Kanaan Finally Wins The Indianapolis 500

Tony Kanaan gets a celebratory kiss from his wife Lauren in victory lane after winning the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. (Ginny Heithaus Photo)

Kanaan finished ahead of Munoz, who started and finished second and is virtually assured of winning the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of Year Award at Monday Night’s Victory Awards Ceremony. Hunter-Reay finished third ahead of Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti as the top-four positions were Chevrolet teams.

Justin Wilson’s fifth-place finish for Dale Coyne Racing was the top Honda with three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves finishing sixth.

“The Shell V-Power/Pennzoil/Ultra was running smooth like a Swiss watch,” Castroneves said. “It was very nice. A lot of people (other drivers) behaved, so it was great. The race actually went really fast. Congrats to Tony (Kanaan). He got his win. It was well-deserved. He did a great job. It was a very safe race. I was just having issues with the (rev) limiter. I was trying to pass a lot of people, but unfortunately it was hitting the limiter. That was one of those things. My pit stops were awesome. Great job. Great weather. Awesome crowd. We finished top six, which is great championship-wise for points, and that is what we are looking for, as well. When you don’t win, you have to look on the positive side, and that is the championship.”

Allmendinger was seventh to give team owner Roger Penske two drivers in the top seven and Simon Pagenaud finished eighth in a Honda. Charlie, Kimball, who early in the race was running last on the track, somehow battled back to finish ninth just ahead of this year’s Indy 500 Pole Winner Ed Carpenter of the United States.

Carpenter led the most laps of any driver when his Chevy was in front six times for 37 laps. Kanaan was next with 16 lead changes for 34 laps followed by Andretti’s 15 for 31, Hunter-Reay’s 13 for 26, Allmendinger’s three for 23.

The lead changes were wild and spectacular in a race that throughout the years has usually seen a dominant car. On Sunday, the field was as evenly matched as any Indy 500 in history.

“It was awesome running up front all day in Indianapolis, having the car to put you up front,” Hunter-Reay said. “I could just put it where I wanted to and pass when I wanted to. We were just kind of biding our time. That was a lot of fun running with my teammates. Carlos did a great job.

“The frustrating part is we were quick enough. I was leading by a bit of a margin there over T.K. or Marco. We had lap traffic coming up. I thought, this is great, if we can get in lap traffic, I can distance myself because our car was great in traffic.”

Those plans were foiled, however, by the Rahal caution that created a decisive race restart that proved victorious for Kanaan.

“Right as I was getting into the tow from the traffic, the yellow came,” Hunter-Reay explained. “We were leading and the rest is history. When you’re up front leading, especially on a restart, you might as well be driving a bulldozer. Everybody comes on by.

“I’m actually happy we got third. I figured with that restart, being first, we would have been shuffled back to fourth or so. When I got through turn one, tucking in behind Carlos, I said, ‘You know what, this is perfect. We’re third with four laps to go. I can bide my time, put myself into a position to fight for it at the end,’ but it never came because of the yellow came right back out. It’s unfortunate.

“But I have to say I’m very happy for Tony Kanaan. He’s done such a great job. He’s a great champion. He’s done a great job here his whole career. He’s had plenty, I’m sure, of the days I’ve had. It feels good you get so close and it doesn’t work out.

“I’m very happy for him, very deserving. I’m just disappointed because I think the No. 1 DHL Chevy was probably the one to beat.”