IndyCar - Wheldon Wins 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 As Hilderbrand Crashes On Final Lap
INDIANAPOLIS, May 30, 2011: JR Hildebrand stood beside A crumpled car and ran his fingers through his hair, trying to discern just what transpired on the final lap of the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500.
The 23-year-old Californian was a few hundred yards from being the first rookie to win the race since Helio Castroneves in 2001 and creating a storyline that would follow him into the record books. But, as all veterans will say, nothing is for certain in 200 laps of racing on the 2.5-mile strip of asphalt.
Hildebrand's No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car drifted up the track exiting Turn 4 and smacked the SAFER Barrier. Dan Wheldon, the 2005 race and IZOD IndyCar Series champion, was Danny on the spot for the victory.
Wheldon's No. 98 William Rast-CURB/Big Machine car for Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb/Agajanian overtook Hildebrand's sliding car and crossed the start/finish line under yellow. Chief steward Brian Barnhart said there's no requirement for cars not involved in an accident to stay behind those involved/disabled.
"It's a fantastic achievement everybody at Bryan Herta Autosport," said Wheldon, his voice choking with emotion. "I love everything about Indianapolis - the tradition, the fans, the history."
A Panther Racing car has been the Indy 500 runner-up the past four years (including 2009 and '10 driven by Wheldon).
Wheldon, who started sixth, said his surprise of seeing Hildebrand car make heavy right-side contact with the SAFER Barrier turned to "relief." Wheldon was running fifth with 10 laps remaining, but jumped into contention when race leader Bertrand Baguette pitted for a splash on Lap 197 and he overtook Scott Dixon a lap later.
"I was just trying to go as hard as I could," continued Wheldon, who was competing in his first race of the season. "I knew it was the last lap and I knew some of those guys were struggling with fuel (he pitted on Lap 177). I've been runner-up two years before this, but I never gave up. It's an incredible feeling."
Hildebrand, who inherited the lead when Baguette pitted, said he was trying to conserve fuel (he last pitted on Lap 164) on the white flag lap.
"I knew we were really tight on fuel coming to the end, and the spotters were in my ear saying, 'The guys are coming and they're coming hard,' '' said Hildebrand, who qualified 12th (the fastest rookie). "We had to conserve a little fuel and the tires were coming to the end of their stint. I was hanging a little on to get the thing around.
"I made a judgment call catching up on the 83 (the lapped car driven by fellow rookie Charlie Kimball) and I thought I don't really want to slow down behind him and pull out on the straightaway, and I've been able to make this move on the outside before and so I went to the high side and because it was at the end of the stint I got up in the marbles and that was it.
"I'm OK, but this is not really about me at this point. You always show up to try to win. My disappointment is for the team and for National Guard as a sponsor. It's one of the those things, as a driver, you never really know what you're going to expect. We knew we had a fast race car. We knew if the race came to us, we may be in a position to sort of finish top three, top five."
Graham Rahal, who started 29th, finished third for his second consecutive podium, and Tony Kanaan charged from 22nd to finish fourth. Dixon, who started in the middle of the front row and led a field-high 73 laps, faded to fifth, and Oriol Servia, who started on the front row, was sixth.
Franchitti, the 2010 race winner, led 51 laps and was running second on Lap 195. But he had to pit for a splash of fuel on Lap 199 and finished 12th.
Tomas Scheckter advanced 13 positions to finish eighth and Marco Andretti picked up 18 spots to finish ninth. Andretti Autosport teammate Danica Patrick was 10th.
There were 23 lead changes among 10 drivers and seven cautions for 40 laps. Patrick led 10 laps late in the No. 7 Team GoDaddy car, but had to pit with 10 laps left.
RACE DAY NOTEBOOK:
Petri Suvanto of Finland won the 69-lap Cooper Tires presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda race Saturday night at Lucas Oil Raceway. Connor De Phillippi, from San Clemente, Calif., won the 85-lap Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear race Saturday night at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. Both events took place as part of the 66th annual Night Before the 500, and both series are part of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system of INDYCAR.
INDYCAR issued this competition bulletin today for the Indianapolis 500:
Rule 7.5(A) and Bulletin 2011-10
The following is added and shall appear as Rule 7.5(A)(6):
"Indianapolis 500 Mile Race - All of the standard restart procedures shall apply with the following exceptions:
After the starter gives the 'one (1) lap to go,' the Safety Car will pull off at Turn 1.
