Race day at Indianapolis. There is nothing quite like it in all of sports.
The prestigious event means everything to everyone, but if your name is Roger Penske, it may as well be home. The Captain has dominated this event, and this year was no exception. After sweeping the Month of May last year with Will Power, Team Penske had deja vu this year with Simon Pagenaud.
The 35-year old driver from France started the month off strong with a win in the IndyCar Grand Prix, and continued last weekend by giving the team their 18th Indianapolis 500 pole position. Today, he delivered the 18th win for Roger, putting a bow on a sensational month. While Pagenaud had the best car in the field, it wasn’t an easy victory by any means. A frantic and exciting 12-lap shootout between he and Alexander Rossi had everyone on the feet. The 0.2086 second margin of victory was the seventh closest finish in the history of the race.
Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg Box Score
It was career win number 13 for Simon, and obviously the greatest win of his racing career. The 2016 IndyCar Series champion entered the month with doubt surrounding his future after not living up to expectations as of late. That was all put to bed with his monumental run in May. “It’s amazing. It’s another dream come true, and the biggest dream of my life come true,” he said. “It’s hard to fathom, really. It’s really hard to process it right now, but I’m just filled with a lot of joy. I can’t take all the credit because I think it showed I had the best car out there. The car was just on rails; the yellows came out perfectly. The stars are aligned. … It’s pretty amazing.”
Rossi was understandably disappointed with the result, losing the lead in Turn 3 with just two laps remaining. The 2016 Indy 500 winner had to settle for runner-up, which is almost meaningless in a race like this. “I think the NAPA car was superior if you look at what we were able to do in traffic. I don’t think anyone else was doing that. It’s really disappointing,” he said. “I thought there was a period of time there where we were going to get the win.” The Andretti Autosport driver battled through two problematic pit stops, charging back to the front to contend for the win.
Speaking of former winners, it was Takuma Sato who finished 3rd on Sunday. The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver charged to the front from the 14th starting position. Josef Newgarden and Power rounded out the top five, which was the icing on the cake for Team Penske.
Ed Carpenter was a popular pick this year, and for good reason. The three ECR cars were all fast during the entire month, qualifying them 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. Carpenter just couldn’t get out front, and ended up in 6th place on Sunday. Santino Ferrucci had an outstanding day, finishing in 7th after starting back in 23rd position. Ferrucci was the highest finishing Rookie in the field, and continues to impress this season.
Ryan Hunter-Reay had a quiet month, and that stayed consistent on race day. He did manage to improve 14 positions, coming home with a solid 8th place result. Tony Kanaan was also quiet for most of May, but managed to finish 9th for AJ Foyt Racing. Conor Daly rounded out the top ten on Sunday, proving that he is deserving of a full-time ride. It seems every time he is in a good car, he produces positive results.
James Hinchcliffe missed the race last year, but this year he was the biggest mover by finishing 11th after starting in 32nd position. Pippa Mann also missed the race last year, but had a solid day as well, finishing 16th for the brand new Clauson Marshall Racing team. Scott Dixon had the fastest lap of the race, and the fastest lap by a leader on Sunday, but got hung out by the late caution flag that ultimately took him out of contention.
Helio Castroneves’ attempt at his fourth Indy 500 win came up short yet again. The popular Brazilian driver made contact with James Davison during their first pit stop, and was given a drive through penalty. Castroneves will be back with Penske for another shot next year. Marco Andretti fought his car all day long, and they were never able to get it adjusted to his liking. It would have been a great story 50 years after Mario’s infamous victory, but it just wasn’t in the cards today.
Graham Rahal and Sebastien Bourdais were both very fast in the race, but they got together on Lap 178 that caused the pileup, and the red flag late in the event. Rahal was frustrated with how the incident unfolded, but also never put all of the blame on Bourdais. Zach Veach said that was the hardest hit he’s ever had on an oval, but fortunately nobody was hurt.
