The 2014 Indianapolis 500 featured one of the wildest finishes in the 98-year history of the race, and there were a number of big names looking to push toward the front by the end.
Ryan Hunter-Reay was able to win his first career Indy 500, but it wasn't easy, as he and Helio Castroneves continued to go back and forth down the stretch. Hunter-Reay ended up winning by just 0.06 seconds, and according to Ray Wert from Tiny Toy Car, that was the second-closest finish in the history of the race:
With a margin of victory of just .0060, this was the second closest finish in #Indy500 history!— Ray Wert (@raywert) May 25, 2014
It was a very big day for Hunter-Reay, but let's take a look at the complete results from the race, followed by a breakdown of the top three finishers.
|5||Juan Pablo Montoya||200|
It was a huge day not only for Hunter-Reay, but for IndyCar fans in the United States. According to ESPN Stats and Info, the driver was the first American-born winner since Sam Hornish won it back in 2006:
Ryan Hunter-Reay: 1st American-born driver to win Indy 500 since 2006 (Sam Hornish Jr.)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 25, 2014
Hunter-Reay definitely earned his win. Officials were forced to wave the red flag with nine laps to go, and once they restarted the race, it was a one-on-one battle between Hunter-Reay and Castroneves. The two drivers pulled out all of the moves they could to get in front, but Hunter-Reay was able to come out just barely in front.
"My dream has come true," he told Nate Ryan of USA Today. "I've watched this race since I was in diapers sitting on the floor in front of the TV. My son did it today. I'm thrilled. This is an American tradition."
While the win itself will be memorable for Hunter-Reay, it's also a big win in regard to the IndyCar standings. The 33-year-old is currently at the top of the standings with 274 points thanks to two wins and four top-five finishes. He's led 165 laps in five starts this season and is 40 points ahead of Will Power, who is currently in second in the standings.
After a hot start to the season, Hunter-Reay will be looking to finish the year strong and come away with his second career IndyCar Series title.
Castroneves was so close to winning his fourth career Indy 500 to tie A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears for the most victories ever, but he came up short.
Still, considering how exciting the finish was, he can't be upset with how well he raced. Castroneves admitted it stung a little, though, according to Chris Jenkins of USA Today:
Great race. It's interesting when second place kind of sucks, you know? But certainly I'm taking the positives out of this. I think you guys had fun. I had a great time. He did everything he could. I did everything I could, obviously. ... It's great to see an American driver win.
The last time Castroneves won the Indy 500 was in 2009, and he's been fighting for the past five years to get win No. 4. Before this year's race, the closest he had come was sixth last year. He'll have to wait yet another year to try and tie the elusive record.
Castroneves will now have to move on and continue to make a run for the IndyCar series title. Despite not winning a race yet, he's currently in third place with 55 laps led. Fortunately, there's plenty of time for him to move up the board and challenge Hunter-Reay for the top spot in the standings.
Despite being so close once again, the Andretti curse continues, as Marco Andretti finished third for the third time in his career.
The Andretti family has only won the Indy 500 once, and that came from Marco's grandfather, Mario Andretti, way back in 1969. Since then, no one has been able to kiss the bricks, although Marco was able to get as close as second back in 2006.
"I'm secretly watching [Marco], saying, 'C'mon, get up there! If you can pass him, do it!'" Marco's father, Michael Andretti, told John Oreovicz from ESPN.com. "But I saw his car didn't have the speed. I think they were both really good, but I think [Hunter-Reay] was a little more trimmed, and had a little more speed. I knew at that point if we were going to win it, it would most likely be with Ryan."
Marco only has two career IndyCar wins, and he'll need to add to that win total if he hopes to be near the top of the IndyCar standings by the end of the season.