A thrilling race in front of over 300,000 spectators saw Scott Dixon get the job done after leading 115 of the 200 laps.
Scott Dixon capped a nearly perfect month at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the biggest win of his career – the 92nd Indianapolis 500.
Early in May, Dixon recorded the fastest practice lap. On Pole Day, he posted the best four-lap qualifying average, and on Race Day, he led 115 of 200 laps, including the final 29, to take the victory.
“What a day, man,” said Dixon, who took over the IndyCar Series points lead. “I just couldn’t believe it. You just thought something was going to go wrong. I’ve got to thank my wife, for sure. She’s put up with my moods. What a day. We seemed to have a good car. We just had to hold on to it and stay ahead of those guys on restarts. You’re just a sitting duck. There were so many yellows. It was so hard to get into a rhythm.
“I was trying to save fuel, and I was trying to see how the car was in traffic. We were trying to work on it the whole time. I think we had a little too much drag in it. But coming toward the end, as long as we got a good jump on those guys, I don’t think anyone was going to get past us. The Target guys did a fantastic job.”
Dixon’s main competition early in the race was his Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dan Wheldon. Wheldon, the 2005 Indianapolis 500 winner whose started in the middle of the front row, passed Dixon for the lead three times. Together, the Ganassi cars led 145 laps.
After Wheldon’s car started handling poorly in the middle of the race, Dixon’s stiffest competition came from Marco Andretti and Vitor Meira.
Andretti, who finished second as a rookie in 2006, led twice for 15 laps, and Meira took the lead on Lap 160 following a restart when he sliced between Dixon and Ed Carpenter heading into Turn 1. Meira led 11 laps before Dixon regained the lead for good on Lap 172. Meira finished second, tying his 2005 Indianapolis 500 finish, while Andretti finished third. Helio Castroneves, a two-time winner of the race, was fourth, and Carpenter was fifth. There were six crashes during the race involving seven drivers. None were injured.
INDIANAPOLIS 500 POST-RACE NOTES:
Scott Dixon wins the Indianapolis 500 for the first time in his sixth start. This is Dixon’s 12th career victory in the IndyCar Series and his second this season. He also won at Homestead-Miami Speedway. This is the third Indianapolis 500 victory for Chip Ganassi. He is tied with Mike Boyle, Leader Card (Bob Wilkie) and Pat Patrick for the third-most ‘500’ wins in history. Roger Penske has 14, and Lou Moore has five. Ganassi won in 2000 with Juan Pablo Montoya and was co-owner with Pat Patrick of the 1989 winner driven by Emerson Fittipaldi. This is the fourth time car #9 has won the Indianapolis 500. The last time was 2000 with Chip Ganassi driver Juan Pablo Montoya.
Dixon is the first native of New Zealand to win the Indianapolis 500.
Dixon led 115 laps, the most laps led by a race winner since Juan Pablo Montoya led 167 laps in 2000. Dan Wheldon led 148 laps in 2006 but finished fourth.
Vitor Meira finished second in the ‘500’ for the second time in his career. He also finished second in 2005. Meira has five top-10 finishes in six Indy starts.
Marco Andretti finished third, his second top-three finish in three starts. He finished second as a rookie in 2006. Helio Castroneves finished fourth, his seventh top-10 finish in eight starts.
Ed Carpenter finished fifth, his best finish in the Indianapolis 500 and his third career fifth-place finish. Carpenter’s best ‘500’ finish was 11th in 2005 and 2006. Carpenter has fifth-place finishes at Homestead-Miami earlier this season and at Chicagoland in 2006.
Ryan Hunter-Reay finished sixth, tying his career-best finish recorded at Michigan last year. He is highest-finishing rookie.
Hideki Mutoh, the American Dairy Association Fastest Rookie, finished seventh, his third top-10 finish of the season.
2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice finished eighth. It’s his only top-10 finish other than his victory. Rice also has finished 11th in 2003 and 25th in 2006 and 2007.
