Indy 500: Winners, Losers, and Some In-Betweeners

Posted by Puretone Audio | 5/31/2010 | , , , | 2 comments »
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It all started with 33 cars polished and fueled, gleaming on a grid with the highest of hopes in the air along with with news helicopters, high-wire cameras and balloons. When it ended four hours later, some of the cars were still gleaming, while others had to be pulled from the back of a tow hook.

The 2010 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race was high in spectacle and finished with a dramatic Hollywood flourish. Yet, it was still unmistakably the Indy 500.

As long as the buildup to Indy, the reality is the teams still have to pack up the haulers and head to Texas Wednesday. In between, there is the analysis of what went right and what went wrong.

Here is our own synopsis of the 33 car field by finishing position after sorting through the maelstrom of 500 miles in four hours.

1. Dario Franchitti - First turn outside pass for lead proved to be the key; running out front and stretching a lead made every other team react to what he was doing. Driver + crew both ran a perfect race. Did he have enough fuel to finish? We'll never know for sure. Chip Ganassi said yes, others said no. Best all-around driver in the IRL right now? Probably. His only hiccups during the race were a few run-ins with Graham Rahal and swigging from the milk bottle at the end. Dario v.2010 was older, wiser and at the top of his game.
2. Dan Wheldon - Panther knows Indy, Wheldon drove a strong race although he never led, he stayed out of trouble in some high traffic areas and was in position to win if Dario ran out. Fast enough to stay in the front pack. Moved up +2 in the season points standings to ninth with Texas, another strong Wheldon/Panther track, coming up next week. "I was hungry to win, but the team were getting on my butt about saving fuel those last three laps. Maybe if I was young like Rahal and Marco Andretti, myself back in the day, I would have totally ignored them, tried to run Dario down when I saw him slowing down. I knew it was close. Just one of those things."
3. Marco Andretti - Was charging at the end of the race, another where the heck did he come from suddenly from pack to podium, and very happy the race finished under yellow. "If I would have raced Dan, we weren't finishing the race. Like I said, it was very easy to ends up where Tony did."
4. Alex Lloyd - In my eyes, really the story of the race. Started 26th and finished fourth giving his career a big boost. "About 20 laps to go, maybe 15, when we started making some moves, we were coming through pretty quickly, I tell you, I started shouting in my helmet a little bit, C'mon. I was getting excited. I was really pumped up, ready to go. Not the best thing to do when you're trying to save fuel. The guys don't want that. I felt like I figured something out that I could save the fuel, make positions. I was pumped." So was his owner Dale Coyne.
5. Scott Dixon - Even before his pit road incident in which he lost a tire Dixon was seemingly never a threat to win. Lap times were solid, but unspectacular. Did the veteran decide the car wasn't perfect early and shoot for points?
6. Danica Patrick - Her finish seemed to be more a sigh of relief than a sign of a major turnaround. Patience worked, fuel strategy worked and moved up when a few cars in front of her needed more ethanol.
7. Justin Wilson - Solidly in the Top-10 for most of the race and led laps after his teammate Mike Conway pitted for fuel. Led laps 179 to 190 before a splash and go.
8. Will Power - Probably the Penske driver who looked best in the race conditions. Led five laps. A stop-and-go penalty after a pit stop refuelling incident derailed his run to the front, which was compounded when he missed his pit box later. Maintained his IZOD IndyCar Series points lead.
9. Helio Castroneves - Despite entering the race as the consensus favorite after a dominant pole position, Helio never led a lap in the race. Stalled the car on a late pit stop.
10. Alex Tagliani - The surprise of the qualifying session. Looked to have been caught out on the setup and hot track conditions, as he started fourth and went backwards from there. Still a very successful month and finish from an upstart team and driver.
11. Tony Kanaan - The de facto hard charger of the race. Passed eight cars on the first lap and worked up as high as second before a splash-and-go. Despite starting dead last, salvaged a solid finish out of a difficult month.
12. Graham Rahal - Certainly didn't make any friends with other drivers or race officials and was black flagged for blocking. Was in the middle of the action all day and still posted a solid finish.
13. Mario Romancini - Highest finishing rookie. Showed patience and aggressiveness in equal measure and probably a great boost for his own self-confidence. "The momentum was just taking me throughout the race. I didn't feel that I ran 500 miles. It was quite easy at this point."