Cars must line up in double-file format on the back stretch 'nose to tail.'
The leader is required to maintain the pace lap speed until reaching a cone located on driver's right entering Turn 4.
All car(s) must maintain their respective track position for the restart, including without limitation not changing lanes, until the green condition is declared. After the green condition is declared, passing may occur."
Darren Hagen won the USAC Mopar National Midget Championship race Saturday night at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.
Jerry Coons Jr. won the Hoosier Hundred Traxxas USAC Silver Crown race Friday night at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
Car sponsor updates:
•CDW, a leading provider of technology solutions for business, government, education and healthcare, will be a major sponsor of Newman/Haas Racing's No. 2 Telemundo program with Oriol Servia for the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500.
•An IZOD IndyCar Series car will bear the seal of a U.S. Presidential Foundation for the first time during the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500. Dan Wheldon, 2005 Indy 500 winner, will drive the No. 98 William Rast - CURB/Big Machine entry with the Ronald Reagan Centennial Celebration seal on the nose to observe the 100th anniversary of Reagan's birth.
Bill Marvel, a key figure in the motorsports corporate and media industry for more than 50 years, Saturday was honored with the Bob Russo Founders Award for dedication to auto racing.
The award was presented by previous Russo Award recipients Bill York and Michael Knight during the annual American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association breakfast meeting at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, site of Sunday's 100th anniversary Indy 500. Marvel has attended every Indianapolis 500 since 1941.
Russo, the late racing journalist/publicist/historian, founded AARWBA in 1955. He died in 1999 at age 71. The Russo Award is presented for "profound interest, tireless efforts and undying dedication to auto racing as exemplified by Russo throughout his lifelong career."
Marvel, a charter member of AARWBA, was unanimously chosen by other members of the Russo Award committee.
Marvel's numerous roles in racing included serving as general manager at both Pocono International Raceway and Texas World Speedway and in key positions at Trenton Speedway, the Houston Astrodome, Winchester Speedway, and Indiana State Fair. He also acted as a news media liaison at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indy Car team/sponsor PR representative and consultant on the movie "Winning," which starred Paul Newman. Marvel also served as corporate affairs vice president and benevolent foundation executive director for the U.S. Auto Club and performed many roles, including journalist, public address announcer and TV and radio broadcaster.
TIM DALY (Actor): (What brought you back this year?): "Just more of the insanity that is Indy." (Who's your pick for today?): "Oriol Servia."
TITO ORTIZ (Ultimate Fighting Championship mixed-martial artist): "Wow. This multiplies UFC by a hundred. I've been to so many huge events. Even walking off the bus and just seeing the hundreds of thousands of fans is amazing. This place can really pull them in. I feel blessed to be a part of it. I'd like to see Danica Patrick win it, but I think it would be cool to see Helio (Castroneves) pull off his fourth win, without a doubt."
WILLIAM FICHTNER (Actor): "The 100th running? No better place to be, right? I think this is the place to be. This is my fourth time to be here. It is so good to be here."
KATHY IRELAND (Model, TV host): "It is absolutely thrilling to be here at the Indy 500 with our partners at Window World. This is my first time to the Indy 500. It's amazing. I've had the privilege of racing some go-karts with Michael Andretti raising funds for kids to get off drugs, and that was a lot of fun. I've also had the opportunity to race one of Paul Newman's cars many years ago. But nothing like this. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be here and experience this live. Car 43, it's going to win. John Andretti, he's an amazing man, huge heart. That family, they're just legends."
MEKHI PHIFER (Actor): "This is my first time. I'm absolutely looking forward to this. Life is good. I got my credentials. I got my ticket. A got a cigar. So, it's goin' down. I'm really looking forward to it. I got to ride with Mario Andretti yesterday. We went 200 miles an hour around the track a few times. That was very exhilarating. I'm looking forward to it. It's unreal. It breaks the laws of physics. I don't have a favorite driver; I'm just getting into the sport. I guess my man is Dario Franchitti. He's my guy."
MARSHALL FAULK (NFL legend): "It's always fun. I expect to see a good race. I respect the drivers. You think about what they go through and the skill and endurance it takes to win this race; it's awesome. It's going to be monumental for whichever driver wins the 100th anniversary of this race. It's always good to be back and coming back for the 100th anniversary is something special. I give huge thanks to IZOD and everything that they have done. The last time I was here was in 2001 and you can see that's it grown. The way the sponsors are backing this is huge."