Darren Manning finished ninth, his best Indianapolis 500 finish in four starts. His previous best finish was 20th last year.
Townsend Bell finished 10th in his second start in the Indianapolis 500. He finished 22nd in 2006. 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier improved 15 positions during the race, the most of any driver. He finished 17th after starting 32nd.
Dixon won from the pole position. This is the 19th time the winning car has started from the pole position.
Dixon takes over the IndyCar Series points lead from Castroneves. Dixon also led the standings following his season-opening victory at Homestead-Miami. Castroneves had been the leader since winning at St. Petersburg, the second race of the season. Fifteen cars finished on the lead lap. The record for most cars finishing on the lead lap is 16 in 1959. The 1931 and 1962 Indianapolis 500 races also had 15 cars finish on the lead lap.
Nine drivers led laps during the race. The Indy 500 record is 12 lap leaders in 1993. The 1980, 1995 and 1998 races had 10 lap leaders. The 1981, 2002, 2004 and 2007 races also had nine lap leaders.
Marco Andretti recorded the fastest lap of the race (224.037 mph) on Lap 161. His father, Michael (1992), and his grandfather, Mario (1978), also recorded the fastest lap of an Indianapolis 500 race. Dixon, was the top lap leader with 115 laps led. His teammate, Dan Wheldon, led the second most laps in the race with 30 laps.
Buddy Lazier completed 195 laps. It raised his Indianapolis 500 career total to 6,665 miles completed, which moves him past Michael Andretti for eighth on the all-time mileage leader list.
Helio Castroneves finished on the lead lap for the seventh time in his eight career starts in the Indianapolis 500. The only year he did not finish on the lead lap was in 2006 due to an accident. Two drivers led the 2008 Indianapolis 500 for the first time. Mario Moraes and Ed Carpenter each led three laps.
The 30 laps led by Dan Wheldon raised his Indianapolis 500 career total to 234 laps, the most among active drivers. Tony Kanaan led his record seventh consecutive Indianapolis 500. He led 12 laps, raising his career total to 214 laps led.
1. Scott Dixon Ganassi 200 laps 2. Vitor Meira Panther + 1.7498 3. Marco Andretti Andretti Green + 2.3127 4. Helio Castroneves Penske + 6.2619 5. Ed Carpenter Vision + 6.5505 6. Ryan Hunter-Reay Rahal Letterman + 6.9894 7. Hideki Mutoh Andretti Green + 7.8768 8. Buddy Rice Dreyer & Reinbold + 8.8798 9. Darren Manning Foyt + 9.201910. Townsend Bell Dreyer & Reinbold + 9.456711. Oriol Servia KV + 22.496612. Dan Wheldon Ganassi + 30.709013. Will Power KV + 31.666614. Davey Hamilton Vision + 32.008415. Enrique Bernoldi Conquest + 32.107516. John Andretti Roth + 1 lap17. Buddy Lazier Hemelgarn + 5 laps18. Mario Moraes Dale Coyne + 6 laps19. Milka Duno Dreyer & Reinbold + 15 laps20. Bruno Junqueira Dale Coyne + 16 laps21. AJ Foyt IV Vision + 20 laps22. Danica Patrick Andretti Green + 29 laps23. Ryan Briscoe Penske + 29 laps24. Tomas Scheckter Luczo Dragon + 44 laps25. Alex Lloyd Rahal Letterman/Ganassi + 49 laps26. EJ Viso HVM + 61 laps27. Justin Wilson Newman/Haas/Lanigan + 68 laps28. Jeff Simmons Foyt + 88 laps29. Tony Kanaan Andretti Green + 95 laps30. Sarah Fisher Sarah Fisher + 97 laps31. Jaime Camara Conquest +121 laps32. Marty Roth Roth +141 laps33. Graham Rahal Newman/Haas/Lanigan +164 laps