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Recap (Indianapolis Star) of the 100th Indy 500

Discussion in 'Xbox One | RaceDepartment INDYCAR Series' started by Rob, May 30, 2016.

  1. Rob

    XBO: OctoberDusk06 Premium Member

    Out of gas, full of tears; Rossi's almost impossible Indy 500 victory
    Gregg Doyel, gregg.doyel@indystar.com

    The numbers didn’t work, and Bryan Herta knows numbers. Once upon a time, before he entered the race-car business, he was a math major at Ohio State University. He switched to economics. He knows numbers.

    But the numbers Sunday, they wouldn’t work. One of his drivers in the 100th Indianapolis 500, a previously unknown rookie named Alexander Rossi, was about 85 miles from the finish line when he made his final pit stop for fuel. An IndyCar holds 19 gallons and gets about 4 miles per gallon.

    You see the problem, don’t you?

    Multiply 19 gallons by 4 mpg. That’s 76 miles a car can go before running out of gas.

    After making that pit stop with 34 laps left, Rossi had 85 miles left.

    “Almost impossible,” is how Herta described the task ahead of Alexander Rossi. “I can’t overstate how hard it was for Alex to do what I was asking him to do.”

    On the radio with his driver, Herta was telling Rossi not to drive so fast that he ran out of gas, but not to drive so slowly that he lost the lead. Herta was telling Rossi to floor it around the turns – but to lay off the gas on the straightaways. Pull the clutch, Herta was saying. Coast as far as he could.


    On the radio with his boss, Rossi was asking one thing:


    Four laps to go. Rossi was 16 seconds ahead of teammate Carlos Munoz, but that was misleading. He was ahead of Munoz, he was in the lead at all, because of his pit-stop strategy. Alexander Rossi had a strong car on Sunday, but it wasn’t strong enough to win. Not all things being equal.

    So here’s what Bryan Herta decided: Let’s un-equalize things. Let’s play the fuel game. If winning was the goal, pulling into pit row one last time – like most of the rest of the field was doing – was a non-starter. Alexander Rossi’s car was solid, but not nearly solid enough to overcome the clearly superior rides on Sunday of Munoz, Josef Newgarden, Tony Kanaan and James Hinchcliffe. Not if he used several valuable seconds to get more gas.

    Kanaan stopped for gas at Lap 192. Rossi stayed on the track and moved to fifth.

    Newgarden and Hinchcliffe stopped at Lap 195. Rossi stayed on the track and moved into third.

    Munoz stopped for a splash of gas at Lap 196. Rossi stayed on the track and took the lead. And after it was over, Carlos Munoz seemed more than confused. He seemed shocked. He seemed almost hurt. Alexander Rossi is his teammate under the Andretti Autosport banner. Why was his teammate staying on the track, taking his spot in first place?


    Why was Carlos Munoz being told to pull into pit lane?

    “I knew he didn’t have enough fuel,” Munoz was saying afterward, trying to talk his way through a problem with no logical solution. “I don’t know how my teammate did it without stopping. If I’m honest, I want to know what he did. I am second; why's he not stopping? He’s supposed to stop. I have to look and see what he did. I don’t know what he did.”

    Under normal conditions, no, Alexander Rossi didn’t have enough fuel to win the 100th Indy 500. Under normal conditions, he didn’t have enough fuel to finish the Indy 500. But these conditions were not normal.

    One, that lead. Entering Lap 198, because he didn’t pull over for gas with the leaders, he was 16 seconds ahead of his closest competitor, Munoz. In a sport moving as fast as this, 16 seconds is a lead of more than a mile. That’s enormous.


    Two, his teammates. Andretti Autosport had five drivers in the field Sunday, and two of them – Townsend Bell and Ryan Hunter-Reay – were just finishing out the string on Sunday. Bell and Hunter-Reay had two of the stronger cars in the field, combining to hold the lead 18 times for 64 total laps, but they fell out of contention after 115 laps when they collided with each other coming out of pit row.

    Bell and Hunter-Reay just happened to be in the vicinity of Rossi as he was running low on gas. So here’s what the Andretti Autosport guys did: They pulled ahead of Rossi, who wasn’t going terribly fast because of his fuel conservation mode, and pulled him along in their draft.

    “You saw how close it was,” Herta says. “I think without our teammates, (Rossi) doesn’t make it.”


    But he did make it. This was the crazy-huge 100th running of the most famous race in the world. A crowd of 350,000 was at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Many times more than that were watching on live television, even here in Indianapolis, where IMS lifted the traditional local blackout after selling every conceivable ticket.

    So you know how this story ends. You know Alexander Rossi, Indy 500 rookie, won. You might even know that he’s California-born and European-trained. Perhaps you know that IMS was just the second oval he’s ever raced on. The first was earlier this season in Phoenix.

    If you were watching the race on TV or hanging around social media afterward, you know that the lipstick on his right cheek came from a kiss planted there by Mrs. Brady herself, Florence Henderson, the Indiana native who served as grand marshal and was waiting to congratulate the winner. She had to wait longer than normal for this winner, because this winner had run out of gas on the far side of the track.


    Well, technically, Rossi had run out of gas coming out of Turn 4, a half-mile from the finish line. He was going fast enough to coast past the checkered flag less than five seconds ahead of Munoz, and to keep coasting until his car came to a stop nearly a mile down the track. The victorious car of the prestigious 100th running of the Indy 500 had to be towed back to the finish line, where Rossi sat behind the wheel for a full minute, crying into his hands, before mustering the emotional strength to stand in the cockpit and be congratulated by Greg Brady’s stepmother.

    Alexander Rossi was handed a bottle of milk. His tank was empty. He started chugging.

    Last edited: May 30, 2016
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  2. Rob

    XBO: OctoberDusk06 Premium Member

    Last 50 laps and post-race:
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  3. Rob

    XBO: OctoberDusk06 Premium Member

    Rossi 'practiced' his fuel-saving drive to 100th Indy 500 glory
    But just as in his amazing 36-lap run to the checkered flag on a single load of ethanol to win Sunday’s epic race, Rossi made it to the dinner without the need of a splash and go.
    “I was at zero miles to the gallon and I needed two miles to get to the exit, so I guess I got some practice in my Honda Pilot. Buy one, they're amazing,” Rossi said today following the traditional winning driver’s photos, complete with the winning car and Borg-Warner Trophy on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway yard of bricks.
    “I like to see how far I can go (on a tank of fuel), but I would never imagine doing that in a race, specifically the Indy 500, for a win. I tried to turn off the air conditioning in the race car (to save fuel),” he joked, “but I couldn't find the switch.”
    “What a lot of people think when they hear I was running out of fuel (at the end of the race), they think it was something that I had to adjust for on the last like two or three laps,” he said. “But this was a decision that was made 90 laps prior. I was in fuel conserve mode from that point, all the while trying to maintain and advance my position. It was a pretty tricky end to the race.”