While the Speedville crew was enjoying all the racing on Memorial Day weekend from the couch, the weekend prior we were getting drenched in Indianapolis trying to watch qualifying for the 500. Over the past several years we have made the trek to Indy for Bump Day and then, when the schedule was shortened, for Pole Day. Camping out at Lot 2 with the famed Pagoda in the background has always been a treat – especially when there were enough cars to have a Bump Day weekend. These weekends were a dog fight for position at the back of the field from teams that were usually trying to make the race on a shoestring. It was exciting to watch if you knew what was going on, but to the casual fan it wasn’t anything impressive compared to watching cars run for the pole.
In practice, not one but three Chevys flipped over during crashes leading many to suspect that the new aero-kits were to blame. Specifically it was the Chevy kit that was under scrutiny. All of the drama leading up to Indy was in practice not qualifying when most of the first day was cancelled due to torrential rain. It rained sideways for nearly the entire day and finally cleared up by the end of day when it was too late to dry the track in time.
For spectators who paid to get in, they were given a free pass to Sunday’s qualifying session, which also turned out to have dramatic off-track consequences when Ed Carpenter crashed and flipped his Chevy after he made contact with the turn 2 wall. That left three Chevys (Castroneves, Newgarden and Carpenter) upside down and with no answer why. IndyCar officials had to make some hard decisions quickly or the weekend would be lost. Driver and fan safety was paramount in the decision to go with a return to race trim for qualifying. This meant a reduction in turbo boost pressure from 20.3 psi back down to 18.8 psi and higher downforce levels on the aero-kits. Dixon took the pole effortlessly it seemed with an early run that stood up for the whole day.
We got news. Practice 1:30-2:30. Qualifying starts at 3:15. 1 shot, no fast 9. Not ideal but better than qualifying by Rock Paper Scissors! — James Hinchcliffe (@Hinchtown) May 17, 2015
Juan Pablo Montoya won the 99th running of the Indy 500 and held off reigning series champion and teammate Will Power by 0.1046 of a second – the fourth-closest finish in race history. The final 15 laps of the race couldn’t have been scripted better and had fans on the edge of their seats. The victory was Montoya’s second 500 win, as the Colombian won his first start at the 2.5-mile oval in 2000.
— Verizon Wireless (@VZWnews) May 24, 2015
Five of the race’s 37 lead changes occurred in the last 15 laps following a restart, when Montoya overtook Dixon in Turn 1 for second place, and then Power in Turn 4 to capture the lead on Lap 197. He held the lead for the remainder of the 200-lap event.
“It was awesome,” Montoya said. “This is what racing in INDYCAR is all about, racing down to the wire. These guys, Team Penske, did an amazing job. I had the feeling that I had a really good car, but that fight at the end was really, really hard. All the way down to the wire. This is pretty awesome.”
The victory extended team owner Roger Penske’s record of Indy 500 victories to 16. The 15-year gap between Indy 500 wins for Montoya is the longest stretch for a driver.