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« Uncle pressdog’s Trackside Chat — Indianapolis Motor Speedway Edition | Main | Deluxe Notes Taken from the 2013 Indianapolis 500 »

May 27, 2013


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Dustin Dearman


In the end, it was a coronation for the People’s Champion.

Tony Kanaan of Brazil took the checkered flag at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday erasing ghosts of a bad luck past.

He has crashed out. Rain has fallen on his parade and he has led a mountainous number of laps only to see the victor car lengths ahead sip milk in Victory Circle.

The greatest re-starter in the sport’s history perfected his craft on the 197th lap, passing Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay at the Yard of Bricks. And, when Dario Franchitti, a three-time winner aiming for a record-tying fourth victory, hammered his Dallara-Honda into the Turn 1 wall, immediate jubilation and gratitude shone on Kanaan by the people of Indiana and the racing world.

Kanaan was the winner, finally.

Kanaan had led before, seven events in a row at one time. Now he led when it mattered.

The end.

It was a record-setting day at Indianapolis.

There were a record number of lead changes (68), a record number of leaders (14), but most importantly, it was the fastest race ever held in the 97 attempts of the annual celebration of speed.
187.433 miles per hour.

500 miles in just 2 hours, 40 minutes and 3.4181 seconds. And it finished under a yellow flag.

The previous record was set when Arie Luyendyk dominated the 1990 race driving for Doug Sheirson Racing.

In a race where winning is held supreme, leading was the wrong place to be.

Ed Carpenter, born out of the breast of the Speedway, the pole sitter, took charge early on. He traded the lead with Marco Andretti and Kanaan for the first third of the race. Roger Penske’s redeemed AJ Almendinger, a former Champ Car dynamo and cast off in the Nascar series due to a drug indictment, rocketed to the front late in the race. A broken seat belt set him back in the field when the race came to a head.

Columbia’s Carlos Munoz, a 21-year-old rookie, entered the race equaling his countryman and idol, Juan Pablo Montoya – the 2000 Indy 500 Champion – started second and stayed calm throughout. Munoz managed his car throughout the event and placed himself to win. He led laps, and passed Hunter-Reay, the defending series champ, with three laps to go as Kanaan took the lead. If the race had gone green to the end, Munoz may be the subject of cheer today.

Maybe next year.

But it was Kanaan.
The People’s Champion.

I sat in the J Stands last year when Kanaan led with 10 to go. The Speedway, all 2.5 miles and 300,000 souls of it, shook. But, that was a Ganassi Day, a Franchitti Day.

Sunday, was a Kanaan Day.

Indy has a way of choosing it’s champions.

Kanaan succumbed to the idea he may never win the race, that he wasn’t worthy of Indy’s knighthood. He admitted that a win may never be in his deck of cards. For his previous 11 tries, Kanaan believed he was destined to sit with the 500s greatest also-rans: Michael Andretti, Lloyd Ruby, et al. The 12th attempt was the charm.

Driving for Jimmy Vassar’s KV Racing, Kanaan was up front all day. He saw his countryman and friend, Helio Castroneves – who like Franchitti was vying for a fourth title – take the lead in the last third of the event. He saw Marco Andretti, Michael’s son, lead. He saw Ed, Carlos, Ryan, and AJ use the significant tow the Dallara’s created to zoom forward and take the point. Undoubtedly, Kanaan studied the draft’s effects all day.

On the final restart, caused when Graham Rahal –the son of 1986 champ Bobby Rahal – spun in the track’s north end, Kanaan took advantage. He sucked into Hunter-Reay’s stream and cut low, mere yards from the front stretch’s inside retaining wall. Munoz went high and the two jetted past the yellow car in a blink. Kanaan made his car stick to the track in Turn 1, as did Munoz in the higher groove. They prepared for a two-lap fight. Kanaan said he was going to teach the young Colombian everything he wanted to know about racing at Indianapolis in those final two laps. But, a caution flag from Franchitti’s crash would postpone the lesson for another day. Kanaan was up front and would have to circuit the course two more times behind Johnny Rutherford’s pace car. The vibrations of the crowd resonated through Speedway and the television.

The People have been rooting on “T.K.” for years.

Yes, the race ended under caution, as have three of the last four events. But, there were no racing gimmicks. No buttons, not restrictor plates, no faux overtime. Here, at the birthplace of auto racing’s speed and endurance, 500 miles is 500 miles, no matter how her competitor’s get there.

But it was Kanaan, his large nose and even larger personality, who was draped in the champions wreath, who drowned himself in the celebratory bottle of milk.

The People demanded a champion.

And the racing Gods complied.

Kayla (kiki85)

IMS is definitely screwed either way in regard to security. Personally I'd rather they be extra careful and the line be longer than have something happen. I do like the idea of a no cooler line, that's a great idea. You should pass that on to someone (assuming they don't do it already). But I'm not surprised it took so long. People bring in a crazy amount of stuff in bags and coolers - I was shocked at how much people tried to bring in to Milwaukee last year.


They did have an "express" line at Gate 6 for those with "no bags/no coolers".

I'm all for the security checks, and I'll be sure to come earlier next year. I'm also sure they'll do a better job organizing.

Brian McKay in Florida

"Every single Indy 500 so far has been 200 miles (unless shortened by rain)?"
I thought that each Indianapolis 500-Mile Race was 500 miles, unless rain-shortened (Dario Frachitti and Buddy Rice), or Jacques Villeneuve races 505 miles.

John S

Texas Motor Speedway allows coolers.

Tom G.

Got to the track again by 6:30 am this year. Excessive? Yes. Regrets? No. When I ran out to the john 30 minutes before the race started the lines on Georgetown were still enormous. I can't say it wasn't predictable. After the Boston tragedy you knew they were going to be checking every bag & cooler.

The cooler policy will eventually change. That's a sad fact of our times. Economically, socially, politically, it's not 1950's anymore. I'm sure people will be upset, like they were about the change in ticket prices, or charging for infield parking, but in IMS' defense I can't think of ANY other venue that forgoes such $$$$$$ to maintain tradition. The 500 is more than just a sporting event. It's like Woodstock going on inside the stadium as the Superbowl is played around it.

I'm sure IMS will find a workable solution. Just like they did with the snake pit, turning it from total debauchery and anarchy into "Snake Pit-TM Inc.". A festival where the party goers can still get their drunk on, but within the confines of a much more secure, and organized environment.

The Speedgeek

One note: people like to point out that the 2012 500 ended under caution (usually when making the case for a GWC finish), but had that same scenario (wreck on the first corner of lap 200) played out in ANY racing series, the race would have finished "under caution". Short of stopping the cars immediately in the middle of the backstraight and then having a standing start, there would be no way to restart the race, anyway.

As for either 2012 or 2013, I just don't understand how anybody could feel that they were "deprived" of anything, even if the last couple of moments of the race were behind the pace car. Not fast enough? Not enough leaders? Not enough lead changes? Not enough passes? Not enough "oh my God, did you see that?" moments? Not enough drama or storylines? What, exactly, were either of those races lacking?


Nice Comment, Dustin, eloquent and on point! At Indy you need to be lucky AND good.


Not so much a comment as a blog post from Dustin. I appreciate comments, but I don't do guest posts ...

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