There were four cautions for 29 laps, with an average race speed of 175.794 mph. Pagenaud led 116 laps en route to victory on Sunday, as no other driver led more than 22 laps. Speaking of the number 22, it was the first Indianapolis 500 win for a car with that number. Simon’s 116 laps led were the most since Dario Franchitti in 2010, and it was the first time the pole sitter won the race since Castroneves in 2009.
The annual Indianapolis 500 Victory Celebration will take place tomorrow night in Indianapolis. NBC Sports Gold will stream the event, beginning at 7:30 PM ET.
After the busiest month of the season, teams and drivers will now go on another intense grind, beginning this upcoming weekend in Detroit, for a pair of races. The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will once again provided two races on the Belle Isle circuit, on June 1 and June 2. NBC will provide coverage for the event, which begins at 3 PM ET on both days.
Photos courtesy of IndyCar
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: “We just fell out of position with 10 to go. (Takuma) Sato got by me, and that hurt us. We needed to be in that top three. I got into third on the restart, which was good, but falling behind Sato, that hurt us. Really, the top two is where you had to be. You had to be in the top two on the restart, maintain that position. That was the catbird seat for trying to win the race. (Alexander) Rossi and Simon (Pagenaud) really did a great job of defending there. They were methodical. That’s the style of this race. The top two spots, that’s where you’ve got to be. We were just a touch short today. It stinks, but we’ll learn from it and we’ll come back better next year. It was a game of patience today. We were saving fuel, trying to work on our car. We were lacking something at the beginning. I think we got the car a lot better toward the end. It was just a little off. It’s been consistent all weekend. It’s been great having the Shell V-Power car this year. Chevy did a great job. We weren’t lacking everything; it was just a couple of ingredients that were missing. We got better. We just weren’t good enough. We were getting better throughout the race, just not enough to challenge at the end.” (About teammate Simon Pagenaud’s victory): “One of us winning is what The Captain (Roger Penske) wants. They do such a great job. It’s great to reward the whole group with a victory. Congrats to Simon. It’s still not a bad day, but it hurts a bit when you fall short.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES: “I’m not sure what the 33 (James Davison, on pit lane incident) was doing in the fast lane. He was really slow. I didn’t know if I could go around him; I didn’t know if I would be penalized or not. He was looking for his pit. I saw his pit. Finally, I decided to stay away because he’s not coming in. I saw he was going to miss it and all of a sudden he just stopped. It damaged not only the front wing but the steering rack as well. It was frustrating because we had a phenomenal setup. The No. 3 Pennzoil Chevrolet was really strong. However, the good news is the team captured the win and Simon deserved it.”
MATHEUS LEIST: “I feel like from everything we went through in the race, it wasn’t a bad result. We finished P15. Of course, it’s not where the team wants to be, it’s not where we want to be, but considering that we started 24th, we had some bad pit stops and some other things, I think we did a great job. I felt good in the car; that’s a good thing, too. I could pass some people and run together with some people. I think I got a lot of experience and a lot of good fun. Hopefully, next year, I’ll be a couple positions more up in the chart.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: “Honestly, it was a hell of a day for the Arrow Peterson Schmidt guys. I really wanted that top-10. We were sitting there near the end, but TK (Tony Kanaan), famous for his restarts, just snookered us there. We got boxed in and I couldn’t make a move. From where we started, we kept our nose clean all day, smart decisions on the racetrack, pass when we could, patient when we needed to be, and great strategy in the pits. We made the most of what we had today. It was a great comeback for the guys. On the first stint, the thing was really dialed in. Then the track temps got hotter, we lost a little bit of front-end. The cloud cover came and went; we were up and down with the changes on the stops. The car was in a pretty good window the whole time. We were just fine-tuning. Thanks to all the engineers. It was a solid run for us. (close to accidents) I got away twice. I actually white-walled in the first stint coming off Turn 4, hit pretty hard and was lucky enough not to bend anything. When the wreck happened at the north end, I was slowing down but Hunter-Reay also slowed at the same time and he was low so I couldn’t go there. After Charlie (Kimball) spun, he rolled back just enough for us to sneak through the middle – a little too close for comfort but we got through it. Not quite a top-10, but we’re pretty damn proud of that.”
