IRL: Indy 500: Honda race report

Hondas Flawless and Hornish Wins A Thrilling Indy 500 Sam Hornish Jr. won a thrilling 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, passing rookie Marco Andretti in the final run from Turn Four to the checkered flag in an event that saw...

Hondas Flawless and Hornish Wins A Thrilling Indy 500

Sam Hornish Jr. won a thrilling 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, passing rookie Marco Andretti in the final run from Turn Four to the checkered flag in an event that saw Honda supply the full 33-car starting field, and all 33 engines run flawlessly.

Sunday's 33 starting drivers completed a total of 5,035 laps (12,587.5 miles) with complete engine reliability. Speedway records are not complete, but it is believed this is the first time in '500' history that the race has run without a single engine problem.

For Hornish and his Marlboro Team Penske team, the key to the race came on Lap 160, when team owner Roger Penske called Hornish under caution to make his final pit stop, in addition to a 'drive through' penalty for a pit lane violation that had taken place in his previous scheduled pit stop.

The move for both fuel and fresh tires -- plus the following 'drive through' under green flag conditions -- dropped Hornish to the tail end of the lead lap, but positioned him for his charge to the front in the final laps, when he could run with a full-rich fuel mixture and a well-handling chassis.

One final yellow -- for Felipe Giaffone's crash on Lap 191 -- allowed Hornish to close up on leaders Marco and Michael Andretti, who had pitted for just a final spash of fuel and no new tires. The green flag waved on Lap 196 and with a better handling car, Hornish immediately caught and passed Michael Andretti.

That set up a duel between Hornish and 19-year-old Marco Andretti, making his first '500' race start in his rookie IndyCar Series season. With less than two laps remaining, Hornish made his first passing attempt, but was firmly rebuffed by Andretti. But Hornish refused to concede the victory, and powering off Turn 4 on the final lap, slipstreamed past Andretti to post his first '500' victory in six attempts by just 0.0635 seconds, the second-closest finish in Indianapolis 500 history.

Prior to the race start, Honda-powered drivers had turned a total of 12,155 laps (20,387.5 miles) in practice and qualifying with just one confirmed mechanical failure all month.

Robert Clarke (President, Honda Performance Development) on Honda powering the entire 33-car field: "We believe this is the first time the Indianapolis 500 has been run without a single engine problem. It's an amazing accomplishment for everyone at Honda Performance Development and our technical partner at Ilmor. I'm both extremely proud of the result and grateful for the incredible effort put forth by all of our associates leading up to today's race. Congratulations to Sam [Hornish] and Roger [Penske] for a great '500'. Their team fought back from adversity and gave us a thrilling finish today."

Sam Hornish Jr. (#6 Marlboro Team Penske Honda) Started 1st, finished 1st, second: "Marco [Andretti] did a great job today. And at the end he raced me hard but fair. The first time I wasn't able to get the job done, but the last time I had a good run and he gave me the room I needed. The car was great, and it was the best it was all day in the final laps when it needed to be."

-honda

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Felipe Giaffone , Michael Andretti , Marco Andretti , Roger Penske , Robert Clark , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske