Indianapolis, IN, United States (4E Sports) – Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport edged three-time winner Helio Castroneves by .0600 of a second — the second-closest margin of victory in the history of the event – in a six-lap shootout to claim his Indy 500 crown.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Hunter-Reay, the first American winner since Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006.
“This race is American history; this is better than a championship. I hope the fans loved it because I was on the edge of my seat,” added Hunter-Reay, who started 19th in his No. 28 Andretti Autosport car.
There were 34 lead changes among 11 drivers in the fast-paced 200 laps (186.563 mph average), with Hunter-Reay regaining the point from Castroneves for good on Lap 199 by a scant .0235 of a second.
Hunter-Reay recorded a 220.927 mph final lap to Castroneves’ 220.729 mph, which essentially was the difference in the battle between drivers, teams and Honda and Chevrolet.
“It’s interesting when second place kind of sucks,” said Castroneves, who started fourth in the No. 3 Pennzoil Ultra Platinum Team Penske car. “What a fight. But certainly taking the positive out of this, it was a great race.”
Hunter-Reay’s teammate, Marco Andretti, finished .3171 of a second back for his third third-place finish in nine starts.
Carlos Munoz, who finished second last year as a rookie, finished fourth, 2000 Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya was fifth and Kurt Busch placed sixth.
The shootout was set up when INDYCAR officials red-flagged the race on Lap 192 for seven minutes for crews to fix the Turn 2 SAFER Barrier and clean up from the single-car incident involving Townsend Bell’s No. 6 Robert Graham KV Racing Technology entry. Bell had been running fifth — 1.8 seconds behind Hunter-Reay.
Hunter-Reay and Castroneves alternated as the front-runner through Lap 199 – Hunter-Reay leading by only .0196 of a second at the line on Lap 198. The closest margin of victory was .043 of a second by Al Unser Jr. over Scott Goodyear, who was an analyst in the ABC booth on this day, in 1992.
With double points awarded for the three 500-mile races this season – the Indy 500, Pocono Raceway on July 6 and Auto Club Speedway on Aug. 30 – Hunter-Reay took the championship lead over Power, 274-234. Hunter-Reay entered the race trailing by one point.