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lat ellman indy 0529 4901

lat ellman indy 0529 4901The 100th Indianapolis 500 featured some of the wildest, hairiest racing through the corners this old oval has ever seen – not to mention 54 lead changes. A monstrous crowd was treated to everything but the frenetic finish we've grown accustomed to the past few Mays.

Winner Alexander Rossi running 179mph on the last lap, pretty much all alone on the main straightaway, is not how anyone envisioned this ballyhooed, banzai-fest ending.

The fans still roared with delight as the American rookie took a most improbable checkered flag but it was a shocking, almost numbing, conclusion to what had been three hours of May-hem at 220mph.

thumbnail FPW16D77IMS 22272Instead of Tony Kanaan, Josef Newgarden, Carlos Munoz and James Hinchcliffe dicing and drafting for the victory, the most-hyped and anticipated Indy 500 in 20 years was decided by those two evil words: fuel mileage.

"If I was Alex, I'd be the happiest man in the world right now and wouldn't care how we won the damn race," said Newgarden, who wound up a frustrated third. "But it just sucks we didn't have a shootout where we could have raced each other."

That's what most of us wanted to see and seemed destined to get after an afternoon of breathtaking passes throughout the field. Because everyone has become so conditioned to 0.$%# of a second finishes, this obviously was pretty anti-climatic.

But it was better than finishing under caution and had a lot more positives than negatives, such as:

  • A well-spoken, 24-year-old Californian (the first California-born winner since Jim Rathmann in 1960) won a place in history, not to mention put his face on the Borg-Warner trophy.
  • Honda, shut out in the first five races of 2016, did a good job all month and finally got on the scoreboard in a much-needed shot of reassurance for its teams.
  • NAPA, the primary sponsor of Rossi's car, got a win and big time exposure on ABC for a rumored $300,000 and now might just want to stay the rest of the season.
  • Michael Andretti, who fields four cars full-time on the Verizon IndyCar series in addition to the rest of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system, got a nice, well-deserved payday and a 1-2 finish.

Five years after Dan Wheldon pulled out an improbable victory for Herta's tiny, Indy-only effort driving #98, the former CART/IRL winner called perfect strategy after Rossi dropped to 28th because of two bad pit stops.

"There is nothing negative about this day and even the haters will have trouble finding anything," said Herta, who was forced to partner with his pal Andretti. "But this was such a team effort. Ryan (Hunter-Reay, who led a race-high 52 laps) and Townsend (Bell) were strong early and had their troubles but played a big role in Alex winning. We were on a fuel plan and they both helped it by dragging us around in the draft."

Herta was, understandably, a tad excited and why not? A potential sponsor didn't pan out last winter and he flew to Indianapolis to pitch Andretti on a deal when Rossi became a strong possibility after his Formula 1 ride went away.

"I thanked Michael on the parade lap for letting me be here because I'd have been watching on television without him."

rossi waveMaking only his second start ever on an oval, Rossi spent the month in fast company near the top of the speed chart, never put a wheel wrong and qualified 11th. He never lost his composure, or pace, following the disastrous pit stops and turned the fastest lap of the race at 225.288mph.

"Then all we asked him to do was save fuel but don't lose track position for 36 laps," chortled Herta. "He's not rookie of the year, he's rookie of the century!"

Rossi, who was coasting on the straightaways that final lap, was finally told he could gas it going into Turn 3 and then found himself standing in Victory Lane a few minutes later.

"I didn't expect to be standing here," he said with a smile. "But I'm really starting to like it."

Martin Truex Jr. put his early season bad luck well behind him with a dominant win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Possible victories slipped through his fingers at Daytona, Texas and Dover earlier in the year, but nothing and nobody could get close to Truex on Sunday night. He began the race on pole in his Furniture Row Racing Toyota, and would have gone unchallenged for the majority of the evening if not for a late charge from Kevin Harvick.

Truex broke the Cup record for most laps led during a race at Charlotte, leading all but eight of the 400, during which Jimmie Johnson inherited the lead temporarily during pit stops. Even more impressively, his 588 miles led is the most ever in one race in the history of NASCAR.

