The Indy 500 has remained relevant more through nostalgia than actual interest in recent history.
However, on Sunday, there was need for nostalgia to enjoy the action. Tony Kanaan's win following a great race highlights why this race became an American staple in the first place.
For starters, this was a nice win for one of the sport's classy competitors. This was Kanaan's first Indy 500 triumph, but it was not for lack of previous success at the event.
Heading into Sunday, the Brazilian had led 221 laps at the Indy 500. As the Associated Press notes, that was the third most laps led by a non-winner in the history of the Indy 500.
Kanaan had been close. He has one second place and two third place finishes at this event on his resume. Now, he can add a first.
All those near misses had to add some beauty to this moment, which IndyCar shared on Instagram:
Will this race help increase the popularity of next year's Indy 500?
It is a rewarding experience for race fans when a deserving driver breaks through for a huge win like this. But that isn't the only reason the 2013 version of The Greatest Spectacle in Racing lived up to that billing.
This was a fantastic race, and that certainly isn't always the case. Too often, the action is too spaced out with the lead of this race changing hands only due to mechanical failures or problems in the pits. This is a poor substitute for the actual on-track racing to determine the winner.
Well, there was plenty of on-track racing on Sunday.
There were a record 68 lead changes today. An Indy 500 record.— INDYCAR PR (@INDYCARPR) May 26, 2013
That included a thrilling finish. Following a caution, the race was restarted with just three laps to go. It was on the restart when Kanaan overtook Ryan Hunter-Reay, and he didn't look back.
This race wasn't just about the finish, either. It was tight all afternoon, which is certainly apparent in the record number of lead changes, and in this tweet by Motorsports insider Curt Cavin:
Best #Indy500 ever. Safe so far. Unbelievable action. Sooo close.— Curt Cavin (@curtcavin) May 26, 2013
The 2013 Indianapolis 500 was a prime example of how oval-track racing can thrill onlookers for an afternoon.