Once again weather has tampered with the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, as a red flag called due to severe weather conditions in the Indianapolis area brought a halt to the 88th Indianapolis 5000 Mile Race after only 29 laps had been run. The ...
Once again weather has tampered with the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, as a red flag called due to severe weather conditions in the Indianapolis area brought a halt to the 88th Indianapolis 5000 Mile Race after only 29 laps had been run.
The start was pushed back by more than two hours after morning storms necessitated track drying - normally at least a two-hour exercise - and the cars were gridded and given the green flags shortly after 1PM.
Ten laps ran under green flag conditions with polesitter Buddy Rice leading the field of 33 in his #15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz G Force/Honda before A.J. Foyt IV brought out the first yellow flag on Lap 11. Losing the back of his #14 Conseco Dallara/Toyota, Foyt made heavy contact with the outside Turn 1 wall, coming to rest in the short chute between Turns 1 and 2.
He had brushed the Turn 4 wall and ridden the front straight before a half- spin in One left the 20-year-old Texan first out of the race. "He just run out of brains today," grandfather and team owner A.J. Foyt Jr. said later.
During the ensuing pit stops by the lead pack, Greg Ray spent a long stay in his pit box with, presumably electronics problems. He later rejoined the field six laps back in the #13 Rent-A-Center Panoz G Force/Honda and was continuing to run as caboose of the field.
When they resumed green flag racing, Dan Wheldon had the lead by virtue of a great pit stop by his #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda crew, while two-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves held second place in the #3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota.
Wheldon thought, "It was a pretty good start so far and the crew did an excellent job in the pits. I'm ready to get back out there," the points leader enthused. Castroneves called his car "awesome. I'm just taking it easy and everybody is really respecting each other out there."
Tony Kanaan was third in the #11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda and, while he realized the weather didn't look good, "I'm confident. I think we can do well as soon as we go green again. Polesitter Rice lay fourth at the red and said his car "is in good shape right now. It'll be difficult to get the track dry, get back out and get the race all in before darkness. I guess we'll just have to wait until we hear what the official word is."
Sam Hornish Jr.'s #6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota held fifth place and the two-time Indy Racing League IndyCar Series champion declared he was "pretty happy with the way the car was handling. When the early caution came out, we decided to stop and fuel up so we could make it a little bit further. The car was handling really well," he said.
Teammates Kosuke Matsuura (#55 Panasonic/ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda) and Adrian Fernandez in the #5 Quaker State/Telmex Panoz G Force/Honda lay sixth and seventh, respectively.
Bryan Herta, who began the race in 23rd due to a crash in qualifying on MBNA Pole Day held eighth place in his #7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda and said his car "was pretty good, pretty good. We can work on it still," he noted.
Tomas Scheckter (#4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet) in ninth remarked, "I feel sorry for the fans that came out here. They do this for the love of it and so do we." If the race has to be postponed until Monday, Scheckter hopes to "make sure we get it together and give the crowd a good show."
Vitor Meira rounded out the top ten in the #17 Team CENTRIX Panoz G Force/Honda. The Brazilian's car "was running really good. It's a long race so we were not racing, I think. The track was really green and we are just going to see what will happen."
At 2:05PM Robby Gordon departed the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway grounds in order to get to Charlotte, NC in time for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway, leaving Jaques Lazier to, hopefully, continue the run should the rain blow through in time. Gordon, who started the race 18th was up to tenth place by the end of the first lap in his #70 Meijer/Coca-Cola Dallara/Chevy; he lay 16th at the red.
Among other drivers to make their way up the grid, Tora Takagi held 20th spot at the red from his 26th starting slot in the #12 Pioneer Dallara/Toyota and PJ Jones was 27th from 31st on the grid in the #98 CURB Records/Agajanian/Beck Motorsports Dallara/Chevy. By not pitting under the yellow called for Foyt's accident, Alex Barron had the #51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevy in 14th from his 24th starting space.
On the other side of the coin, Bruno Junqueira (#36 PacifiCare Panoz G Force/Honda) fell from 4th starting position to 13th place after the round of pit stops.
As tow trucks began to attempt ridding the circuit of moisture, sunshine peeked through the massive cloud cover. Heavy storms, however, are nestled west of the IMS facility in Speedway, IN, making a re-start and completion of the 200-lap enduro today an unlikely proposition.