Tomas Scheckter led 63 laps of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, but it was Gil de Ferran who took the chequered flag and denied fellow Brazilian Helio Castroneves a third consecutive win at The Brickyard.
Tomas Scheckter led 63 laps of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, but it was Gil de Ferran who took the chequered flag and denied fellow Brazilian Helio Castroneves a third consecutive win at The Brickyard. Tony Kanaan finished third to give Brazil a clean sweep of the top three places.
It was also the first victory for Toyota in the firm's inaugural visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Toyota-powered cars led all but 31 laps for the day. Toyota earned six of the top seven positions.
De Ferran - in a G-Force chassis - and Penske team-mate Castoneves - in a Dallara - were in a different class in the closing stages of the race and dominated the final 30 laps.
Early on, it looked as if Michael Andretti might finally break his Indy curse, but at almost exactly the halfway mark the veteran rolled into the pit with engine problems… It marked a sad end to a great career in American single-seater racing for Andretti.
Ganassi Racing also put in a spirited challenge with both Scott Dixon and Scheckter leading the race. However, Dixon's Indy 500 ended embarrasingly when he smacked the wall trying to warm his tyres on the final yellow period when he too was in contention for victory.
Scheckter finished fourth having had the fastest car for most of the race. But when it really mattered his G-Force Toyota faded and all he could do was to fend off Toyota's Tora Takagi.
The 22-year-old Capetonian led the majority of the laps from lap 50 until lap 167 - 63 in all. Over the last two races at Indianapolis, Scheckter has led 148 laps, which is more than any other driver during that period.
"It was a pretty good day for us," said Scheckter. "We led a bunch of laps and gave ourselves a chance to win today. When I was in the lead, we had a great car. It was difficult to pass if you were behind someone. The field here is so close and competitive that any one of us (in the top four or five) could have won it at the end."
Scheckter’s team-mate Dixon led 15 laps before experiencing fuel pick-up problems on his Target Toyota. The problem forced Dixon to pit 10-12 laps earlier than he needed to, yet Dixon was still on the lead lap in seventh with 10 laps to go. Then he committed a rookie error…
"We had a great car and our lap times were faster than the leader on most of the laps. Unfortunately, when we would get closer to the leader, we would have to come in early to pit. The spin towards the end of the race was my fault,” the New Zealander said.
British rookie Daniel Wheldon was one of six drivers fighting for the lead in the last quarter of the race. But after blocking Sam Hornish Jr going into Turn Three on lap 186, he lost control, hit the wall and rolled. He was very lucky to emerge unscathed from the wreckage.
But the day belonged to De Ferran,who was in pain from the back injury he sustained in a crash at Phoenix in March. Emotional, it took several moments for him to compose himself before taking the traditional swig of milk in Victory Lane.
“It's hard to describe in words what I am feeling right now,” said De Ferran. “It's such an unbelieveable feeling. You always dream about winning a race like this and then saying something smart. But I'm afraid words fail me right now.”
Nobody has ever won the 500 three times in a row and Castroneves came agonisingly close - but the Brazilian was magnanimous in defeat. “To be so close and to be in situation like this to create history, it's disappointing,” he said. “But the car was fantastic and Gil so deserved it.”
Original article from Car