500 notebook May 30


It was one of the more beautiful days and starts in recent memory.

A clean start, no rain, nice breeze and plenty of sun (81 degrees at race time with a track temperature of 110 degrees), practically everything a race fan could want.

A nice day overall for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

But it was a bad day for Buddy Lazier.

Any hopes of a 20th anniversary race win ended before it even started for the former Jonathan Byrd’s Racing driver and the 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner.

Lazier, at 48 the oldest driver in the field, didn’t even take the green flag at start due to throttle issues. Only after falling several laps behind was he able to get the problem fixed.

Despite his problems, Lazier did manage to complete 100 laps before falling out with a lost left front tire.

Great diversity

Speaking of Lazier, his first race was in 1991. Six other drivers, Sage Karam, Matt Brabham, Spencer Pigot, Gabby Chaves, Carlos Munoz and race winner Alexander Rossi weren’t even born yet.

Moreover, not counting the United States, drivers from 10 different countries started the race.

Drivers hailed Australia, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, England, France, Japan, New Zealand, Russia and Spain.

No repeat

Defending 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya’s bid for a repeat ended when he slid, spun and hit the wall exiting Turn 2.

Montoya, who also was looking for his third race win, was not injured but finished last.

By doing so, he became only the third driver to win the race one year and finish last the next. Jimmy Bryan did it first, winning in 1958 and getting 33rd and last in 1959. And Johnny Rutherford did it, winning the rain-shortened race in 1976 and then finishing last in 1977.

Conversely, Mario Andretti is the only driver to finish last and then win the race the next year. Andretti was last in 1968 but famously won in 1969.

Karam out

Karam, who drives for Dreyer & Reinbold-Kingdom Racing, had a potentially great day end on the Turn 1 wall.

Karam, the youngest driver in the field at 24, had charged from 23rd to sixth place when his Gas Monkey Energy Chevrolet slammed the wall on Lap 93, ending an extremely promising run.

Karam was not injured in the crash and finished 32nd.

“I’m more bummed than hurt,” Karam said. “It was kind of a racing thing.”

American winner

Rossi, who’s from California, became only the fourth American to win the Indy 500 since 2000 and the first since Ryan Hunter-Reay won two years ago.

The only other Americans to win in that span was Buddy Rice in 2004 and Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006.

Media horde

More than 1,700 media credentials were issued for Sunday’s race, according to media center manager Tim Sullivan.

A former Franklin resident, Sullivan said the figure was the highest of his 13-year career running the Speedway’s media center.

Author photo
Ken Severson is a sports correspondent for the Daily Journal.