- Fuel gambles from Stefan Wilson, Jack Harvey and Oriol Servia come up short
- Come-from-behind efforts from Alexander Rossi, Graham Rahal
- Robert Wickens paces rookie field, finishes ninth
Competing pit strategies converged in the final laps of today’s Indianapolis 500, as Scott Dixon and his Chip Ganassi Racing team worked fuel saving to the maximum to finish third, while Alexander Rossi brought his Andretti Autosport Honda to fourth after a series of thrilling outside passes.
On a day of unofficial record high temperatures in the 90’s, a series of yellow flags around the 50-lap mark led roughly half the field to adopt a fuel-saving strategy which netted them one less pit stop during the race, while the other half relied on speed to make up the time difference caused by the extra stop.
The group with the upper hand varied during the middle third of the 200-lap contest, but Honda drivers and teams featured in both.
The fuel-saving group including Dixon, veteran Oriol Servia, second-time “500” starters Stefan Wilson and Jack Harvey, and rookie Zachary Claman De Melo. The Honda quintet was running first through fifth at Lap 180 [of 200], with Servia at the point. The yellow flag flew for the seventh and final time on Lap 189, and on the Lap 192 restart Wilson rapidly moved around Servia to lead with just eight laps remaining.
Harvey also passed Servia for second, but both were forced to pit for a splash of fuel on Lap 197. Servia and Claman De Melo pitted one lap later, leaving Dixon to lead the Honda field home, in third, behind race winner Will Power.
The second group included Honda drivers Graham Rahal, Robert Wickens, Marco Andretti and Alexander Rossi. Starting 32nd after cutting a tyre during his qualifying run last weekend, Rossi pulled off pass after pass right from the green flag, gaining seven positions in the first 15 laps and continuing to work his way up the order. Running 12th on Lap 117, Rossi gained another seven places during a pair of restarts on Lap 144 and 152, moving him to third with 40 laps remaining. Dixon’s ability to save fuel to the finish dropped Rossi to fourth at the checkers.
After starting 30th, Rahal made steady progress up the running order, leading 12 laps mid-race. As the differing strategies converged in the final 20 laps, Rahal finished 10th. Just ahead at the checkers, Robert Wickens completed an impressive Indy 500 debut, as the rookie also led two laps en route to a ninth-place result, highest of the four rookies in the field.
Scott Dixon (#9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) finished 3rd
“We were trying to save fuel at the end and we knew we had to take a gamble with the PNC Bank car. We just didn’t have the speed today and the restarts were tough for us. That [finish] was all due to my team, though. They made that great strategy call and all I did was get the fuel number they gave me. Huge congrats to [race winner] Will Power. I know he’s been very hungry for this and congratulations to him.”
Alexander Rossi (#27 Andretti Autosport Honda) finished 4th
“I feel like we did what we could, and we maximized what we had. The NAPA Andretti Honda team did everything right. I don’t look back on anything and wish we’d done anything different. Despite, it was a good day from a championship perspective. We didn’t have enough to win, but congrats to Will [Power].”
Robert Wickens (#6 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda) finished 9th, top rookie finisher
“It was an emotional rollercoaster today. I thought we had a great car, but we just couldn’t progress. We would make some moves forward with the strategy, and then we would get a yellow that would put us at the back again. Hats off to the Lucas Oil SPM boys – we had great pit stops all day. Finally, at the end we could let loose and pick people off, and we went from 19th to ninth in the last 10 laps. Today was a lot of fun. I’m leaving here feeling like I want more, but a top-10 finish as a rookie in the Indy 500… it’s hard to complain.”
Stefan Wilson (#25 Andretti Autosport Honda) finished 15th after leading three laps
“It was so close – it was a great strategy call by the team. The No. 25 Driven2SaveLives team did a great job all day. With that strategy call, we knew we were gambling. We knew we were rolling the dice. We were just hoping for another yellow flag at the end. I was leading, and I knew we were strong enough and wouldn’t be able to be passed but the yellow just didn’t come. While I was out there leading, I was just out there thinking if it goes yellow now my dreams are made. It didn’t happen, but we led our first laps, we learned a lot this month and it was mad fun, so I’m leaving here with a smile on my face and my head held high.”
Art St. Cyr (president, Honda Performance Development) on today’s Indianapolis 500
“The best you can ever hope for at the Indianapolis 500 is to have multiple cars in contention for victory late in the race, and we did that today. As the race developed, there were two different [pit] strategies in play, and Honda drivers featured in both. Scott [Dixon’s] bold fuel-saving tactic, came very close to paying off today. And Alexander [Rossi] pulled off some of the most amazing passes I’ve ever seen here, at one point making up seven positions on two restarts. He’s clearly proving that his victory here in 2016 was no fluke. Unfortunately, we were unable to add to our 12 Indianapolis 500 victories here today, but we’ll go on to Detroit next week looking for a repeat of last year’s doubleheader sweep.”
IndyCar Series 2018 Round 06: INDY500
|1||Will Power (Team Penske)|
|2||Ed Carpenter (Ed Carpenter Racing)|
|3||Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing)|
|4||Alexander Rossi (Andretti Autosport)|
|5||Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport)|
|6||Simon Pagenaud (Team Penske)|
|7||Carlos Munoz (Andretti Autosport)|
|8||Josef Newgarden (Team Penske)|
|9||Robert Wickens (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports)|
|10||Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing)|
|12||Marco Andretti (Andretti Herta Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian)|
|15||Stefan Wilson (Andretti Autosport)|
|16||Jack Harvey (Meyer Shark Racing with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports)|
|17||Oriol Servia (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing)|
|19||Zachary Claman De Melo (Dale Coyne Racing)|
|21||Conor Daly (Dale Coyne Racing dba Thom Burns Racing)|
|23||Zach Veach (Andretti Autosport)|
|24||Jay Howard (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports)|
|28||Sebastien Bourdais (Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan)|
|31||Ed Jones (Chip Ganassi Racing)|
|32||Takuma Sato (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing)|