Welcome to More Front Wing’s live blog from the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500! MFW Co-editors Steph Wallcraft and Paul Dalbey are at the track tapping out updates all weekend long. Updates are posted with the most recent at the top, so if this is your first visit to the live blog please go to the last page and work your way forward. For Verizon IndyCar Series time sheets and race info, visit the Indianapolis 500 Event Summary.
10:43 PM ET (Steph) – Paul mentioned in his final post that I’d be taking over to let you know my thoughts. Well, we actually compiled our thoughts together into our First Impressions column and did a whole bunch of other post-race work as well. Here’s the list of links:
And with that, it’s time to call an end to race day for another year. As I left the gate with a friendly wave from a yellow shirt this evening, I felt a pang that was new to me. I’ve passed under the tunnels a few times now, though still not nearly as many as some, but I’ve always been preoccupied with other things — family, friends, etc. This was the first time I left on my own and had a quiet moment to reflect on what I’d witnessed, on how I’d been a part of the history that went into the books today, and how I’m so grateful to get to be a part of it.
I know I speak for myself, Paul, John, and Bash when I say thank you for supporting us and follow the work we do. If it weren’t for all of you out there reading and listening and joining in our enjoyment of IndyCar racing, we’d have no reason to be here.
Thanks again to all involved for another great year at IMS. See you next week in Detroit!
4:34 PM ET (Paul) – So the 98th Running of the Indianapolis 500 has been run, and Ryan Hunter-Reay has become the 69th driver to win the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. In what seemed like two separate races, Hunter-Reay prevailed with an incredible pass of Helio Castroneves on the 197th lap and held on to victory by 0.0600 seconds, the second closest margin in the history of the race.
While the first 150 laps were run caution free at a blistering pace, the last 125 miles were littered with cautions for incidents involving Charlie Kimball, Scott Dixon, Ed Carpenter, James Hinchcliffe, and Townsend Bell. The Carpenter/Hinchcliffe crash will be particularly debated as Hinch attempted to pass both Carpenter and Bell with a three-wide pass into the first turn. It was a high-risk pass that ultimately eliminated two drivers with great chances of winning the race.
Also to be surely debated was the decision by Race Control to red flag the race with seven laps to go following Bell’s crash in Turn 2. It seems that many fans agree with the decision while there are several others who were strongly vocal against the call. My personal take, at least in the moment, is that it was the correct call and set up a fantastic finish.
Having watched the race from the grandstands, I was able to get a good sense of how the crowd felt during the race. The crowd favorite, by fan, was Marco Andretti. Each time his car took the lead, a huge roar came from the filled grandstands which only got louder as the race went on. Unfortunately, Marco’s car just didn’t have the top-end speed to catch Hunter-Reay and Helio in the run to the checkers.
There is much more to be debated, but I am running short on time before I have to hit the road to home, so I’ll call out a couple highlights. The drive of the race, in my opinion, belonged to the very young rookie Sage Karam. Starting in 30th position, Sage drove a fantastic race to bring his one-off entry home in ninth place. For his incredible run through the field, Karam earned my vote for Rookie of the Year.
The rookie that he will likely be pitted against for that award was Kurt Busch. Busch did drive a good race and stayed patient when it seemed his car was slightly struggling during the middle portion of the race. Working well with the crew and making all the necessary adjustments, Busch brought his car home a very respectable sixth. Generally that would be good enough for Rookie of the Year, but I feel Sage did more with less and therefore earned my vote.
Another great run was turned in by Townsend Bell. Bell seems to always run well at Indianapolis, and this year was no exception. In fact, Bell’s performance far exceeded that of his teammates Sebastien Bourdais, Sabastian Saavedra, and James Davison. It’s a shame he couldn’t bring the car home in the end, but he proved he knows this place very well.
Ryan Briscoe deserves a nice shout-out as well. After getting off sequence very early for a flat tire and losing a lap, Briscoe battled all the way back, had one of the fastest cars on track, and ultimately brought his car home 18th. That result doesn’t truly represent his race though.
With that, I’ll turn the Live Blog back over to Steph so she can share her thoughts and perspectives from today’s race.
10:19 AM ET (Steph) – Just got back from the Indy Fans Tweet-up. As usual, it was the best one of the year so far. There had to be a hundred people, which is excellent for not having a lot of notice or a pre-arranged place to meet. Amy of IndyCar Mom dropped Doug Patterson of OpenPaddock.net by hitting him in the head with a pen, and Frank Linker spat in my face. Good times! (Both of those things were accidental, of course. Hilarity ensued, I promise.) I can’t even begin to name all the people who were there, but it was great to meet new IndyCar fans and catch up with old friends. It’s one of my favorite race day traditions.
The Pagoda Plaza is packed for the celebrity red carpet, and the Gordon Pipers are marching through the grounds while the Purdue University Band is playing On the Banks of the Wabash on the Yard of Bricks. The buzz is building at a rapid pace, and the weather couldn’t possibly be more perfect. There’s not a single thing here not to love.
The data signal is getting very spotty out on the ground for those of us not with Verizon, but do keep an eye on us on Twitter and Instagram @MoreFrontWing as we do our best to keep you feeling a part of all the pre-race ceremonies and traditions here at Indianapolis Motor Speedway!
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