IRL: Indy 500 final wrapup

Rice brings Rahal, Honda to Victory Lane at Indianapolis In 1994, Rahal brought the Honda engine to Indianapolis for the first time, but couldn't find enough speed to qualify for the race, opting to race a car leased from Roger Penske. Ten ...

Rice brings Rahal, Honda to Victory Lane at Indianapolis

In 1994, Rahal brought the Honda engine to Indianapolis for the first time, but couldn't find enough speed to qualify for the race, opting to race a car leased from Roger Penske.

Ten years later, Buddy Rice, who entered this season as Rahal's substitute driver for Kenny Brack, finally brought Honda to victory lane at the Indianapolis 500.

"I am more so pleased for Scott and Dave and the entire team, and of course Buddy, a guy that people wouldn't give a chance to, and here he is," said Rahal, who won the Indianapolis 500 in 1986. "I believe that he dominated the race. I don't know how many laps he led, but he certainly drove around everybody when he had to. You know, just a fantastic performance."

The win completes a long journey for Rice, who first caught Rahal's eye when he raced in the Toyota Atlantic Series, but found himself with limited open-wheel racing opportunities after parting ways with Red Bull Cheever Racing at the end of the 2003 season.

"You don't win the Atlantic championship and not have talent," Rahal said. "You don't win as many races as he did in other categories and not have talent. And it's just like anything for a driver, you want to be in the right environment, the right team. If you're in the right environment, you can really grow and blossom and achieve, and you can fulfill your destiny and the capabilities that you have.

"I've got to tell you, I can't imagine a better guy for that than Buddy. We have been very, very pleased with how he has come into this team and really become the leader that we needed."

Rice's victory also continued Honda's dominance of the IRL IndyCar® Series this season. A Honda-powered car has captured the pole for each of the series' four races this season and won the last three events.

"They always said when the timing is right, things will come together, and we'll make something happen," said Rice, the first American to win the Indianapolis 500 since 1998. "I guess this was the right time. We've had two good other runs at other facilities, and Honda finally got their first win at Motegi, and for us to come here, the long history Bob has with Honda and for to us get the pole for them for the first time and the first win is huge at the biggest race in the world."

But though Rice has finally found victory lane in the IndyCar Series, his focus is clear. He stands third in the standings behind Andretti Green Racing teammates Dan Wheldon and Tony Kanaan and feels that he can be as successful as his car owner, who was recently inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.

"I'm on equal footing with Bob to a certain degree, because I've won the Indianapolis 500 now, but he still has got championships and a lot more wins under his belt," Rice said. "I've got to keep trying to chase that."

Victory Tour to visit New York, Washington, Richmond, Texas: Rice's will make several appearances across the country in celebration of his Indianapolis 500 win.

On June 1-2, Rice will be in New York, where he will appear in Times Square, attend a luncheon at ESPN Zone, visit the New York Stock Exchange, throw out the first pitch at a New York Yankees game and make an appearance on "Live with Regis and Kelly," and "Charlie Rose Show."

On June 3, the tour moves to Washington D.C. and Richmond for appearances to promote the SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway and on June 4, Rice will visit Texas Motor Speedway to promote the Bombardier 500k.

Winning driver turned owner: Rahal joined elite company, becoming the second IRL IndyCar Series team owner to win the race as a owner and a driver.

"It's obviously very sweet," said Rahal, who joined A.J. Foyt as a winner driver turned owner. "People have asked me, is it sweeter than doing it as a driver; I think it's just different. There's nothing like crossing the Yard of Bricks when you're driving a racing car. And yet, at the same token, this has been just a great achievement for our team. Three in the top 10, I mean, I can't be happier."

Rahal's other two drivers Vitor Meira and Roger Yasukawa finished seventh and 10th, respectively in the race.

Tough day for Foyts: Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Foyt's day wasn't as good as Rahal's, even though he had a son and a grandson in the race Indianapolis 500

A.J. Foyt IV's No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone made contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 1, spun across the track and made contact with the inside barrier in the short chute on Lap 11.

"I brushed the wall coming out of Turn 4, and I thought everything was OK," he said. "I came out of (Turn) 1 and found out it wasn't."

With the race red flagged because of the rain, Foyt's crew replaced the rear wing, nose, undertray, rear suspension, right front suspension and both sidepods by using parts from the back-up car. He rejoined the field on the restart 18 laps down and ran 15 laps before retiring. He finished 33rd.

Sitting in the team's pit box, he watched on the monitor as Larry Foyt's No. 41 A.J. Foyt Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone made contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2 on Lap 56. Larry Foyt finished 32nd, one position lower than his famous father's worst finish at Indianapolis.

Of note: ABC Sports was on the air live for eight hours, 22 minutes during its broadcast of the 88th Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 30, a record length for a live ABC Sports telecast outside of Olympic coverage. .... Rice's win ties his hometown of Phoenix, with Philadelphia and Los Angeles as the city with the most winning drivers with three. 1958 winner Jimmy Bryan and 1998 winner Eddie Cheever also called Phoenix home. ... For the second consecutive year, the Kentucky Derby accurately predicted the winner of the Indianapolis 500. In 2003, Funny Cide won the Derby and wore the No. 6, the same number as Gil de Ferran's winning car. This year, Smarty Jones won the Derby wearing the No. 15, the same number as Buddy Rice's winning car.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Gil de Ferran , A.J. Foyt IV , Tony Kanaan , Kenny Brack , Larry Foyt , Dan Wheldon , Roger Yasukawa , Buddy Rice , Roger Penske , A.J. Foyt , Vitor Meira