What are the two things every driver dreams of doing during their lifetime? The answer would be winning the Indianapolis 500, and the Series Championship. Ryan Hunter-Reay has now done both. Ryan won the 98th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing on Sunday, edging out Helio Castroneves by a mere 0.0600 seconds – the second closest finish in the 103-year history of the race. We were that close to having another four-time winner. Finishing just behind them in third (for the third time) was Marco Andretti, who was trying to win his first ‘500’ 45 years after his grandfather did. It was his father, Michael, that went to victory lane on Sunday, winning his third Indy 500 as an owner.
Hunter-Reay is the first American driver to win the race since Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006. He is the first driver since 1954 to win from 19th starting position, and he’s the first driver to win the race using number 28. The number obviously means a lot to Ryan, who lost his mother to cancer. The number honors the 28 million people worldwide living with cancer.
Carlos Munoz finished in fourth, following up an impressive run last year, where he finished runner-up in his very first Indy 500. Rounding out the top five was Juan Montoya, another Colombian who recorded his second top-five finish in just two career Indy starts.
Finishing an impressive sixth, was Kurt Busch, who immediately flew to Concord, NC for the second part of his “Double” on Sunday. He’ll run 600 miles in his Cup car after doing his first 500 miles in an IndyCar. It was an incredible effort by him, his teammates, and the entire Andretti team. Kurt will obviously win the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year award.
It was a rough day for Chip Ganassi’s team, as all four drivers had issues on the day. Ryan Briscoe damaged his front wing early, defending race winner Tony Kanaan had suspension issues, Charlie Kimball spun to bring out the first caution, and Scott Dixon lost control of his car, crashing in Turn 4. They finished 18th, 26th, 29th, and 31st on Sunday.
Things were better for Roger Penske’s team, as his three cars finished 2nd, 5th, and 8th, respectively. After getting tagged on pit lane for speeding, both Montoya and Will Power rebounded nicely. While Helio was just a few yards away from joining the elite company of Foyt, Unser, and Mears in the four-timer club, he gave it everything he had.
There were several drivers that had great finishes. They deserve to be mentioned for their outstanding drives. Sebastien Bourdais finished 7th after starting in 17th, and even more impressive, Rookie Sage Karam finished in 9th after starting in 31st. After continued problems for teammate Graham Rahal, Oriol Servia gave the RLL team an 11th place finish after starting the race in 18th. Alex Tagliani came home 13th in his first race this year after starting in 24th position. Former ‘500’ winner Jacques Villeneuve started 27th and finished in 14th. Sebastian Saavedra started 32nd and finished 15th, while Rookie James Davison brought it home in 16th after starting the race back in 28th spot.
One of the questions I asked myself when the Month of May began, was how could last year be topped, from an entertainment/drama perspective? All things considered, this race was just as incredible, and packed just as big a punch. The last six laps after the red flag were neck-and-neck, wheel-to-wheel racing for all the marbles. Drivers were laying it all out on the line, and Hunter-Reay’s daring dive bomb move at the end proved to be the difference. He will now put his face on the Borg Warner trophy, as an Indy champion.
You can watch the final laps of the 2014 Indianapolis 500 below.
It’s a quick turnaround for IndyCar. The next set of races on the 2014 Verizon IndyCar schedule come next weekend, in Detroit. The Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix on May 31 and June 1. Both races will begin at 3:30 PM ET, and can be seen live on ABC.