An Indianapolis 500 Like No Other

Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski was on hand for the start of Sunday’s Indianapolis 500. (IndyCar Photo)

Since the Dallara DW12 was introduced in 2012 the car has put on two spectacular Indianapolis 500 races – the two most competitive in the 102-year history of the race. So is there a danger in opening up innovation to get the cars to run faster with the introduction of Aero Kits in 2014?

“We are here to compete and competition will always breed changes,” Phillips said. “We can’t be frightened to have innovation come to Indy.”

It was also an Indy 500 like no other for Honda, which had won every Indianapolis 500 since 2004 but Chevrolet won it this year. Justin Wilson was the highest finishing Honda driver in fifth place.

“Disappointed for them,” Phillips said of Honda. “We always want that competition but it’s good for Chevy. Honda wanted competition here and now they have it.”

It was also a different Indy 500 for Target/Chip Ganassi Racing as both drivers Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti finished outside the top 10 and were never in contention for the victory. Dixon finished 14th and Franchitti crashed with three laps to go and finished 23rd.

“We struggled all day,” Dixon said. “For straight-up speed or car balance we lacked the gears. They were way too short. We came out of Turn 4 and got onto the rev limiter. Tags got into the wall and I tried to get into the pits I tried to go to lift and didn’t have the gears to get it done and it just didn’t work. The pit sequences would have helped us late in the race but without being able to downshift it messed everything up. It was bad.”

“Today, we were never really in the hunt so in some ways it was a little more acceptable but it still sucks.”

Franchitti felt the odd mixture of emotions from crashing in the wall at the end of the race but seeing his longtime friend and former teammate Tony Kanaan finally win his first Indy 500.

“It was a hell of a hit,” Franchitti said of his crash. “If I was going to do that on purpose it would have been smaller. That one was too big. It was a crappy day. We were never in contention. The car was crap. Nothing worked right today. That is what happens at Indy – when you get it right you can win it. He won in No. 11 and that has never won before. Dr. Terry Trammell was in the medical center and he was crying because he was so happy that he won. It was so good to see Tony win it. He has just had crap timing and he kept trying. You will have to start looking for new stories because he is not Lloyd Ruby any more. I’m pretty happy.

“The car was crap but that was great to see. I think Tony feels different. I spoke to him in Victory Lane. A lot of me is delighted right now that he has won it. That was awesome for him.

“The track changed a bit but our car was dreadful all day. We were never in contention. We didn’t get the gear ratios right and the balance wasn’t good. I drove an average race. I did a good job not to crash the car until that last lap. It was not a great day for any of the Ganassi cars. It wasn’t luck we just didn’t do the job right. When you get it right you can challenge for a win and we didn’t do that today. This place is as difficult as ever.”

Franchitti said his crash was a big one and hurt his knees a bit but he was never in contention for the race victory. Meantime, Kanaan was celebrating the signature victory of his career.

“Trust me, he is feeling relief right now,” Franchitti said of Kanaan. “He is amazed this has happened right now and I am delighted for him. If they put him on one side of the trophy and be on the other they could use our noses as handles to lift it up. That he is the 100th face on the Borg Warner Trophy it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

“I remember when he had that dreadful wreck he couldn’t lie down because he hurt so much from that accident. He will feel it tomorrow but it will be a different kind of pain.”