IRL: Indy500: McGehee 11th in Indy 500

INDIANAPOLIS, May 27 - "There's no way to remember how long this race really is," said a tired but overall pleased Robby McGehee after he climbed out of Cahill Racing's "Cure Autism Now" Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone ...

INDIANAPOLIS, May 27 - "There's no way to remember how long this race really is," said a tired but overall pleased Robby McGehee after he climbed out of Cahill Racing's "Cure Autism Now" Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone #10 Sunday afternoon at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after finishing 11th in the world's largest single-day sporting event, the Indianapolis 500.

"The Cahill team did a really great job," he added. "We went out there and ran with a really tough field."

McGehee (Mc-GEE), of St. Louis, said the highlight of his race was his battle with his mentor, Arie Luyendyk, near the end of the 200-lap event. Luyendyk, who won this race in 1990 and 1997, finished two places behind McGehee. Buzz Calkins was sandwiched between the two former teammates in 12th when Helio Castroneves took the checkered flag on lap 200.

McGehee started 14th in the field of 33 in the accident- and rain-marred event. There were eight cautions in the race, five of which were for accidents, and one red-flag period for rain.

"The car was good, but if we hadn't been interrupted so much with accidents and weather problems, it would have been easier to pinpoint out set-up," McGehee noted. "The car started the race with a little push, but I could work with it. It was pretty good when we were running by ourselves, but a little looser in traffic. The car had a big push during the last stint. I had to dial in the weight-jacker as much as I could in that period.

"If I had to give the car a grade for the day, it would be a B plus or C minus," he concluded.

McGehee said he had two close calls.

"I was right behind Sam Hornish Jr. when he spun," he said. "That was close."

Hornish spun in turn four on a restart on lap 18. Al Unser Jr. wasn't as lucky as McGehee. He went high to avoid Hornish but ran out of room and hit the wall on the frontstretch. Neither Hornish nor Unser were hurt.

"When Cory Witherill spun, I had to slam on my brakes so hard that I flat-spotted my tires," McGehee also related. "That was really close. I barely avoided him."

That occurred on lap 134 in turn four.

Smoke was seen from McGehee's car after that incident, but when the Cahill team brought him into the pits to check it out and perform a regular pit stop they discovered the smoke was being caused by a hole in McGehee's right-front tire. After that tire was replaced there was no more smoke.

Communication was also a problem.

"Our radios didn't work for the first quarter of the race," McGehee said. "Eventually we could hear each other if we used all of the frequencies we had. I really need to apologize to someone because when the radio first went out I touched wheels with someone in turn three. I really didn't know he was there."

After Jim Nabors sang "Back Home Again in Indiana" and the race got underway, McGehee got off to a great start. He ran in 11th, 12th or 13th pl ace most of the afternoon, dropping on the scoring pylon when he pitted and then steadily moving back up.

There was a problem with the fueling procedure on one early pit stop that tacked on some additional seconds, but for the most part his pit stops were perfect.

McGehee heads to the next race, coming up June 9 at Texas Motor Speedway, in 12th place in the Indy Racing Northern Light series' driver point standings. Cahill Racing is in 12th place in the entrant point standings.

-LM

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Buzz Calkins , Al Unser Jr. , Arie Luyendyk , Cory Witherill , Helio Castroneves , Sam Hornish Jr.