IRL: Crowd roars at Indianapolis 500

Howard Hawks directed the 1932 auto racing movie starring James Cagney, aptly named "The Crowd Roars." The title, appropriate for auto racing in the '30s, described the scene at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today. Witnessing the intense finish...

Howard Hawks directed the 1932 auto racing movie starring James Cagney, aptly named "The Crowd Roars." The title, appropriate for auto racing in the '30s, described the scene at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today. Witnessing the intense finish line battle between Marco Andretti and 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish produced a predictable response from the fans, but it was only ten laps into the race when Dan Wheldon pulled out of line to dive under Helio Castroneves for the lead that the fans realized they wouldn't be spending the day quietly sitting in the grandstands.

Ladies gasped and gentlemen rose to their feet as Wheldon sped down the backstretch, waiting until the last possible minute to turn into the corner, forcing his way into the lead. Open wheel racing pundits will discuss the merits of the few empty seats at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, conveniently neglecting the fact that most of the seats were empty because the fans were standing and cheering.

With 14 official lead changes between seven drivers, the fans had plenty of reasons to roar. It easy to cheer for the leader but the fans showed their appreciation for more than just those drivers that manage to lead a lap. During the five caution periods, track announcer Bob Jenkins used the opportunity to run down the top ten drivers. That gave the fans a chance to cheer for their favorite, and as each driver's name their respective fans would show their support.

Although she finished eighth, Danica Patrick fans vocalized their approval as Jenkins provided her current position throughout the day. Some cheered, while others jumped to their feet, raising a fist of solidarity, willing Danica on her way to victory.

Tony Kanaan fans were well represented. Their response to Tony's third turn pass for the lead over Wheldon was raucously heard over the intense roar of the engines. Kanaan fans were amplified by those who approved of the passing maneuver, exactly the same as Wheldon used to relegate Castroneves from the lead on lap 10.

With a very real chance at earning a major sweep of the top finishing positions, Andretti Green Racing fans rode an emotional roller coaster when the team's fuel strategy backfired due to a late race yellow. That caution period dropped Tony Kanaan and Dario Franchitti from running in the top-four to fifth and seventh place finishes. Nevertheless, Marco Andretti's second place finish in his rookie year was still a good cause to celebrate. Not to mention his father Michael finishing third.

Sam Hornish fans rode the same roller coaster as the Defiance, Ohio driver was assessed a drive-through penalty for leaving the pits with his fuel nozzle still connected to the car. All but out of contention for the victory, it wasn't until the caution came out with nine laps remaining that the complexion of the race changed, closing the gap enjoyed by four of the five Andretti Green Racing drivers.

Fans endured a high temperature of 89 degrees in Indianapolis this afternoon, but the good news is the on track action was much hotter.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Marco Andretti , Danica Patrick , Sam Hornis