MARCUS ERICSSON: “The Arrow car was really good all day, and the guys had really good pit stops. Up until I did that mistake at pit entry, we were looking really good. We were running in the top eight most of the time, plus or minus a few positions, but really in the race like we were hoping and planning on. I just pushed a bit too hard and locked up the rears. Obviously after that, our race was pretty much over, but we still kept fighting. The car was still really good after that, and I was able to race and finish the race, so that was a great feeling to finish and get the checkered flag. Obviously, I’m disappointed for the guys because they put in so much work all month, and I was hoping to get us a better result.”
SCOTT DIXON: “It was kind of interesting. I thought the first part the PNC Bank Honda was really good. We kept extending our pit windows. I think we were probably going to eliminate a stop, which was going to put us in a great position. And then that yellow flag just hosed us. It dropped us back, both myself and the No. 10 car (Rosenqvist). We were hung out in the back of the field, and we just got caught up in that accident. I had the car stopped in time, but then I just got hit up the rear. I’m not sure who that was, but it hit us pretty hard then broke the right side floor. It took the gear out, so it was just stuck in sixth gear the whole time. So it was pretty interesting just to finish.”
FELIX ROSENQVIST: “The first thing I could see was the 60 car (Jack Harvey) going really slow on the inside. He had just come out of the pits. I managed to get around, and I just tried to stop. It was kind of just a pack-up of a lot of cars spinning and smoke and grass on the track. I tried to go on the outside, and it didn’t work out. I kind of wish I would have seen earlier what was about to happen, but it was an unfortunate situation to be in. It was a shame. We had a really, really good car today. The NTT Honda guys did a brilliant job today, coming from the back up to the top 10. I’m really sad for the guys. I thought we deserved a top 10 today.”
TONY KANAAN: “It’s a typical day that you have to prove that you can’t give up. We never gave up. We had a little bit of a mishap; we ran out of fuel under the yellow. We were too close to pit, and it went yellow and they closed the pits. That stuff happens, right? You can’t predict all the yellows. We got lucky, finally: We got our lap back, and I got to do my magic at the end, which I enjoyed the most. You know, we have so many ABC Supply employees and Bryant employees here. Actually between them, we had more than 2,000 employees here today. I feel like even on my worst day, I can’t give up. So even when I was back there in 24th , a lap down, I still had to race. I still had to prove to them that we’re here and we’re trying. It paid off with a top-10. Is a top-10 what we want? Not really, but after the day we had, I’ll take it.”
GRAHAM RAHAL: “I just got a killer run, and I was lifting to just manage my gap. You pull out, and you get to this point, and you can see him squeezing me inside, turns into me, and nothing you can do. As all of us know, with 20 to go, 22 to go, it’s the time. You have to give every opportunity to go for it. I think Sebastien (Bourdais) knows that, which is probably why he hasn’t said much to me. But, yeah, it was disappointing. The United Rentals car was just heating up. It seemed like Alex (Rossi) and I were the only two who were really able to pass there at the end. I was feeling good about things. Hadn’t changed much, just trying to march to the front. I’m just very disappointed. It’s another year you get to sit and think about this. I respect Sebastien a lot. I don’t respect that move. I do respect him as a driver tremendously, and I’m sure he feels the same right now. At those speeds, that’s how you kill somebody. And I’m just not a fan of squeezing people and putting people in those positions. It’s not necessary.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: “I didn’t think he (Graham Rahal) had as much of the car as he did inside. It’s always a dynamic thing. He got a run, and then he kind of stalled there for a little while. And then I was there at turn-in. We made contact before we even got there. That’s what set off the whole thing because it kind of got the car wiggly a little bit before turn in. It’s always easy to say I should have given up going into the corner, but at that point when you have to make the call whether you’re going to jump on the brakes and let the guy fly in because I didn’t really feel like the side by side was an option. I didn’t really want to pay the price to see what was going to happen there. It started to be a bit of marbles, and I didn’t really feel like that was an option. I thought he was going to back off, and we were going to be OK. It’s that stage of the race where nobody wants to give up. It’s just bad timing.”
