INDYCAR PRESS RELEASE
INDIANAPOLIS (May 24, 2015) – Juan Pablo Montoya won the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race and held off reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion and teammate Will Power by 0.1046 of a second – the fourth-closest finish in race history – in a thrilling final 15 laps of the historic race. The victory was Montoya’s second Indianapolis 500 win, as the Colombian won “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” in his first start at the 2.5-mile oval in 2000.
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.
“You give that guy the bit and put it in his mouth, and he doesn’t give up,” said Penske, the race strategist for three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves. “It’s a great day for Team Penske. I knew we had two up there, but the worry was Dixon and the 83 (Charlie Kimball). At the end of the day, they played fair. Good passing and we won the race.”
Montoya finished fifth last May in his return to the Indy 500 after a 14-year absence in which he won races in Formula One and NASCAR competition, and he is the first multiple winner in six Verizon IndyCar Series races this season. He won the opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., and extended his points lead over Power to 25 heading into the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit Presented by Quicken Loans doubleheader May 30-31.
Montoya, who started 15th in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, fell to 30th early in the race after being hit from behind while the race was under caution, necessitating a pit stop to change the rear wing assembly. He then overshot his pit box on a Lap 95 stop, which cost precious seconds. Montoya worked his way up to third by Lap 102 and remained in the top five to challenge for the win.
Power was two-tenths of a second behind Montoya entering the white-flag lap, but couldn’t make a dramatic last-turn pass.
“I just had too much push when he got by,” Power said. “I had to lift on that last lap. He was definitely better when he got behind me. That’s why he got the run. Anywhere else I’d be happy with second, but (not) here. It was a great month overall — first, first and second, second.”
Power won the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 9 from the pole and started second in the “500″ in the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.
Kimball finished 0.7950 of a second back in third – a career best in five Indy 500 starts – after starting 14th in the No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. Dixon, who led a field-high 84 laps, was 1.0292 seconds arrears in fourth place in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. Graham Rahal, who started 17th in the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, finished fifth.
Marco Andretti, Castroneves, JR Hildebrand, Josef Newgarden and front-row starter Simon Pagenaud completed the top 10 that includes five Americans on this Memorial Day weekend.
The 200-lap race saw six caution periods for 47 laps, including five incidents involving a total of 11 cars. Sebastian Saavedra, driver of the No. 17 AFS Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, sustained a contusion to his right foot when his car was hit in the side by Stefano Coletti in the No. 4 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet. Saavedra must be evaluated before being cleared to race again.
2013 Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan crashed on his own on Lap 152, but walked away and lauded the safety of the cars.
“It (crashing) is a very unfortunate thing to happen to me,” Kanaan said, “but if I had to prove it that we don’t flip cars anymore, here it is for the critics. (I’m) heartbroken but OK.”
Dale Coyne Racing crewman Daniel Jang, part of the No. 18 Tristan Vautier crew, was transported to IU Health Methodist Hospital with a right ankle injury when clipped by teammate James Davison’s car after it collided with the third Coyne car, driven by Pippa Mann, while exiting its pit.
The 100th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for May 29, 2016.