Starting 24th, Munoz was 19th by the end of the first lap and appeared to be charging to the front in the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet. However, 10 laps into his run, he started to fade. It was a scenario that would repeat itself throughout the race.
The team made the changes they could on the pit stops—adjusting tire pressures, front wings and rear wings—all of which seemed to help for a little while. By mid-fuel stint however, the gains he made early on did not last. That said, the 25-year-old avoided the carnage that characterized the race and brought the car home in 10th.
“A really tough race, it was a really long race for me if I’m honest,” Munz said. “I just hung in with the car. We had no sign of this happening because on Friday [final practice] we did long runs and it was pretty good. Today we just lost the car completely. At the start of the race it was pretty good because I was heading to the front and on each restart it was good but it seemed that after 10 laps, we just dropped like a stone. We don’t know why. We still finished 10th–I think it is the best result for the team in the 500 in a long time even though we struggled a lot. We just have to figure out what was going on.”
Conor Daly, who started 26th in the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet, had a race car that could take him to the front. He began passing cars and was up to 17th, having just run the fastest lap of the race, when he suffered his mishap on lap 65.
As Daly explains, “There was a big stack-up in Turn 2 and then we were about 5-wide going into the back straight. For some reason, the 83 car in front of me got on the brakes a little bit. I had to pop to the outside where I had two cars on either side of me.
“As soon as I got into the corner, the car just got a little bit loose,” he continued. “We had just adjusted downforce on the car in the stop before and that was the first time we were in clean air. It pinned the nose a little bit. I caught it once, but I couldn’t catch it three times. It was a shame, shouldn’t have done that. It just sucks. I don’t really think I ever made contact with anyone. It was just very unexpected for them to jump on the brakes and they went into the corner. It’s just a shame that we had to lose it like that because the car was quite nice. It was fun up until them. But I am okay.”
After getting loose, Daly’s car shot up into the wall, sustaining heavy damage. He completed 65 laps and was credited with 30th place.
Zach Veach had an even longer day in his office. Driving the No. 40 Indy Women in Tech Chevrolet, Veach had alternator problems in the race. He pitted twice for replacement batteries and by the time his third battery went, he lost power on the track and had to be towed in.
“Today was very up and down,” Veach said afterwards. “We had a great first stint, picked up a few positions, running in 26th or so. Then I made a rookie mistake getting into my box, locking up my tires. Because of that we lost three laps. I think we got a couple of those laps back. We were working our way through the field, trying to get back to where we needed to be. Then I had a battery die in the car, which I got lucky and coasted back to pit lane. They replaced the battery and sent me back out. Second battery died, but we got lucky to come back and fix it before we got stuck on track. Finally, our race ended 150 laps in or somewhere around there because the third battery died and we just couldn’t make it back to pit lane this time.
“Extremely heartbroken for my team, so much effort went into this,” the 22-year-old Ohioan said. “I’m just proud to showcase the Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim over the past couple of weeks and throughout the race. As far as the rookie learning experience, there’s nothing quite like this. We just have to be happy about the positives and improve on the negatives and focus on when I can get back in an Indy car.”
Veach placed 26th, completing 155 laps.
The day belonged to Takuma Sato who claimed his first Indy 500 victory after a thrilling battle with Helio Castroneves, who finished second. Sato led only 17 laps of the race but he led the final five despite Castroneves’ spirited battle to steal it from him.
Sato ran in the front most of the day in his Honda-powered car but he led only other time – laps 65 to 76. He is the first Japanese driver to win the historic event. Third through fifth were rookie Ed Jones, Max Chilton and Tony Kanaan.
Tragedy was avoided when Scott Dixon climbed out his Chip Ganassi mangled race car on lap. Jay Howard had spun in between Turns 1 and 2 then slid down the track right in front of Dixon, who had no place to go. His car became airborne and flipped onto the inside SAFER barrier before coming to a rest. Buddy Lazier also made a trip to the infield care center after he backed it into the wall in Turn 2. Complaining of chest pains, he was taken to Methodist Hospital was but was later released.
The race was slowed by 11 cautions and the 15 different leaders swapped being on point 36 times.
The day started off with a parade around the track of the historic cars that A.J. Foyt drove in his legendary career. Foyt led the parade along with Tony George in the 1977 Oldsmobile pace car –the same car he circled the track 40 years ago with George’s grandfather Tony Hulman. Tony Stewart drove the car Foyt won Indy with in 1961, Johnny Rutherford drove his 1964 winner, A.J. Foyt IV drove his 1967 winner, Al Unser, Jr. drove his 1977 Indy winner, Leonard Wood was in the 1972 Daytona 500 winner, Donnie Allison in the Copenhagen Olds Foyt drove in 1988, Davey Hamilton drove the dirt champ car recently purchased by Stewart, Billy Boat was in the Lotus sports car and Donnie Beechler drove the Nowicke sprint car. It was the first time non-Indy 500 race cars were allowed on the track on Race Day. The cars are on display in the IMS Museum through October as part of the A.J. Foyt Exhibit.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!