Ryan Hunter-Reay raced to victory at the Indy 500 on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, holding off three-time champion Helio Castroneves in a magnificent finish.
The two drivers traded the lead over the last six laps, but Hunter-Reay's final daring pass to the outside of Castroneves was enough to get the checkered flag and sip the sweet victor's milk.
As would be expected, Twitter had plenty to say after Hunter-Reay rode to his first Indy 500 win. Greg Rakestraw of 1070 The Fan observed just how tight things were at the end:
Final margin of victory today: .0600 of a second. Second-closest #Indy500 finish ever.— Greg Rakestraw (@gregrakestraw) May 25, 2014
Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports was captivated by what transpired toward the race's conclusion:
ESPN's Stuart Scott provided his take on the pulse-pounding duel between Hunter-Reay and Castroneves:
What Helio Castranevas & Ryan Hunter Reay did the last 6-laps of the #Indy500 was as breathtaking as anything you'll see in sports!!!— Stuart Scott (@StuartScott) May 25, 2014
Phillip B. Wilson of the Indianapolis Star reported what Hunter-Reay said after the breakthrough win:
Ryan Hunter-Reay, "It's a dream come true, man. .... A dream has come true today. I'm a proud American boy, that's for sure."— Phillip B Wilson (@pwilson24) May 25, 2014
ESPN Stats & Info highlighted how long it'd been since a U.S. native had won:
Ryan Hunter-Reay: 1st American-born driver to win Indy 500 since 2006 (Sam Hornish Jr.)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 25, 2014
Tim Sullivan of the Courier-Journal relayed how long the lead changed hands:
#Indy500 finishes with four lead changes in last five laps between winner Ryan Hunter-Reay and runner-up Helio Castroneves.— Tim Sullivan (@TimSullivan714) May 25, 2014
It was an extraordinary effort from Hunter-Reay, who overcame qualifying in 19th position and hung tough early without the aid of yellow flags. As it turned out, he proved capable of steering his yellow 28 car for Andretti Autosport better than his prolific peers.
Graham Rahal, who had technical problems with his car and settled for an abrupt exit in 33rd place, congratulated his good friend in Hunter-Reay:
An interesting and dramatic spectacle unfolded at the 98th edition of the premier open-wheel race, and it lived up to the hype to say the least. IndyCar Media Relations noted the unprecedented, swift pace the drivers were cruising at through the first half of the race:
Not until the 149th lap was a yellow flag drawn, per MotorSportsTalk.com's Tony DiZinno:
Collective exhale and breath from the field after 149 caution-free laps. Wow. #Indy500— Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno) May 25, 2014
But then there were two additional ones down the stretch, the final one of which saw Ed Carpenter, who won the pole in qualifying, spin out coming into a three-wide turn out of the second caution with James Hinchcliffe. The two were vying for second place, but their bold moves wound up knocking both of them off the track for good.
NASCAR analyst Tom Bowles weighed in on the crash:
You have to feel for Ed Carpenter. Out of the three cars in that three-wide #indy500 mistake that's the one that could have won the race.— Tom Bowles (@NASCARBowles) May 25, 2014
Jim Lefko of the Indianapolis Star documented what a furious Carpenter had to say about Hinchcliffe afterwards:
"Good thing he already had a concussion last week:" -- Ed Carpenter about James Hinchcliffe.— Jim Lefko (@jimlefko) May 25, 2014
Who will be the 2014 IndyCar Series champion?
In the previous four Indy 500s, the action ended in an anticlimactic manner under caution. Multiple stoppages toward the end suggested that the trend would continue, especially when Townsend Bell went driving into the wall at the second turn with just 10 laps remaining.
Since the debris was so significant amid the high-stakes action, officials made the decision to bring out the red flag ahead of the final eight laps to bring fans the best possible end. Through all the late chaos and against the grain of recent history, the final six laps were green, lending to an enthralling, photo finish that saw Hunter-Reay come out on top.
That prevented the outcome from being a runaway triumph for Hunter-Reay, though he will undoubtedly take the win, and it had to be particularly sweet after being so close in placing third last year.
NASCAR on ESPN's official Twitter account logged Hunter-Reay's quote about how the Indy 500 meant just as much as his IndyCar Series championship in 2012:
Hunter-Reay has now won two races in the 2014 season and will no doubt get a massive boost in momentum from strolling to victory lane at one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world. This vaults him into first place in the point standings, and that should only aid his effort to win a second IndyCar Series championship in three years.
This victory fortifies Hunter-Reay's status as an elite driver, and adds the ultimate achievement to his already impressive resume. Getting past the close call from 2013 and exorcising those potential demons heightens the significance of the win for Hunter-Reay even more.
The close call had to be disappointing for Castroneves, as he could have been just the fourth in history to have four Indy 500 victories. However, this should help fuel the star driver moving forward as he seeks to continue closing the gap at the top between him and the top two candidates for the 2014 IndyCar Series title.
|2014 Indianapolis 500 Results Pos.||Driver||Differential|
|5||Juan Pablo Montoya||1.3233|