INDIANAPOLIS - Target Ganassi Racing's Juan Montoya dominated the 84th running of the Indianapolis 500 today to become the first rookie since 1966 to win the world's most famous auto race. Montoya led 167 of 200 laps on the 2.5-mile...
INDIANAPOLIS - Target Ganassi Racing's Juan Montoya dominated the 84th running of the Indianapolis 500 today to become the first rookie since 1966 to win the world's most famous auto race. Montoya led 167 of 200 laps on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval with his Oldsmobile-powered G-Force. He took the checkered flag with a 7.184-second margin of victory over 1996 Indy 500 winner Buddy Lazier.
"This is still the biggest race in the world, and this is the biggest win in the world," said team owner Chip Ganassi.
Montoya scored Oldsmobile's fourth straight Indianapolis 500 victory and extended the IRL Aurora V8's winning streak to 33 consecutive races. Exceptional fuel mileage, outstanding pit stops, and impeccable driving under pressure gave Montoya an insurmountable advantage. The reigning CART champion started in the middle of the front row. He took the lead for the third and final time when he passed his Ganassi Racing teammate Jimmy Vasser with 20 laps to go.
Although Montoya's victory in the rain-delayed race seemed effortless, he insisted that it was a hard day's work. "The car was perfect," declared the 24-year-old Colombian. "I was pushing as hard as I could every lap today."
Montoya and Ganassi were impressed by the fuel efficiency of their IRL Aurora V8 engine. "We were talking about what good mileage this car got on the yellows compared to our CART car," Ganassi laughed. "I said we better get these guys talking to our CART team about getting better mileage."
Montoya's winning Oldsmobile engine was prepared by Comptech Machine of Eldorado Hills, Calif. "We spend a lot of time working on fuel mileage," said Comptech principal Doug Peterson. "Juan is able to drive smoothly and go fast while using less fuel than the other guys. That's part of his technique."
This was the first Indy 500 for the new 3.5-liter version of Oldsmobile's undefeated IRL Aurora V8 racing engine. "We had done a fair amount of testing on the new engines, and we were confident of their ability to go the distance," Peterson added.
Oldsmobile IRL Aurora V8 engines powered the top four finishers and led all 200 laps. Thirty-one of the 33 starters used Oldsmobile powerplants, and 20 Oldsmobile entries were running at the finish.
In addition to the 200 race laps led by Oldsmobile engines, the all-new 2001 Aurora led the first and last laps on the track today. Actor Anthony Edwards drove the Aurora pace car that brought the field to the green flag, and Montoya and Ganassi made a victory lap sitting atop an Aurora.
Runner-up Lazier pressured Montoya in the closing stages, cutting his lead to just .137 seconds before the final round of pit stops. "I had the car to win today," declared Lazier, whose late-race charge was thwarted by race traffic. "We came from 16th on the grid to running right behind Juan. My engine, tires, and chassis were spectacular today."
Lazier hustled Hemelgarn Racing's Delta Faucet Oldsmobile Dallara to the fastest lap of the race on the 198th circuit, recording a 218.494 mph lap while in hot pursuit of Montoya. He took the lead in the championship race with 138 points over Robbie Buhl and Scott Goodyear, who are tied for second with 112 points.
A.J. Foyt, the owner of last year's Indy 500 winning entry driven by Kenny Brack, also fared well in this year's edition. Foyt's drivers Eliseo Salazar and Jeff Ward finished third and fourth respectively with Roush-prepared Oldsmobile engines.
"Maybe tomorrow I'll be happy with third," said Salazar after his career-best Indy 500 finish.
The race pace was furious in the opening segment with a 207 mph average speed in the first 50 laps. Pole winner Greg Ray brought out the first of seven yellow flags when he encountered the Turn 2 wall on lap 66. The star-crossed polesitter returned to competition only to hit the same wall again on lap 143. Crowd favorite Al Unser Jr. was sidelined by a damaged radiator after running over the debris of Ray's first crash.
The Indianapolis 500 featured two female drivers for the first time in history. Sarah Fisher and Lyn St. James started 19th and 32nd respectively. The two tangled in the first turn on lap 74; neither driver was injured, but both retired from the race.
After a two-week break, the Indy Racing Northern Light Series will run back-to-back races at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colo., on June 10 and June 18 respectively. <pre> RACE SUMMARY: Track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 2.5-mile oval Winner: Juan Montoya, Target Ganassi Racing Oldsmobile G-Force Margin of Victory: 7.184 seconds Average Speed: 167.607 mph
Manufacturer Results: Oldsmobile Infiniti Laps Led 200 0 Starters 31 2 Running at Finish 20 2
Winning Oldsmobile Engine Builder: Comptech Machine
POINT STANDINGS: (After 4 of 9 events) Driver/Engine Wins Points 1. Buddy Lazier/Olds 1 138 2. Robbie Buhl/Olds 1 112 Scott Goodyear/Olds 0 112 4. Eliseo Salazar/Olds 0 110 5. Eddie Cheever/Infiniti 0 104
Manufacturer Wins Points 1. Oldsmobile 4 43 2. Nissan 0 28
NEXT RACE: Casino Magic 500, Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, Saturday, June 10, 2000 TV: ESPN, 8:00 p.m. ET