F1. But he reckons that if he didn’t do well this year with McLaren, he wasn’t cut out for the series in the first place.

  10. IndyCar Driver Review: Josef Newgarden

    Sep 29, 2014, 5:15 PM EDT

    newgardenpost Getty Images

    Josef Newgarden ends P13 in 2014, after a year where an overall top-10 finish was possible.

  11. NASCAR: Dale Jr. hails ‘Dinger, Almirola after they’re eliminated from Chase

    Sep 29, 2014, 4:47 PM EDT

    AAA 400 - Practice Getty Images

    A nice display of sportsmanship after a tough day at the Monster Mile.

  12. IndyCar Driver Review: James Hinchcliffe

    Sep 29, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT

    James Hinchcliffe AP

    It was a tough year for James Hinchcliffe, who ended P12 in the IndyCar points.

  13. F1: Mercedes prepares for Suzuka, homestretch of World Championship fight

    Sep 29, 2014, 3:33 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Qualifying Getty Images

    Hamilton hopes to join the list of famous names that have won at Suzuka, while Rosberg turns the page on his disappointing Singapore Grand Prix.

  14. IndyCar Driver Review: Ryan Briscoe

    Sep 29, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT

    Briscoe072914 Getty Images

    Ryan Briscoe’s return to IndyCar was quiet, clean and productive.

  15. Pagenaud: “It’s a tremendous opportunity for my career”

    Sep 29, 2014, 3:05 PM EDT

    PowerPag AP

    Simon Pagenaud leaves the past behind, and readies for Team Penske opportunity.

  16. NASCAR: Successful Challenger Round in the books for Joey Logano

    Sep 29, 2014, 2:15 PM EDT

    AAA 400 - Practice Getty Images

    Lack of bonus points notwithstanding, Logano’s pleased about where he and his No. 22 Team Penske crew stand going into the next round of the Chase.

  17. Weekend wrap-up: Was first Chase elimination race an exciting one?

    Sep 29, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    Jeff Gordon AP

    Also: Tony Stewart opens up; IndyCar’s Simon Pagenaud jumps to Team Penske; and the stage is set for a wild season finale in Red Bull Global Rallycross.

  18. Stewart: Racing is healing, and Dover was best run in a while

    Sep 29, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    StewartDover Getty Images

    P14 for Tony Stewart at Dover felt like one of his better runs of the season, he explained Monday.

  19. Tony Stewart speaks, cites overwhelming support in the search of return to normalcy

    Sep 29, 2014, 12:10 PM EDT

    StewartMon929 Getty Images

    Tony Stewart addresses the questions, and faces the media, in Charlotte.

Video from NASCAR America

Gordon: Win was great team statement
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. Gordon (1608)
  2. K. Harvick (1406)
  3. T. Stewart (1077)
  4. K. Busch (998)
  5. J. Logano (916)