With his win, Truex joins Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth in the provisional Chase field.

"It's just kind of sinking in now that we won the 600," Truex said in Victory Lane. "Really proud of my team – everybody that made this possible, that believed in me, gave me this opportunity. (Crew chief) Cole Pearn, Jazzy (team engineer Jeff Curtis), my guys are something special. I want to thank all of them."

The fight for best of the rest was largely contested by Johnson, Harvick and Joey Logano. The latter narrowly got past Johnson during the pit stop window of lap 166-168, but at the next round of stops, Logano received a drive-through penalty for his pit crew coming over the wall too early, putting him a lap down and eliminating him from the hunt for the lead.

It made for a stark contrast to Logano's race at Charlotte a week prior, where he scooped a $1 million prize in the All-Star race, but his loss was Johnson's gain, and the Hendrick Motorsports man seized second place.

cms 052916 10Traffic toward the end of the race began to slow the leader slightly, and Johnson closed up to within half a second. But Johnson too encountered the traffic, and a late turn of pace from Harvick got him past, and into second.

It was then Harvick's turn to set about trying to catch Truex, but nothing could touch the Furniture Row Racing machine, and he finished around two and a half seconds ahead of his rival.

"Well, I saw him for about 50 miles or 75 miles," Harvick said of Truex. "The rest of the night I never saw him. I was back there swatting flies in the middle of the pack. I didn't have a lot of time to see the 78."

"I kind of felt like he was playing with us," agreed Johnson. "He was so fast. I would flatfoot (Turns) 1 and 2, and have a nose on him, and he would drive right back by me into Turn 3. It was so fast. It was very impressive.

"I'm happy for Martin. That team and those guys worked awfully hard to get where they’re at."

Click here for full results.

Quotes by NASCAR Wire Service

Originally on Autosport.com

2016Indy500 MarshallPruett 529 2301Honda finally broke Chevrolet's 2016 dominance on Sunday.

At IndyCar's biggest race, at the grandest Indy 500 on record, the California-based Honda Performance Development team claimed pole position with James Hinchcliffe, finished 1-2 in the race, earned the fastest lap, and set the new standard for fuel mileage as Alexander Rossi led Andretti-Herta Autosport to Victory Lane.

"I think it's a just reward for so many years of support we've shown to IndyCar," HPD vice president Steve Eriksen told RACER. "To be able to take home this trophy and revel in it is fantastic. I was touring the new Honda America president around and we were showing him the history of the place, and having him here was a fantastic tie-in to winning the 100th."

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With a settle to score against its rival Chevrolet, whose teams owned the 2015 Indy 500 and have won the first five IndyCar Series races of the year, HPD's big Indy win was made possible by the brand's newest updates to its 2.2-liter twin-turbo V6 engine. Aero kits aside, Honda's angry little engine made the biggest difference this month, and with its design and development coming out of HPD's speed shop near Los Angeles, the homegrown angle to the win is unique for a company with Japanese origins.

"This is huge for us," Eriksen said. "We started work on this quite a while ago and to have it all come to this end, it's such a reward for all the associates at HPD who worked on it. It reaffirms our focus on the most important race of our season, and perhaps the entire world. We've done that with absolute laser focus, and I think that shows in our results."

HPD race team leader Allen Miller was relieved to see Rossi make it to the finish line first after saving fuel like a man possessed.

"All I was doing was watching the front straight and saw him come by really slow, but he made it," Miller told RACER. "We never give up, never say die. We all got together, decided what we needed to do after the last Indy 500, put our heads down, and we never gave up. Last year was hard, but we're back to fight now."

lat abbott IndyR 0516 6209Alexander Rossi says that resisting the urge to push during the final stint of Sunday's Indianapolis 500 despite having a fast car ultimately proved to be the key to his surprise win.

