• Indianapolis 500

Hunter-Reay wins maiden Indy 500

ESPN Staff
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Ryan Hunter-Reay overcame Helio Castroneves during a frantic finish to win his first Indy 500 by just 0.060s, the second closest finish in the history of the prestigious race.

Andretti Autosport's Hunter-Reay overcame a late red flag with ten laps to go, which fell when he was leading the race, staying in contention with Castroneves until his pass at the start of the final lap to become the first American to win the event since Sam Hornish in 2006. The lead swapped between the pair over the final six laps as Castroneves went for a record-equalling fourth Indy 500 crown.

But Hunter-Reay stalked Castroneves throughout and timed his move perfectly, surging in front while entering the final lap and then narrowly winning a drag race with the Brazilian across the famous yard of bricks at the finish line. It was the first time the race had finished under green flags in five years and credit must go to the stewards for throwing out the red flags rather than yellows after Townsend Bell's shunt with ten laps left, which ensured a race to the finish.

After methodically working his way through the field after starting from the seventh row, Hunter-Reay found himself in contention as the race went a record 149 laps without a yellow flag. He was helped in part by the coming together between between pole-sitter Ed Cartpenter, James Hinchcliffe and Bell at the restart on Lap 176, which eliminated a furious Carpenter from the running when he looked well-placed to challenge for the victory.

Bell was the only driver of the trio to survive the incident but his race did not last much longer, with his trip into the barriers bringing out the red flag rather than the yellow, giving the drivers an agonising 30 minute wait in the pit lane but set up a thrilling finish.

Marco Andretti, attempting to become the first member of his family to reach Victory Lane since his father Mario in 1969, finished third. Andretti had taken the lead from team-mate Hunter-Reay on Lap 139 but Charlie Kimball's crash, which brought out the first caution of the race, ultimately saw him lose out at the pit stops and he spent the rest of the race watching the battles for the lead in front of him. The first half of the race was largely uneventful, shattering the previous record of 66 laps without a caution. After Kimball's early crash, 2008 winner Scott Dixon spun into the wall to end his chances of a second 500 victory.

Carlos Munoz pipped Juan Pablo Montoya to the line in fourth 1.3s, with the former Williams driver receiving a penalty for speeding in the pit lane on Lap 131 which possibly cost him the chance of a memorable win. Former NASCAR champion Kurt Busch beat former Toro Rosso driver Sebastian Bourdais to sixth by four tenths of a second, while Jacques Villeneuve, competing in the event for the first time since winning the event in 1995, came home 14th. Takuma Sato faded late on after being in the top five at the restart, coming home a lowly 19th.

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