Motorsports fans were treated to an amazing day yesterday. After being treated to an action-packed running of the Monaco Grand Prix in the morning (US time), we got to settle in for the historic 100th running of the Indy 500. Alex Tagliani had set the pole, but over the course of the race he fell steadily in position until he connected with the wall and his race ended. Scott Dixon took an early lead, but would ultimately be muscled down to fifth.
A couple of unbelievably bad pit stops caused both Will Power and Jay Howard to each lose a wheel coming out of the pits, and incident Power was able to recover from much better than Howard was able to. Tony Kanaan also had a bad pit experience which undid all of the hard passing work he had done to move up from 22nd to 6th place, although he would end up still finishing 4th. Even more dramatic was the passing work from Danica Patrick, who had worked her way up from 25th to eventually lead the race for 10 laps.
It was the first time she had lead since 2005, and fans were able to briefly entertain the notion that an American might win this iconic American race for the first time since 2006. Patrick's need to refuel forced her to give up the lead, and it looked as though the race would go to Bertrand Baguette, until he was also forced to pit for fuel. The lead was then handed to J.R. Hildebrand, who just needed to hold off Dan Wheldon for a couple laps to take the win. Hildebrand got carried away though, and hit the wall on turn 4 of the last lap, allowing Wheldon past for the win.
Hildebrand was still able to cross the line in second place on just three wheels, an impressive feat, but probably not the ending he had hoped for. Photos courtesy of IMS.