Rossi stretched his final tank of fuel to an extraordinary 36 laps while all those around him were forced to make late stops to top up, but admitted that hitting the fuel numbers that Bryan Herta was asking of him required self-discipline.

"It was just patience," Rossi said. "Bryan kept reminding me the way we were going to win this race was by hitting the fuel number. It was very difficult because obviously I had cars in front of me that I knew I was quicker than. Throughout the whole race we were overtaking cars. It was very hard to then not do that, look big picture. I wouldn't have been able to do that without Bryan on the radio and offering the support and wisdom that I needed."

Although he only emerged as an obvious threat in the second half of the race, Rossi says that he began to feel confident about his chances very early on.

"Probably lap five, if I'm honest," he said. "I had a bit of a conservative start. I was able to overtake cars. I knew if that was the case, we definitely had the opportunity to go forward. There were a couple setbacks we had; every time we fell back, we were able to come forward. I knew we were strong, the pace was there, we were able to pass cars, follow cars."

Rossi's win in the 100th running of the 500 came exactly five years after the late Dan Wheldon won the centennial race, also in the No.98.

"Maybe Danny was out there pushing the car for us today," Herta told RACER. "But Alex executed the perfect race. We had a plan with 50 to go that we were going to make it work with one stop and it was hard, because he had to save fuel and hold track position. It's impossible to do both, but somehow he managed it and just got to the end.

"We had two bad stops where he couldn't get plugged in, couldn't get fuel in the car; we fell all the way back to 25th. But he just kept going forward. We knew we had a fast car, we just kept burying ourselves in the field. We started marching forward, and we finally saw the opportunity to get off strategy. We knew that if we could get in the lead, we could stay up there. And from thereon we put the race in his hands, and he did a great job."

LAT cobb 160529 indy 4824He’s always unfailingly polite, humble, even-tempered and enthusiastic. But Josef Newgarden was struggling to display any of those emotions late Sunday afternoon.

“It just sucks that we didn’t have a shootout where we could have raced each other,” said most disappointed third-place finisher in recent Indianapolis 500 history.

“I really would have liked to race people. I would have been on the high side, doing something crazy to try and win this thing. I think that would have been a lot cooler but it didn’t work out.”

newgy2The 25-year-old from Hendersonville, Tenn. had to surrender the lead with seven laps left to put some fuel in his Preferred Freezer Chevy. Carlos Munoz followed suit on lap 197 and that left rookie Alex Rossi in the lead, where he feathered the throttle to the end of a 36-lap fuel stretch (left, leading Munoz and Newgarden).

“I think if I was in Alex’s position I’d be the happiest man in the world right now,” continued Newgarden, who started second for Ed Carpenter Racing and led four times for 14 laps. “They did a great job. I wouldn’t care how we won the damn race.

"It just sucks it didn’t play out the way we needed it to. Fuel became a factor and everyone was on different strategies. They played the fuel strategy but, for us, it would have been silly. When you have fast cars and know you have cars to win, you’ve got to go flat out and not play the fuel game.”

“To put it politely, I don’t think they were as quite as strong as us today, so they mixed it up and it paid off big time.”

Newgarden led the most laps last year, won twice and lost two other potential wins in the pits and it’s obvious he’s become one of the drivers to beat anywhere. His maturity in the face of gut-wrenching disappointment is always on display but it was tough to mask Sunday.

“It’s heartbreaking, to be honest,” he said. “Because I think we had the car to win. I’m not saying we should have won the race definitely because we had the best car. I just think we had a car that could have won.”

But the 2011 Indy Lights champion reverted to his normal personality when asked about heartbreaks.

“I don’t think I have a pity card to play. You could probably go through the list of guys that have nearly won this thing or should have won. This is really the first time I’ve ever felt like I could win this race and it didn’t happen.

“I’m thankful for that opportunity and can’t be sour about it but it’s tough.”

Image25Alexander Rossi, America's newest Indy 500 winner, and his team owner Bryan Herta speak with The RACER Channel's Robin Miller after earning the historic 500 victory.