SANTINO FERRUCCI: “These guys did a hell of a job, and I had a hell of a race car. I think if it wasn’t for that unlucky yellow toward the end, with 65 or 70 laps to go right after we pitted, we could be drinking the milk. But I can’t complain. I mean, it is my best finish in the series, and it is in the Indy 500. This place is an intimidating enough as it is, and these guys did some of the best work I have ever seen.”
ED CARPENTER: “We were trying to just play the game. At the end, we just didn’t have anything. I got loose for the first time in the day, which was a little weird. I just didn’t really seem to be running that quick. I thought sitting P3 that last restart was going to be a good opportunity, but on the start I just couldn’t get it rolling. It just didn’t have anything. I am pretty disappointed for myself and for the team.” (On how the race evolved as the track got a mixture of cloud cover and sun): “I thought it gripped-up, for the most part, as it went on, but the balance kind of changed around. I don’t know; I really don’t know what to make of it because we were so bad at the end compared to what we had been. I’m happy Chevrolet won with Simon (Pagenaud) and Mr. Penske. I didn’t really want to see a Honda win this race. So I’m happy to see them win, but I didn’t come here for sixth. We just didn’t have the speed that we’d had at the end of the day, for some reason. I don’t know. I’m happy for the month the team had, don’t get me wrong, but sixth is a failure to me.”
SPENCER PIGOT: “It was a difficult day. I thought it was going all right at the beginning. Then just as it heated up or whatever, we seemed to struggle more and more on old tires. At the end of the stint, we struggled a lot. As it got hotter or we got later in the stint, it just kind of fell off. I couldn’t hang with the guys throughout the stint, and that just kind of got worse and worse throughout the race. It was just a tough day, and we’ll look at what we can do better.”
SIMON PAGENAUD: “It’s hard to believe right now, to be honest with you. It’s been such an intense race. I believe we led most of the race. The car was just on rails. The yellows came out perfectly. The stars are aligned. Man, wow, I’m seeing myself on TV with this. It’s pretty amazing. It’s a dream come true, a lifetime of trying to achieve this. So I’m just speechless. It’s just incredible. I never expected to be in this position, but I certainly was trying to make it as hard as I could. I want to thank the fans. The fans are amazing. It was awesome to share that with you guys on the Yard of Bricks. You’re the best, Indianapolis.” (Did questions about your job security motivate you?): “It didn’t. I’m just focused on the job, man. When you have a car like this, a team like this, you just work your way. It’s all about achieving and executing at the end, and we did execute perfectly today. No mistakes. Here we are, Victory Lane, man. We did it! I thought we had the best car. We consumed a lot of fuel by being up front all day. Kyle Moyer told me to let Josef (Newgarden) go by in one of the last stints to see if I can save fuel. That was the key of the race for us. We saved so much fuel trailing Josef there, and I could follow him easily, as well. It was the best car I’ve ever driven on an oval. No weaknesses. I was so spirited today. It was my time.” (About the red flag): “The red flag made no difference for us. The yellows equaled it out for everyone. It would’ve made it easier on fuel. Being aggressive for us made the difference today, and we attacked the whole race, and we got it. The Menards Chevy was so fast all day, and we did it. The team made no mistakes. Great stops all day. Everything worked out perfect. I’m so proud of my flag and country. Happiness. After the Notre Dame tragedy, the French people needed something like this. And I’m so glad I can do that for them. I’m proud to be French and proud for the support from everyone here in America.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL: “At the end of the day, the result wasn’t at all what we wanted, but I am so proud of this 23 crew and everyone at Carlin for staying focused and motivated to get us to the checkered flag today. We were on for a top-six or top-eight finish, but we got collected in someone else’s crash. I feel really bad for the guys, but they did a great job on pit stops all day long and they got the car back out after the accident so quickly. The No. 23 Fiasp Carlin Chevrolet was pretty quick in clean air. It maybe needed a little more downforce for traffic, but we saw the checkered flag and we had a good run going there for a while. I can’t stress how proud I am of this Carlin team and what they’ve done here all month long.”
