Tony Kanaan wins Indianapolis 500 for Australian team owner
Brazilian driver Tony Kanaan has won a pulsating Indianapolis 500 for Australian car owner, Kevin Kalkhoven, which ironically finished under caution after a lengthy green flag period.
After the race ran green for over 100 laps, Graham Rahal triggered a yellow period with nine laps to go. When the race resumed with four laps remaining, Kanaan entered turn one three wide alongside the Andretti Autosport machines of Ryan Hunter-Reay and stunning Rookie, Carlos Munoz.
That was the critical moment of the race as last year’s winner, Dario Franchitti ended a disappointing race in the turn one wall.
The capacity Indianapolis crowd went ballistic as fan favourite Kanaan followed the Safety Car around to cross the yard of bricks and continue the run of international drivers winning America’s biggest race which began in 2006.
“I got a bit of luck today, I was looking at the stands and the response from fans was unbelievable, it’s for the fans, I’ve made it and finally I get to put my ugly face on that trophy!” Kanaan exclaimed in victory lane.
“I couldn’t believe it when the yellow flag came out (at the end of the race), I was wondering how many laps to go, they said only two, the last lap was the longest lap of my life!
“I promised my boy back home a trophy, and its a good one.”
The “Andretti curse” at Indianapolis continued, with the Andretti Autosport machines finishing the race in second, third and fourth. Hunter-Reay, Munoz and Andretti were at the pointy end of the field all race and having shared the lead between themselves, could consider the outcome to be unlucky.
Munoz was one of the true stories of the race. The 21-year-old Rookie who competed in the Indy Lights race on Friday impressed in his first IZOD IndyCar Series start on the world’s biggest stage to walk away with second place having challenged for the race lead throughout much of the 200 laps.
Team-mate, James Hinchcliffe struggled for setup on the GoDaddy car throughout the event and was lucky to make a save coming out of turn two on lap 130 – both the Canadian’s hands came completely off the steering wheel at almost 350km/h.
AJ Allmendinger was arguably the most spectacular driver of the day, taking the lead a touch past the halfway point. At lap 114 he had to make an unexpected pitstop for his seatbelts that came loose – this put him out of sequence with the remainder of the field and looked likely to get to the point as the laps were winding down. It wasn’t to be however, he came home in seventh placing.
The Australians had a torrid day at the Brickyard. The best performed was Will Power who elevated himself into the top 10 in the latter part of the race, however drifted to 19th at the end. Ryan Briscoe didn’t feature in any part of the race and came home in 12th position, whilst Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s poor day extended to Kiwi Scott Dixon who came home in 14th position.
Power led a number of laps, principally during the pitstop periods.
A race record number of lead changes – 68 in total – was the hallmark of a sensational race, where 14 cars lead the race at some point, another record. The average speed of the race was 301.6km/h.
Pole sitter Ed Carpenter led many laps, however inexplicably midway through the race he lost a great deal of pace and drifted backwards. He crossed the line 10th. He was heavy on fuel use in relation to those around him.
Of the four female racers, Ana Beatriz was the best performed, coming home in 16th.
The race had three early caution periods before going 110 laps without a safety car intervention. The first to trigger a yellow was JR Hildebrand on lap four who’s air was taken from him by a close following James Hinchcliffe.
On the 37th lap, Sebastian Saveedra had the racetrack taken away from him and he went around crashing hard. A further 20 laps ensued before Takuma Sato spun on his own.
Sato was able to recover to the top 10 for AJ Foyt Racing but relinquished his IZOD IndyCar Series points lead to Marco Andretti – a tough consolation for the third generation Andretti racer.
Rahal’s crash on lap 194 could not have come at a worse time. With the lead swapping approximately every lap and a half, the cards were beginning to be laid on the table and the elbows were extending to what should have been a stunning finish.
Instead, the race finished under caution, however the win by Kanaan was universally popular among the IndyCar fraternity, with his rivals rushing to congratulate him, led by the Andretti drivers and Franchitti.
Two former IndyCar legends in Alex Zanardi and Max Papis were sitting in Kanaan’s box and were in tears when their good friend crossed the line.
Making the win even more stunning was the fact that Kanaan took the victory with torn ligaments in his left thumb.
In the engine battle, Chevrolet occupied six of the top seven placings, with Brit Justin Wilson being the lead Honda in fifth placing. Just seven cars failed to make it to the finish.
If it wasn’t for the yellow flags, race organisers and teams were sweating over the local weather forecast with rain approaching the venue – the race finished 20 minutes before rain was predicted for the Indianapolis area.
Kanaan places himself among a very rare group – just four Brazilians have taken victory in the Indy 500 – Emerson Fittipaldi, three times Champion, Helio Castroneves (who was one of the 14 leaders today) and Gil de Ferran.
Meantime, Kalkhoven becomes the second Australian team owner to win the 500, joining Kim and Barry Green who won the 1995 race with Jacques Villeneuve and the 2005 and 2007 races with the late Dan Wheldon and Franchitti respectively in an association with Andretti.
The next round of the IZOD IndyCar Series will be next weekend with the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit with a double race format.
RESULTS: 2013 Indianapolis 500
Pos'n Driver Team/Engine Gap to Lead 1. Tony Kanaan KV/Chevy 2. Carlos Munoz Andretti/Chevy + 0.1159 3. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti/Chevy + 0.2480 4. Marco Andretti Andretti/Chevy + 0.3634 5. Justin Wilson Coyne/Honda + 0.8138 6. Helio Castroneves Penske/Chevy + 3.0086 7. AJ Allmendinger Penske/Chevy + 4.0107 8. Simon Pagenaud Schmidt/Honda + 4.2609 9. Charlie Kimball Ganassi/Honda + 5.6864 10. Ed Carpenter Carpenter/Chevy + 6.8425 11. Oriol Servia Panther DRR/Chevy + 7.8633 12. Ryan Briscoe Ganassi/Honda + 8.9216 13. Takuma Sato Foyt/Honda + 10.2602 14. Scott Dixon Ganassi/Honda + 11.3858 15. Ana Beatriz Coyne/Honda + 12.2657 16. Tristan Vautier Schmidt/Honda + 15.3045 17. Simona De Silvestro KV/Chevy + 15.7201 18. EJ Viso Andretti/Chevy + 17.8056 19. Will Power Penske/Chevy + 22.5403 20. James Jakes Rahal/Honda + 1 lap 21. James Hinchcliffe Andretti/Chevy + 1 lap 22. Conor Daly Foyt/Honda + 2 laps 23. Dario Franchitti Ganassi/Honda + 3 laps 24. Alex Tagliani Herta/Honda + 4 laps 25. Graham Rahal Rahal/Honda + 7 laps 26. Katherine Legge Schmidt/Honda + 7 laps 27. Townsend Bell Panther/Chevy + 8 laps 28. Josef Newgarden Fisher/Honda + 9 laps
DNF Sebastien Bourdais Dragon/Chevy 178 laps DNF Pippa Mann Coyne/Honda 46 laps DNF Buddy Lazier Lazier/Chevy 44 laps DNF Sebastian Saavedra Dragon/Chevy 34 laps DNF JR Hildebrand Panther/Chevy 3 laps