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Trackside Update: The 97th Running of the Indianapolis 500

The 97th Running the Indianapolis 500-mile race is in the books, and while victory eluded the "Andretti 5" there is still plenty for which the the Andretti Autosport stable can be proud. The team was a consistent reminder to the field just how fierce the competition is in the IZOD IndyCar Series. A regular feature atop the lap charts, the team dubbed the "Fantastic Five" each took their turns leading laps today around the 2.5-mile oval, and after a leap-frog battle for the first position, the team finished the race under caution with three drivers inside the top four. Fans at today’s race saw a record-high 68 lead changes over the duration of 200 laps on the way to a checkered flag under caution conditions after the No. 10 car made contact in Turn 1 in the closing laps.

Indy 500 Rookie (and full-time Firestone Indy Lights driver) Carlos Munoz led for 12 laps in today's 500-mile race and recorded the fastest leader lap at 223.651mph. Getting out of the No. 26 Unistraw Chevrolet, Muñoz, surrounded by family, was upset he couldn't challenge Tony Kanaan but was extremely proud of a second-place finish in his first Indianapolis 500. "I really wanted to fight for the win. Maybe I could win, maybe not, but I really wanted to fight," Carlos said. "I have nothing to be ashamed of. To be second and a rookie is a great job. At the beginning I was a little bit nervous with the pit stops, but in the end, the car was great and it's a good second place. Hopefully in the future I will be able to drink milk. Right now I'm thirsty, but hopefully it's in the future for me."

Hunter-Reay thought his DHL Chevy was the car to beat today, but circumstances proved against him as the American brought home a third-place finish — his personal best at Indianapolis. The crowd on-hand saw plenty of the DHL car at the front, as the Florida resident led 26 laps and was among the fastest cars on track all day. "That's just the way it works out," said Ryan. "That was bad luck. We were leading on that last restart. I knew I was a sitting duck and I wasn't too bummed about it because I knew we had enough laps to get it going again and have a pass back and maybe I would be third on the last lap which is where I wanted to be and it didn't work out that way. There was a crash in Turn 1 and the race ended. It's unfortunate. Big congratulations to Tony (Kanaan), though. He has been there so many times had bad luck and for whatever reason the race has alluded him. Great champion… certainly deserves it. But man am I disappointed. I think the DHL No. 1 Chevy was the car to beat today. Had we been at the right place at the right time I'm confident we would have won it and that's just the way this place goes. This entire Andretti Autosport team did a great job all month."

Marco Andretti drove an aggressive but calculated race today, leading 31 laps and bringing the No. 25 RC Cola Chevrolet home in fourth place. It was his fourth top-four finish at Indianapolis, and his first since scoring third-place in 2010. The third-generation driver now leads the championship points standings. "It was great to get the points today but was hoping for more for the RC team," said Marco. "I think when we went for the trim, we were kinda in the worst case scenario; we got shuffled back behind the teammates. Carlos (Munoz) is a tough one to follow – but he drove a heck of a race. Congratulations to Tony Kanaan. Thanks to the RC Cola crew for giving me a great car for the entire month."

E.J. Viso started his sixth Indianapolis 500 from the inside of row two to roll off the grid in fourth. The 28-year-old from Caracas, Venezuela was consistently in the top 10 throughout the 500-mile race and was seen leading the race for five laps. During his sixth and final pit stop, Viso encountered some trouble leaving the pits when he and his No. 5 Team Venezuela PDVSA CITGO crew accidentally stalled his Chevy-powered Dallara. The long pit stop unfortunately brought E.J. to the 25th position following the stop but fought his way to the end to come to the twin checkers in 18th – tying his best career finish in Indy. "I'm extremely happy for the team. This is an amazing improvement for everyone, especially for me and my career. Being with this team… means a lot. Being able to be in the top five for pretty much the first three-quarters of the race was amazing running with those guys is where I should be running all the time. A little mistake here in the pits – I selected neutral too fast and I stalled the engine and that pretty much ruined our race. We were hoping for a yellow the last part of the race, maybe not that late, but maybe 23 laps to go, and we were going to be able to maybe shoot for the top 10. I'm happy for the team – very happy for them. We have a strong car and this year is going to be a good year for us."

The Mayor of Hinchtown’s day looked promising early, as the No. 27 GoDaddy Chevrolet stayed with the lead pack. Hinch led seven laps as the team was on a slightly different strategy, looking to hit a fuel number good enough to put them out front at the end. However, on Lap 133, Hinchcliffe made light contact with the outside wall exiting Turn 2. It didn't end his day, the Canadian finish 21st. "We just didn't have the speed today; it's unfortunate because it wasn't the handling, the car was just a bit off. When the pack is running 25 cars all on the same straightaway and you're just a little bit off on speed than you’re just a sitting duck. It's so tough to move up and keep guys behind you, but we had an eventful race trying to stay in the lead pack. The engineers did a good job, the car was handling well and the guys were unbelievable in the pit stops. I feel bad that the GoDaddy Chevy didn't finish a bit higher and they deserved a lot better than what we got. It's a tough pill to swallow; you hate something like that on any race day, but certainly not this one. I'm happy for the team. I'm gutted that the last yellow flag came out when it did and potentially cost the team a win because this whole organization has done an incredibly great job. Two, three and four speaks volumes of our crew. Congrats to Tony (Kanaan) and the KV Racing guys, we'll regroup and go win two in Detroit."

Next on the schedule is the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit on Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, June 2 at 4 p.m. ET each day. Live television coverage can be seen on ABC along with the traditional broadcast by the IMS Radio Network, including on Sirius and XM Channels 211 and www.indycar.com. Next week’s event on Belle Isle is the first of three doubleheaders on the circuit this season. In the meantime, keep up to date on all things Andretti Autosport by joining us on Twitter (@FollowAndretti) and don't forget to 'Like' us on Facebook where you can enter to be our featured Fan of the Week.

 
 

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