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race lede2Alexander Rossi held off Andretti stablemate Carlos Munoz to earn a shock win in the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500.

A long spell under green during the final stint turned the race into a battle of fuel mileage, and Rossi, who’d been hovering on the outside of the top five, spent the final laps watching the cars around him peeling into the pits for a top-up and wondering whether he’d need to do the same.

It was close – his car came to a stop shortly after crossing the yard of bricks – but by then the job was done. Rossi backed off so much at the end that his final lap was 40mph slower than race pace. But it was enough.

lede3

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“We did it,” he said in disbelief. “We did it. I have no idea how we pulled that off. We struggled a little in the pit stops, but Bryan [Herta] came up with an unbelievable; strategy. I just can’t believe we’ve done this. I didn’t know [if we’d make it]. It’s an amazing result.”

Munoz, who completed the Andretti one-two, was among those who’d had to make a late stop for a top-up – just five laps from the finish, he’d been leading.

“I know I could have had that one,” he said. “To be half a lap short of fuel … it is what it is.”

Josef Newgarden had been among the front-runners all afternoon, but ultimately had to settle for third and best of the Chevys, with Tony Kanaan and Charlie Kimball rounding out the top five.

2016Indy500 MarshallPruett 529 721The result was an amazing reversal of fortune for Andretti, which had earlier watched what had looked like its two best prospects for the race drop out of contention in a friendly fire incident. Townsend Bell, who ran strongly at the front during the middle period of the race, was released from a pit stop into the path of Helio Castroneves, hit the Penske, and then bounced back into Ryan Hunter-Reay. Consequently, both Andretti cars lost time in the pits undergoing repairs. Bell eventually finished 21st; Hunter-Reay 24th.

It was a similarly dramatic afternoon for another of the big teams, with all four of Penske’s cars striking some sort of misfortune. Will Power was sent to the back of the field early on for an unsafe release in the pits, and Simon Pagenaud later suffered the same fate, and then had his problems compounded with an intermittent engine problem. Helio Castroneves was strongly-placed in the late stages until he had a rear pod knocked off by JR Hildebrand, and defending race champion Juan Pablo Montoya was the first to the showers when he lost the rear of his car at Turn 2 and crashed into the wall on lap 63.

A similar fate awaited Sage Karam, who’d climbed up to sixth only to crash while trying to run side by side with Townsend Bell through Turn 1, and Mikhail Aleshin, whose spin into the wall was followed immediately by Conor Daly spinning right behind him and clouting the stricken SPM car.

Elsewhere, Ed Carpenter was eliminated by an undisclosed mechanical problem, and Buddy Lazier by a very visible one – his left-front wheel fell off as he was exiting the pits after a stop. The 1996 winner had earlier endured a delayed start to the race after spending the opening 30-ish laps in the pits having a throttle problem dealt with.

Click here for full results.

monaco race ledeLewis Hamilton clinched his first Formula 1 victory of the 2016 season after pit stop heartbreak for Daniel Ricciardo in a thrilling rain-hit Monaco Grand Prix.

The reigning world champion's Mercedes finished seven seconds clear of polesitter Ricciardo in the Red Bull with Force India's Sergio Perez completing the podium.

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start monacoOvernight rain continued throughout the morning in Monaco with conditions sufficiently treacherous that the race was started under the safety car for the first time in its history.

After seven laps, the safety car was called in – a few laps after Hamilton had said on team radio that conditions were good enough to get under way – and Ricciardo pulled away in the lead, ahead of Nico Rosberg and Hamilton.

It became clear Hamilton was the faster of the two Mercedes, with Rosberg struggling with brake temperatures, so the team instructed the German to let Hamilton past.

Hamilton set off in chase of Ricciardo and although the track was drying out, he chose to stay out on full wets when Ricciardo pitted for intermediates and therefore inherited the lead.

Ricciardo caught Hamilton quickly and retook the lead when the Mercedes pitted for the ultra-soft at the end of lap 31 of 78. The Australian pitted next time around, but a miscommunication meant the tires were not ready when he reached the pitbox.