SAGE KARAM: “Our qualifying put us in the back row at the start, definitely not where you want to be. We struggled when we qualified. We were already last in the race when the first caution came out, so it didn’t hurt to come in and take on a little more fuel. We later wound up a lap down, and that’s not where you want to be, either. At that point, that’s all you can do is fight back. We made some gains. All in all, it wasn’t quite the race I expected. The team (Dreyer & Reinbold) gave it their all this month. I enjoy racing for Dennis Reinbold (team owner). Our goal is to win this race, so we’ll come back again and give it another good try.”
CONOR DALY: (This is your best performance in the Indy 500. Do you think you made the most of it?): No, but I don’t think it was our fault. We didn’t put a foot wrong; we had good pit stops. The car was good. I don’t know why INDYCAR put us behind (Takuma) Sato. Every driver is going to be upset about something like that, but track position is everything here. That can ruin your race, and it essentially did. I never saw Sato the whole race. So I don’t know where that came from, but our car was great. It was nice to drive. It was just really cool to be in the fight, to be with Alex (Rossi) and those guys. It was awesome. I think we can be proud of what we did today.” (Did you validate yourself in your first start of the season?): “I would like to think so because this is all I get to do. I haven’t been in a car for a year, and we are out there fighting with guys who are really good. Multiple Indy 500 winners, champions, and we were there. I don’t know what else I can do. Winning helps a lot, and if we would have finished in the top five, that would have been great. But I, for sure, think we can be proud of what we did. We will see what happens after this.”
ZACH VEACH: “I think that was the biggest hit I have ever had on an oval. My knee came up and hit the steering wheel where I backed in. I got my right knee pretty bad – I think it is OK. Luckily, they did X-rays, but it is just really bruised. It is unfortunate. The Gainbridge car was so good. It was one of the best cars I have ever had. We went from 28th to 12th or 13th at that time. We were well on our way with the final pit stop to be an easy top 10 for us. I hated it for the team; they did an incredible job. I hate it for the people supporting me. I hate it for my friend, (Felix) Rosenqvist, too. We both started 28th and 29 th, then were running 11th and 12th when our races ended at the same time. It’s tough. Hopefully, we can come back and have a little more luck on our side next year.”
ALEXANDER ROSSI: (What was the difference at the end?): “Horsepower. That’s unfortunately the way it is. They did a great job. Obviously, he was on pole and led the most laps, but I think we had the superior car. We just didn’t have enough there at the end. Huge hat’s off to the entire No. 27 NAPA Andretti Autosport team. They’ve been fantastic all month, and I’m happy to get them a result. But unfortunately, nothing else matters here but winning. This one will be hard to get over, but at the end of the day, it was a great showing for the team and good for the points overall. But today will suck for a while.” (Why were you driving angry?): “There was a lot of lapped cars that had no respect for what we were doing. It was really unfortunate. Ultimately, I don’t think it really made a difference with the end result, but with 50 laps to go and cars are two and five laps down and blocking, it’s just disrespectful. We’ll deal with that another day. We just need to take the positives from this, and the positives are that the 27 boys did an amazing job to recover from a difficult pit stop, and I’m proud of them for that.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: “A had a slow car in a straight line. There’s nothing I could do about that. The DHL crew did everything we could with what we had. In the end, we were dealing with a narrow drag issue that we couldn’t overcome.” (Do you think you got everything you could out of the car?): “Absolutely. It didn’t even deserve to finish eight today.”
TAKUMA SATO: “We had some issue on the second pace lap, and we got down. It was lucky that we got back. And the last 15 laps were great excitement. Huge congratulations to Simon (Pagenaud). A big win. We tried to get Alex (Rossi), but we were not quite there yet.” (Did you think you could run this well?): “It’s always challenging. It’s always difficult. We just kept our heads down, did our job and made the most of it.”
