The Indianapolis 500 is as much a Memorial Day weekend and American tradition as grilling out with family and friends, and there was a distinctive Red, White and Blue flair to the 98th edition of the historic race.
For the first time since 2006, an American was the one drinking milk in Victory Lane after winning the race. Ryan Hunter-Reay held off Helio Castroneves by the narrowest of margins to capture the victory. In fact, Ray Wert of Tiny Toy Car highlighted just how close the finish was:
With a margin of victory of just .0060, this was the second closest finish in #Indy500 history!— Ray Wert (@raywert) May 25, 2014
The two racers swerved back and forth and exchanged leads in the final six laps, which only fired up the crowd of 250,000 even more. The fact that both were racing in bright yellow cars just seemed to add to the excitement.
Had Castroneves pulled off the victory, he would have tied the all-time record with four wins in the Indy 500.
The nail-biting finish between the two racers was clearly the headline, but the rest of the top 10 finishers certainly deserve recognition as well. Here is a look at all of the best finishers:
|5||Juan Pablo Montoya||Chevrolet|
Hunter-Reay recognized the magnitude of his victory, if his comments were any indication, via Steve Keating of Reuters (h/t Yahoo! Sports): “I’ve been watching this race since I was in diapers sitting on the floor ... I’m thrilled. This is American history this race, an American tradition.”
Incredibly, the race went an entire 149 laps without a single yellow. It was also the first time in five years that the Indy 500 finished under green, as the previous four all ended in caution. Hunter-Reay likely remembers just missing out on last year’s version when he was passed near the end and finished in third place.
Hunter-Reay wasn’t the only member of Andretti Autosport to make headlines Sunday, though.
Marco Andretti just missed out on becoming the first member of his family to win the event since his grandfather, Mario Andretti, did so in 1969. Marco finished in third place Sunday, just ahead of Carlos Munoz and Juan Pablo Montoya. And it just so happened to be Pablo Montoya’s first Indy 500 since he won the event 14 years ago, which is certainly impressive in its own right.
Who had the most impressive day from this group?
Another notable performer was Kurt Busch, who made his Indy debut Sunday. He finished in a respectable sixth place, but it was the fact that he immediately dashed off to Charlotte after the race that turned the most heads. He also competed in the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 Sunday evening in an effort to race an incredible 1,100 miles in a single day.
There are a number of takeaways that fans can garner from these top performers in terms of what the future holds. For one, Hunter-Reay has to be considered among the favorites now in any IndyCar race he enters given that he won the Indy 500 and IndyCar championship within two years of each other.
Additionally, Castroneves’ performance suggested that he still has plenty left in the proverbial tank at the age of 39. He was hundredths of a second away from tying the all-time record of four Indy 500 titles Sunday and clearly still has time left to chase that elusive feat.
What’s more, Busch looked incredibly comfortable on the track and likely has a bright future ahead of him if he decides to go for an IndyCar crown in the future, and Marco Andretti will likely break his family’s Indy 500 slump sooner rather than later if he continues to race like he did Sunday.
While the future looks bright for many, Sunday belonged to the American Hunter-Reay.
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