Eventually, the team fitted super-softs and got him out, but as he exited the pits Hamilton swept around the outside to retake the lead.

Ricciardo closed on Hamilton as they went through the tunnel with the Mercedes cutting the chicane and then bullishly blocking his rival as he came under attack on the outside on the run to Tabac. Ricciardo waved his hand in frustration but the stewards decided to take no further action after investigating the incident.

ham win monacoHamilton then absorbed pressure from Ricciardo to keep the lead and secure his 44th career victory – and first since he clinched his third world title in last year's United States GP.

Perez jumped to third with well-timed tire changes and then resisted heavy pressure from Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari to give Force India its first podium of 2016.

Vettel's teammate Kimi Raikkonen retired early on when he crashed at Loews, blocking Romain Grosjean as he tried to rejoin and then pulling off at the exit of the tunnel with his front wing lodged underneath the car.

Fernando Alonso finished a brilliant fifth place with Nico Hulkenberg stealing sixth off a low-key Rosberg on the final lap. That means Hamilton has cut the gap to Rosberg in the championship to 24 points. Carlos Sainz Jr., Jenson Button and Felipe Massa completed the top 10.

Sauber asked Felipe Nasr to cede position to team-mate Marcus Ericsson but the Brazilian questioned the decision. Ericsson then tried a move at Rascasse and the two cars collided, resulting in both retiring soon afterward.

Max Verstappen, winner of the previous race in Spain, fought his way up into the points after starting from the pitlane but crashed at Massenet – his third crash of the weekend.

It was a tough race for Renault, with Jolyon Palmer crashing when he lost grip on the pits straight kink as the race began and Kevin Magnussen hitting the barrier at Mirabeau.

Magnussen had previously collided with Daniil Kvyat at Rascasse, with Kvyat later retiring, having been a lap down after suffering a problem with his steering wheel at the start.

RESULTS - 78 LAPS:

PosDriverCarGap
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1h59m29.133s
2 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 7.252s
3 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 13.825s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 15.846s
5 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1m25.076s
6 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m32.999s
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m33.290s
8 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Ferrari 1 Lap
9 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1 Lap
10 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1 Lap
11 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1 Lap
12 Esteban Gutierrez Haas/Ferrari 1 Lap
13 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 2 Laps
14 Pascal Wehrlein Manor/Mercedes 2 Laps
15 Rio Haryanto Manor/Mercedes 2 Laps
- Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari Retirement
- Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari Retirement
- Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault Retirement
- Kevin Magnussen Renault Retirement
- Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Ferrari Retirement
- Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Retirement
- Jolyon Palmer Renault Retirement

DRIVERS' CHAMPIONSHIP

PosDriverPoints
1 Nico Rosberg 106
2 Lewis Hamilton 82
3 Daniel Ricciardo 66
4 Kimi Raikkonen 61
5 Sebastian Vettel 60
6 Max Verstappen 38
7 Felipe Massa 37
8 Valtteri Bottas 29
9 Sergio Perez 23
10 Daniil Kvyat 22
11 Romain Grosjean 22
12 Fernando Alonso 18
13 Carlos Sainz 16
14 Nico Hulkenberg 14
15 Kevin Magnussen 6
16 Jenson Button 5
17 Stoffel Vandoorne 1
18 Esteban Gutierrez 0
19 Jolyon Palmer 0
20 Marcus Ericsson 0
21 Pascal Wehrlein 0
22 Felipe Nasr 0
23 Rio Haryanto 0

CONSTRUCTORS' CHAMPIONSHIP

PosConstructorPoints
1 Mercedes 188
2 Ferrari 121
3 Red Bull/Renault 112
4 Williams/Mercedes 66
5 Force India/Mercedes 37
6 Toro Rosso/Ferrari 30
7 McLaren/Honda 24
8 Haas/Ferrari 22
9 Renault 6
10 Sauber/Ferrari 0
11 Manor/Mercedes 0
   
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

 

Originally on Autosport.com

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