14. Simona De Silvestro - The new darling of the female driving contingent. Rookie didn't put a wheel wrong for the whole month, and was spectacular at times in her second career oval race. Another confidence-boosting finish for driver and team.
15. Tomas Scheckter - In the thick of the action from start to finish. Led five laps. Probably off Davey Hamilton's Xmas card list though.
16. Townsend Bell - Ran in the Top-10 for much of the race, but a blocking penalty derailed his one-off Indy 500 effort.
17. Ed Carpenter - Showed speed and consistency, spent time in the Top-5 and deserving of a better finish. Wheldon wants him as a full-time teammate, we'll have to see if Panther puts him back in a car again.
18. Ryan Hunter-Reay - Made the highlight reel after running out of gas and getting vaulted by Mike Conway. Ran in the Top-10 for much of the afternoon, and is still Top-5 in points while meshing well with his Andretti Autosport teammates. Will IZOD really let their poster boy get the hook after Texas? Nobody seems to be saying anything about his status for the rest of the year, which probably isn't a good sign.
19. Mike Conway - Really opened eyes during the race with his driving and led 15 laps, unfortunately it's his spectacular crash at the end that most will remember. Probably out of the season with compound fracture in his left leg, and as bad as that sounds, he's still probably the luckiest driver in the field because he's still alive. The crash was probably the worst in an IndyCar race since Ryan Briscoe's airborne accident in Chicago 2005.
20. Takuma Sato - Struggled and finished two laps down, but still finished with the car in one piece, so the day's driving on the oval will go a long way in building experience. It will be interesting to see what he does in Texas, another track that can bite down hard on impatient drivers.
21. Ana Beatriz - Never really punched through the into Top-20 but drove well and brought the car home in one piece. Consistent through the month and probably merits a full-time ride.
22. Bertrand Baguette - Lost a mirror and spent considerable time in the pits, but brought the car home and had a good experience in his second oval race.
23. Sebastian Saavedra - Didn't make friends with the turn one wall during the month, ending two runs there. Indy can turn one week's fortune into misfortune in a hurry. At 19, he still has plenty of room to grow as a driver, but may have tried the 500 a year too early.
24. Ryan Briscoe - Never seemed to get on track during the month, and was consistently third amongst the Penske drivers, but still managed to lead five laps before ending the race in the wall.
25. E.J. Viso - Out of the race on lap 140 with suspension damage from kissing the wall. Also probably missed on the setup, as the car seemed like a handful.
26. Sarah Fisher - Was a few laps down before retiring with a broken suspension. All the credit in the world for trying but is her team trying to do too much with too little?
27. Vitor Meira - Disappointing end in the wall. Spent some time in the Top-20 early in the race after charging forward with Kanaan, but A.J. Foyt Racing never seemingly came to terms with their cars during the month.
28. Hideki Mutoh - Eye-opening speed during the qualifying sessions, but fell straight back once the race started and pulled out after 72 laps.
29. Raphael Matos - Impressive speed during the race, ran as high as third, but ended up in the wall hard. At some point he's going to have to start posting consistent finishes even with DeFerran in his corner.
30. John Andretti - Never was a factor, race in ended in wall. More ride buyer than Andretti these days, as much as that hurts to say. Will this be his last 500?
31. Mario Moraes - At some point he's going to have to stop crashing. Extremely fast when he's in the car, but suspension damage from a wall brush ended the day very early.
32. Bruno Junqueira - Big hit in turn two wall was second caution of the day. FAZZT team will have to find a way to balance qualifying speed with race setup, but they weren't the only team caught by the 96 degree temperature.
33. Davey Hamilton - First caution of the day as he ran out of real estate in turn two before he looped and ended up in the inside Safer barrier. Called Tomas Scheckter an idiot on national broadcast. Will his car be back together for Texas?


  1. btzucker // May 31, 2010 11:10 AM  

    I'm gonna have to disagree with your analysis of John Andretti. He was as good as any of his teammates during the month. I think he had a run-in with another car that affected his steering. Something busted. Just last race he had a top 10. Ride-buyer seems a bit harsh.

  2. Christopher Leone // June 01, 2010 8:58 AM  

    Just a quick stat correction - Castroneves led three laps in the race, 189 through 191, and Wilson pitted after lap 188. Agree with most of what you've said.