KYLE KAISER: “We went high and caught the marbles in Turn 3. We were just a passenger with a lot of understeer. Once it gripped back up, the car just spun around on us. I was hoping we would be able to recover it, but unfortunately we couldn’t. Obviously, an extremely disappointing result for us after a such a wild month. I really feel for the guys and all the work they put in for us all month. Not the result we were hoping for, by any means. But we can’t hold our heads down. We were competing out there, and I’m so proud of the guys all month. Everyone can be so proud. Thank you for all the sponsors and everyone who came onboard this month. 250ok, NFP, GMR, Hagerty, River Plate Indiana, and so many more joined our effort, and we are so proud to have represented them today. This team has made great strides, and only positive things ahead for us moving forward.”
JAMES DAVISON: “Man, that was a pretty epic Indy 500 for the 33 team. Obviously, we got a fantastic start – and first restart – and moved up into the top 10 and running comfortably. I pitted and the speed limit limiter didn’t work. As a result, I had to do it NASCAR-style, just looking at the RPMs on the dash. Helio (Castroneves), unfortunately, was a victim of circumstances. He pulled out to pass me since I wasn’t going exactly 60 miles per hour doing it manually. Right when I needed to pull into my box, it spun me, and it was unfortunate for both of us. We recovered from being two laps down. I got a fantastic restart and finished 12th . That was the best that we could do the way the bed was made. I’m just really happy for this crew. It was an epic day. We’ll be back.”
PIPPA MANN: “Our goal coming into this month was to be smart, do the right things and have an error-free month in the No. 39 Clauson-Marshall Racing Driven2SaveLives Chevrolet. Today, I feel like we went out there and we executed that plan. This was an entirely new group of people we put together, and I’m really proud of how the Driven2SaveLives car ran out there on the racetrack. I also want to thank Chevy again for all of their support this month and I feel that finishing 16th in our first Indianapolis 500 together is a really strong way to start this partnership.”
JORDAN KING: “Obviously, I’m thinking about Chachi (Chris Minot). I’m really disappointed in myself for the team, really for everybody. I think we had a pretty strong car. We were looking quite strong and making progress, and looking at how the race finished, I think we could’ve been in the top 10, so that’s quite hard to swallow. First bit of call is to check that everything’s OK at the hospital. It’s not good, it’s not what you want to do (injure a crewman). It’s not. I don’t even know what to say. I’m really disappointed in myself and for everyone involved. We could have had a good race but didn’t, so that’s that.”
JR HILDEBRAND: “It was a longer day for us when I hit the pit lane too quick and received a drive-through penalty. I thought I was a gear down when I hit the pit lane. I just didn’t get the gear down quickly enough, and I was speeding into the pits. So I then locked up the rears (tires), and I slid into the pit lane. I had a good start and moved up several spots pretty quickly. We thought we needed some fast stops to make up some positions throughout the race. We had some good pit sequences with the in and out laps, too. Then the drive-through penalty put us a lap down that we couldn’t get back. I had to protect the tires early in the stint, and I couldn’t charge how I probably needed to. At the end of the race, we got the car into a window where I could maintain our position during the run. We made a number of adjustments through the race, and the car did improve at the end as the track changed. I’m bummed for the guys because they did an awesome job in the pits. I think we were running with guys who were hovering in the top 10 at the checkered flag. We could have been knocking on the door for the top 10 had we kept everything together. So I’m a little disappointed in myself with the penalty. We got the car back into the garage after 200 laps again.”
JACK HARVEY: “We started 25th and finished 21st, but it was a very trying day. This was the most challenging Indianapolis 500 that I have been a part of. We started off the month with a podium at the INDYCAR Grand Prix, and we were hoping to continue that momentum into the Indianapolis 500. Halfway through the race, I thought the car was going to end up in the wall because of how unbalanced it felt. We didn’t have the pace that we had all month in practice, and during the race is when you need it the most. It was an overall average result and an average day.”
ED JONES: “First of all, thank you to Ed Carpenter Racing and Scuderia Corsa. Fortunately, we had the good weather, so that was nice since up to today we weren’t sure about that. We struggled a bit with some issues at the start and restarts. That really hurts you a lot when those are the biggest times to overtake, and you’re unable to do anything. At that point, it sets you back and makes it harder to recover. We were still running inside the top 10, but we had a problem at the second pit stop, and that put us back. Once you get further back in the pack, it gets harder and harder to move forward. It’s a bit of a disappointing day from where we started. Hopefully, we will be back next year and be a little stronger.”
ORIOL SERVIA: “It was the most uneventful 500 I have ever had. Anti-climactic. We came in for the first stop, and we had a problem with the left front – the wheel nut fell under the car – so it took the guys a few extra seconds, obviously. That put us back behind the leaders, which usually is not a big deal in a 500-mile race, so at that point I wasn’t too upset. It was early in the race, and we’d get our lap back. Somehow, the way the race played out with the yellows – it was a long, long stretch without yellows, only until the end – it meant that we could never get our lap back. I was in no man’s land, sitting. At one point I had the speed of the leaders, I was behind (Simon) Pagenaud, (Ed) Carpenter, the whole steam, my car was great. At that point I still hoped that we were going to get our lap back, and I knew I had a car to fight with the winners. We just never got the lap back. Honestly, it feels like I had a decaf coffee, not a regular coffee, it was never a real race. So frustrating. Anyway, I’m proud of the work we did the whole month, the team did great, the car was great … it was just not our day. I hope we have another chance to redeem ourselves.”
BEN HANLEY: “It has been amazing for me. We learned quite a lot. We pushed really hard make the race, and unfortunately we didn’t have a good race car in traffic. On our own, we were OK. My first Indy 500 was an unbelievable experience. We knew we were up against it as rookies but focused on making the show the first week and did it, which was a huge achievement for everybody at DragonSpeed. The rain last Sunday cost us three hours’ track time for developing our race setup, but we still managed to make progress in practice this week and more today with the adjustments available to us. Our race pace was improving, and we had a promising strategy lined up before a driveshaft problem ended our run. I can’t wait to come back for next year’s ‘500.’”
COLTON HERTA: “I couldn’t get into sixth the whole time, so I stuck it in fifth gear. Just kind of sitting there. I knew it was going to be a long day after seeing that. I was hoping maybe we could just run around in fifth gear the whole time. But we lost the gear pressure in it, and it didn’t want to change gears. Once I went down to fourth and back up to fifth a few times, it completely depleted it and there’s nothing left. So the engine is dying. Couldn’t get it to neutral. That’s why we had to put it on the flat tow and go back. The gear issue was caused from a fuel leak that burned the wires for the gearbox. The gearbox is controlled electronically, and I wasn’t getting the signal to upshift or downshift. It sent something into emergency mode to where the engine just completely shut off, and that was it.” (About being out of first ‘500’ so early): “It’s sad. The car was actually really good. I was just cruising there in fifth. I didn’t have any need to push or anything. We were happy just staying there until the pit stop. It’s just really sad. The guys have been working really hard to get the cars in service at the Speedway. They worked through Mother’s Day and every weekend. It just sucks. I know everybody is still super fired up for this year. We’ve been quick everywhere and haven’t qualified outside the top 10 yet. I know we’ll be back next week.”
MARCO ANDRETTI: “I don’t know; we need to look at it, I need to look at it. But I picked a terrible day to have the worst race of my career. I don’t know. It’s pretty embarrassing. Today was, for sure, the wrong day to have a bad day. I wish I could say more, but we’re just not quite sure yet what happened with the 98 car. We came into the day behind from the start and didn’t have what we needed. We’re now looking ahead to Detroit – we were on Pole (Race 1) last year and looking to come back strong.”