Michael Andretti Narrowly Misses Win; Finishes Third in Indianapolis Return SPEEDWAY, Ind. (May 28, 2006) - Jim Beam/Vonage driver Michael Andretti drove to within two laps of his first Indianapolis 500 victory before being passed by his son ...
Michael Andretti Narrowly Misses Win; Finishes Third in Indianapolis Return
SPEEDWAY, Ind. (May 28, 2006) - Jim Beam/Vonage driver Michael Andretti drove to within two laps of his first Indianapolis 500 victory before being passed by his son Marco and eventual winner Sam Hornish Jr., and posted a third-place finish in his Brickyard return.
Michael, who took over the lead on lap 194 during a caution period, led for four circuits before the top- two finishers slipped by. The third-place result matched his second-best performance in 15 starts on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis oval.
After starting from the 13th position, Michael moved quickly into the top 10 and then settled into the eighth spot for the majority of the race. With just eight cars on the lead lap for the majority of the back half of the 200-lap event, the Jim Beam/Vonage crew took advantage of its spot in the running order and began to work a fuel strategy to position Michael for a shot at the win.
The strategy was playing out to perfection until the final caution flag flew on lap 191 and erased the advantage. Michael took the point under caution and then restarted out front on lap 196 before dropping to third. Hornish margin over Marco at the finish was .0635 of a second, making Sunday's event the second- closest finish in Indianapolis 500 history. Dan Wheldon and Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan rounded out the top five.
Michael Andretti, #1 Jim Beam/Vonage Dallara/Honda/Firestone
"Right now, this feels like another heartbreak. But I think in another couple days we're going to sit back and think, 'Oh, wow, who would have ever thought it would come down to that?' We were running one and two with just a few laps to go in the Indy 500, and [Marco] almost pulled it off. I literally put my hand in the air thinking he won the race, and I couldn't believe it. Where did Hornish get that speed? It was like he had a button in there to push. It was just unbelievable. We almost had a fairy tale ending. I knew I didn't have the speed, and I saw Marco get a run on me. I figured I would get over, block him a little bit, but then I saw he had such a run that I was going to give him the line and figured I would try to help protect him. Unfortunately, I didn't do a good enough job. Hornish got by me a little too quick, and that was it. But it was a fairy tale, it was the dream that we talked about."
Barry Green, Race Strategist, #1 Jim Beam/Vonage Dallara/Honda/Firestone
"We took a gamble and knew we had to make some really good mileage and Michael was doing that. (Sam) Hornish was still a factor, but he had a lot of time to make up, but he was picking up a second per lap. Based on the laps left, if the yellow didn't come out, I think we would have held him off. That late yellow changed the outcome of the race. Still, all I can say is what a fabulous drive it was on Michael's part. We put him in the back a couple of times because of race strategy and, typical Michael, he soldiers through the field. It was a tremendous drive."