FUZZY ZOELLER (Golf legend): "Listen, I totally enjoyed it last year. It took a lot of crappy golf for me to get here. But I'm looking forward to a beautiful day. Thank God we got a great day up here for it." (On sponsoring Ed Carpenter's car last year and Buddy Rice this year): "Yeah, we're very excited about it. Ed, what a great guy. And I know Buddy's a great person. We're looking forward to having a great day."
JERRY RICE (NFL legend): "Oh my gosh, this is so exciting. This is my first time. I'm looking forward to being out here and being a fan. Mario took me around 200 (mph). He wanted to prove that they're athletes -we're going to take this athlete in the car and we're going to take him around the track - doing about 200. So, in the straightaway, I'm OK. So coming to the curve, I'm saying to myself, 'He's going to slow down.' He didn't slow down. Oh my gosh, it was a great experience."
JILLIAN MICHAELS (Television personality, fitness guru): "(Danica) is my girl. She's a total badass. She's incredible. She's a total athlete, a hardcore professional. She is IndyCar."
KIM COATES (Actor): "This my fifth time at the Indianapolis 500, and I'm very happy to be here. Alex Tagliani is a Canadian like me, and I'm cheering for him - it's going to be a great day. He's right on the pole. Wasn't that race for the top nine and the pole phenomenal? I was here in 2005, 2006, 2007, I missed '08 and '09, and was back again in '10. I'm looking forward to the whole day - the hot rod thing and the race."
CHRIS McDONALD (Actor): "It's amazing. I knew this year was going to be spectacular because it's the 100th anniversary. All the stops are being pulled out by the Georges. I've been here three days now and the parties at night. What IZOD has done, it's been a phenomenal party. It's a great day for a race. I'm very excited. These guys are my favorite athletes on the planet. I just feel honored to be here. I got into it (racing) a little bit myself when I did the celebrity race in Long Beach. After having children, it was the biggest thrill of my life."
JAMIE HECTOR (Actor): "It's my first trip. It is spirit-filled, it is energy, it is exciting. Almost 400,000 people, plus I got to ride in the two-seat car at 170 mph. That turned my head upside-down, and know I have a new respect and understanding of this game."
CHRIS HARRISON (TV host, "The Bachelor"): "It has been a great day and great experience. It's my first Indy 500 and it has exceeded all my expectations, and to be here for the first time on the 100th Anniversary is a real treat." (How would you describe the two-seater ride?): "I can't, I can't explain what it feels like. It was life-changing. It transcends everything anyone has ever told me about it, just to think that I was going maybe 200 and those guys will go up to 240 with other guys around then, it's crazy. I have a whole new respect for what they do."
TERESA SCANLAN (Miss America): "This is my very first time in Indianapolis, so I'm very excited to be here. It is part of the new things I get to do as Miss America. It is incredible to see all the experiences I can have, so I am real excited to be here. I don't know what to expect in my first race, but I think it will be great time. It has been about four months since I was crowned in January and it will be through next January that I will be on a national tour and, so I have things coming up every day."
ZACHARY LEVI (Actor): "It's my first time at the Indy 500. I've been to Indianapolis before. My family is actually from Amo, Indiana, which is about 45 minutes southwest of here. And my grandpa used to be a Yellow Jacket here at the race for 25 years, but unfortunately I never got to the race and now it's my first year, 100th anniversary. It's a great year to be here for the first time. I get to be in a Pace Car before the race. I didn't get to do any of the hot laps yesterday in the two-seaters and that really bummed me out, but hopefully I'll get to come back again and get to do that. It's been an amazing experience. I mean, it's something you see on television and now getting to be here in the thick of it with everybody. The energy is intense. I just can't wait. 400,000 people is a heck of a lot of people to put in one place. If I were a bank robber, I would be in Indianapolis right now because all the cops are out here!"
NICKY HAYDEN (2006 MotoGP World Champion, will race in Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 28 at IMS): "It's awesome. Being here wants to make me want to be racing. I'm looking forward to coming back here later this summer. But this is a great event. IMS, you know, I've been all over the world, seen a lot of racing. But they set the level, as far as I can tell."
KELLIE PICKLER (Country music singer): "This is so much fun. It's so amazing to be a part of the 100th anniversary. It's great. I grew up an hour from the speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina, and any type of racing is a religion in the South. It's just great. This isn't about me, though; it's about the drivers. What they do is awesome. I'm pulling for the ladies because us girls have to stick together."
