The 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 played to a sellout crowd at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and a rare live local television audience, and was won by a surprising rookie who coasted across the finish line out of gas. The day 99 years in the making was filled with pomp and circumstance and more than lived up to its 100 days of promotion.
A ROOKIE ON TOP.
On the biggest motorsports stage imaginable, Alexander Rossi picked the perfect day to make unimaginable history before a sellout crowd at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a worldwide television audience tuned in.
The 24-year-old Californian and Verizon IndyCar Series rookie literally coasted across the finish line to win the epic 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 in most memorable fashion.
Driving the No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Honda, Rossi stretched his last tank of fuel over the final 36 laps around the hallowed 2.5-mile oval, running dry of Sunoco E85R as he entered Turn 4 on the final lap. The car’s momentum was enough to carry Rossi across the finish line 4.4975 seconds ahead of teammate Carlos Muñoz.
In the process, Rossi became the 10th rookie in Indianapolis 500 history to win the race and the first since Helio Castroneves in 2001. He became a Verizon IndyCar Series winner in just his sixth race and the first to win a race in his debut season since Carlos Huertas in 2014.
ONE IN FIVE.
Now four-time Indianapolis 500 champions, Andretti Autosport set the bar this May with an early showing of force at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. With not one, but five competitive cars all month long, the team led by Michael Andretti was full throttle with sights firmly set on the Borg Warner.
A total of 88 laps were led amongst the team’s stable of five, with DHL driver Ryan Hunter-Reay topping the laps led chart with 15 appearances as the race leader, totaling 52 laps led. Though both were top contenders, a “traffic flow issue” on pit lane sidelined the hopes of Hunter-Reay and Townsend Bell, both of which clearly had the speed for victory. Third-generation racer Marco Andretti hoped to exorcise the “Andretti Curse” with a centennial win, but the racing Gods didn’t pick the 29-year-old on Sunday. The No. 27 machine suffered set backs pushing victory back into the realm of future hopes for Andretti.
It was Carlos Muñoz in the United Fiber & Data machine that quietly positions himself as a major contender over 500 miles. Having started on the second row, Muñoz kept strong pace all race and was poised to steal the win from teammate Rossi. While strategy played out in the end, the Colombian delivered a 1-2 finish for Andretti Honda team.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING.
“For a series that like every other form of motor sports needs to attract younger fans, this felt as much as a glance forward as a longing look behind. Lady Gaga rode with Mario Andretti in a two-seater that preceded the field. A Skrillex concert, light show twinkling, continued in Turn 3 as the race began. A branded race hash tag led the world. With the first complete sellout in the history of the race and an attendance that likely surpassed the entirety of the Sprint Cup season so far combined, IndyCar mattered Sunday.” – USA Today
“Even before Alexander Rossi sputtered across the finish line to win the Indianapolis 500, race organizers and IndyCar officials were looking to seize the momentum from the historic 100th running of the showcase event. They’ve put together a new ad campaign, kicked off a ticket renewal effort and have drivers urging everyone in the series to promote the sport.” – Associated Press
“Watched by a sun-kissed sell-out crowd of close to 400,000, who helped pump an estimated $350 million into the local economy, and topped off by an American winner to highlight a Memorial Day holiday weekend, this year’s Indy 500 was by at all levels an unmitigated high-octane success.” – Reuters