Ryan Hunter-Reay widened his lead in the Verizon IndyCar series standings by capturing his first Indianapolis 500 checkered flag on Sunday.
In a thrilling race, Hunter-Reay edged out three-time winner Helio Castroneves by a slim margin. Hunter-Reay's official time was two hours, 40 minutes and 48.2305 seconds. Castroneves was just .0605 seconds behind him.
IndyStar Sports captured Hunter-Reay ceremoniously kissing the bricks with his son.
It was the second win of the season for Hunter-Reay, and it gave the American a 40-point edge over Will Power in the standings. Here's a look at the top five.
Ryan Hunter-Reay #28
Will Power #12
Helio Castroneves #3
Simon Pagenaud #77
Marco Andretti #25
Carlos Munoz #34
Juan Pablo Montoya #2
Sebastien Bourdais #11
Scott Dixon #9
Justin Wilson #19
You can see the entire standings at IndyCar.com.
When the race was over, Hunter-Reay was still in a bit of disbelief about what he had accomplished. Per Nate Ryan of USA Today, the 33-year-old from Dallas, Texas said:
"It's a dream come true, man, it hasn't even sunk in yet. I'm a proud American boy, that's for sure."
Despite being regarded as one of the most popular and prestigious American races in all of motorsports, it had been eight years since a driver from the United States captured the checkered flag. The last was Sam Hornish Jr.
Hunter-Reay and Castroneves engaged in a fierce battle in the closing moments of the race. Hunter-Reay used a final slingshot pass to overtake Castroneves for good during the 197th lap.
Per Ryan, Castroneves said this after the duel with Hunter-Reay:
"It was close; a shame so close but you know it's Ryan Hunter-Reay's day. I want to give this to (team owner) Roger Penske so bad. It was a great fight. It was a great TV. I was having a great time. It's good when second sucks if you know what I mean."
According to imscdn.com, there were 34 total lead changes among 11 drivers. The last 26 laps of the race were primarily all about Castroneves and Hunter-Reay. The pair led all but one lap during the stretch run.
Third-place finisher Marco Andretti led the only other lap during that stretch.
Looking Ahead to Dual in Detroit
In 2013, Simon Pagenaud and Mike Conway won the two IndyCar events at The Raceway on Belle Isle. After Hunter-Reay's performance at Indy on Sunday, all eyes will be on him in Detroit.
The question is: Will he have enough in the tank emotionally and physically to come up big for a second straight week?
In 2013, Hunter Reay talked about the rigors the Detroit course puts drivers' bodies through. Per Autoweek, Hunter-Reay said:
It's very physical.
The biggest beating you get, right now [after one race], later on I'll still have a headache just from the constant pounding. All your joints in the morning hurt from street courses.
We could do a double [race] at Indianapolis and be fresh as a rose the next morning. Here it's a different deal.
Perhaps this is why only Castroneves has ever won the Indy 500 and in Detroit in the same year (2001). Even that accomplishment came before the event shifted from a CART championship to an IndyCar event.
No driver has accomplished the double feat since the change was made in 2007. Could Hunter-Reay become the first? Stay tuned.
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