SEAL (Singer, national anthem performer today): "I haven't been here before, unfortunately, but judging by the atmosphere, I've been missing out. It's one of the most important races in the world, and I feel really proud to be here today especially as David (Foster) said to sing the national anthem with Kelly Clarkson. I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be at this moment."
DAVID FOSTER (Composer, national anthem performer today): "The piano is tricky to get it in and out, but you know there's a race today, so the piano is not the most important thing. Seal and I have worked together for years, and I wanted to come up with an unusual combination for Seal and Kelly. The anthem is a duet for the first time ever. I've never seen it done as a duet before. We've got an Englishman (Seal), a Canadian (Foster) and an American (Clarkson), so we represent the world."
OMAR MILLER (Actor): "I can't wait. This place is great. I like when they fire the cars up. I like to hear, 'Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.' I'm a muscle car guy, and the noise that these cars make is just profound. I'm fired up. I get to ride in a Pace Car."
CARLOS DIAZ (Television personality): "I don't know why I'm on this red carpet, but you know I'll talk to people. It's good to be back here. It's great to be back in Indianapolis and just being with everyone, and the cool thing is to see celebrities in awe of Indianapolis. It makes me proud to be from Indy. I'm on HLN with Robin Meade. I just started about a month ago, and it's been a really great experience. 'Extra' was great for eight years, but I don't want to be 50 years old talking about what kind of underwear Britney Spears is wearing. So to make the transition into news is a cool thing."
Yellow Driver, who was revealed as rally and stunt driver Tanner Foust, set a world record distance jump today of 332 feet in the Hot Wheels Fearless at the 500 stunt located on the infield between Turns 3 and 4. The previous record was 302 feet.
TANNER FOUST: "We just crushed the world record!"
Honorary starter Retired Col. Bruce P. Crandall, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, talked about his Race Day experience this morning.
BRUCE P. CRANDALL: "I certainly am honored to be starting this race. Anybody would be. It's my second time here. I was able to be here in 2007. I love the great atmosphere, the buzz, here at the Speedway, except for one thing: I want to be driving that 34th car, but I want to be at the back, so I won't cause any problems. One lap would be OK." (About receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor): "The Medal of Honor is something you don't ever expect. It just happens because someone took the time and someone saw it among the survivors. You don't ever go out looking for the medal. We don't win anything; we receive it. Everyone who has the medal prefers being called a recipient, not a winner. Once you receive it, you have to live up to it."
WINNER'S QUICK QUOTE:
DAN WHELDON: "I was just trying to go as hard as I could. I knew it was the last lap, and I knew some of those guys were struggling with fuel. I want to thank my wife. For Bryan Herta and everyone at Bryan Herta Autosport, such a dream ride. It's been absolutely phenomenal. I love Indianapolis. I love the people, I love everything about it. The tradition, the history. I just felt a lot of relief. It's an incredible feeling. I've been runner-up two years before this, but I never gave up." (About his mother, who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease): "I want to say hi to my family back home, my mother. The Alzheimer's Association, the chance to represent them." (About his victory plans): "I'm taking my kids to Disney, taking my kids to Disney. It's just an incredible day."
RUNNER-UP, THIRD PLACE QUICK QUOTES:
JR HILDEBRAND: "Well, I knew we were running a little tight on fuel coming to the end, and I had spotters in my ears saying, 'Guys are coming, and they're coming hard because we were having to conserve a little bit of fuel,' and the tires are at the end of their stint. I was just hanging on to get the thing around. I made a last minute judgment call on the 83 car (Kimball). He was out of the pits, and I thought, 'You know what, I don't think I want slow down for him around the wrong part of the track. I would have to slow down a lot to stay behind him, then pull out a lot to pass on the straightaway so I thought, 'Well, I've been able to make this move around the outside before,' and so I went to the high side and just got caught up in the marbles, and that was it." (Were you aware that you might still be the leader, since you can't pass under caution?): "I was not aware of that, but honestly, that aside, I owe this run entirely to the Panther Racing team and the National Guard team. These guys have done an awesome job year after year after year. We've been the bridesmaid, and I didn't come to Indianapolis this year expecting to be in a position to win the Indy 500. But we were, and I guess that's why it's a little bit frustrating right now. But here on Memorial Day, I'd just like to say thanks to all service men and women that are here. We put up a heck of a fight for you out there."
GRAHAM RAHAL: "It feels good, that's for sure. I mean, this is what it's all about, you know? We needed to ride the momentum, and we did. And this is obviously a lot better than second place in Brazil, and we'll just keep going on from here. But I'm so proud of the Service Central boys, because starting where we started and to end up here, we passed 26 cars, and that's fantastic."
POST-RACE OWNERS' QUICK QUOTES:
JOHN BARNES (Co-owner, Panther Racing): "We came here with a rookie driver, and everybody says we're going to have trouble and everything. But I can tell you that he (JR) did a great job. He drove to a fuel number I didn't think was going to be attainable. We're so proud of him and the people at Panther and the crew."
INDIANAPOLIS 500 HISTORICAL NOTES:
•Dan Wheldon is the 18th multiple winner of the Indianapolis 500. His other win came in 2005.
•Dan Wheldon led only one lap, Lap 200. That's the fewest number of laps led by an Indianapolis 500 winner. The previous record was two, set by Joe Dawson in 1912.
•Dan Wheldon is the first multiple winner from England.
•This is the second time that a driver lost the lead of the Indianapolis 500 on the last lap. Rookies were victims both times, Marco Andretti in 2006 and JR Hildebrand in 2011.
•Dan Wheldon is the fifth driver to win the race starting from the sixth starting position. The others: Gaston Chevrolet (1920), Ray Keech (1929), Louis Meyer (1933), and Rodger Ward (1959).
•This is the third time that car number 98 has won the Indianapolis 500. The other two years were 1952 with Troy Ruttman and 1963 with Parnelli Jones.
•This is the fourth consecutive year that Panther Racing has finished runner-up in the Indianapolis 500. Vitor Meira was second in 2008, Dan Wheldon in 2009 and 2010.
•In the last three years (2009-11), Dan Wheldon recorded two second-place finishes and a victory in the Indianapolis 500 yet has led only one lap during that span.
•Will Power was the highest-finishing driver for Team Penske, in 14th. The last time Penske competed at Indianapolis and had all of its cars finish outside of the top 10 was 1992, when Paul Tracy led Penske with a 20th-place finish.
•There were 25 cars running at the finish today, the second-highest total for an Indianapolis 500 that went the full distance. The record is 26 in the inaugural event in 1911, which had 40 starters.
•The winning average speed of 170.265 mph for the 2011 Indianapolis 500 is the fourth-fastest in the 100 year history of the race. The record is 185.981 mph by Arie Luyendyk in 1990.
•There were 23 lead changes, which ties for the fifth-highest total in Indianapolis 500 history. The record for most lead changes is 29 in 1960.
•The 2011 Indianapolis 500 had 10 different lap leaders, which is the second-highest total in race history. The 1980, 1995 and 1998 fields also had 10 different lap leaders. The greatest number of different lap leaders for a race is 12 in 1993.
•The top lap leader of the 2011 Indianapolis 500 was Scott Dixon with 73 laps led. Dixon was also the top lap leader in 2008 (115 laps led) and 2009 (73 laps led).
•A Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver had led the most laps of the race for the last four consecutive years:
2008: Scott Dixon, 115 laps, won.
2009: Dixon, 73 laps, finished sixth.
2010: Dario Franchitti, 155 laps, won.
2011: Dixon, 73 laps, fifth.
•Dario Franchitti ranks 15th on the all-time Indianapolis 500 lap leader list with 306 laps led.
•Scott Dixon ranks 19th on the all-time Indianapolis 500 lap leader list with 293 laps led.
•The 2011 Indianapolis 500 set the record for the greatest number of lap leaders (nine) to finish on the lead lap. The previous record was eight in 1993 and in 2004 (180 laps were run due to rain).
•Of the 10 lap leaders, nine were running at the finish. The greatest number of lap leaders to be running at the finish is 11 in 1993.
•The greatest position advancement in the 2011 Indianapolis 500 was by Graham Rahal, who started 29th and finished third, a gain of 26 positions.
Sam Schmidt, owner of the pole-winning car of Alex Tagliani and the car of Townsend Bell, talked about his team's Month of May. Schmidt's team also had a technical relationship with the race-winning Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb/Agajanian team.
SAM SCHMIDT (Owner, Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "They dug all month. The 77 (Tagliani) and 99 (Bell) worked really well together and had fast cars. Unfortunately, they both got a little out of sequence. We probably should've finished at least second or third when all was said and done. You can't second-guess what happens in the race, and that is what this place is all about. At least we got a little piece of that car rolling up on victory circle right there. It was Bryan's (Herta), and that's cool."