Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Speedway, IN — May 29, 2022
“The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” is back in front of fans at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A perfect day greeted the packed grandstands and the 33 drivers that will take the green flag in the Memorial Weekend Classic, the Indianapolis 500.
Scott Dixon(9) sits on the pole for today’s race with a four-lap average speed of 234.046 mph. Dixon’s teammate Alex Palou(10) joins him in the middle of the front row and Rinus VeeKay(21) starts on the outside. Both men beside Dixon exceeded an average speed of 233 mph to earn their starting positions.
In addition to the incredible speeds, there are some underlying stories IndyCar regulars will be following. Last year Hélio Castroneves(06) joined the exclusive club of four-time winners adding his name to those of AJ Foyt, Rick Mears, and Al Unser. To set himself apart from those immortal race car drivers, Castroneves will have to climb to the front from the 27th starting position and find some more speed as he qualified five mph slower than the pole-sitter.
Seven-time NASCAR champion, Jimmie Johnson(48), starts his first Indy 500 after two years and 17 races learning the particulars of open-wheel racing on road courses. That seems strange as NASCAR races are run primarily on ovals and Johnson is a four-time winner at the Brickyard in his stock-car racing career. He has a fast car, just three miles per hour slower than the pole-sitter. Johnson starts 12th on the grid.
The start is always an adventure at Indy as drivers line up three-wide, 11 rows deep, to take the green flag. Safely through the opening circuit, everyone navigated the early laps without issues. Green flag pit stops started at lap 33 and no incidents were reported on pit road as the cars cycled through.
The first casualty of the race saw Rinus VeeKay wobble off turn two and hit the wall on the backstretch.
Just as the second round of pit stops began Callum Ilott(11) spun in almost the same place as VeeKay interrupting the pit process. The leader, Scott Dixon, completed his service before the accident.
However, Palou got caught on the track as the pit road closed during the caution. Palou was forced to pit under emergency conditions for a splash of fuel and then was penalized, having to come in again to complete his stop. Losing valuable track position as a result.
As the laps counted down to the halfway point Dixon, and Conor Daly(20) swapped the lead at the front of the pack as new names appeared at the top of the leaderboard. With 100 laps of the 200 to be run, in the books, Dixon held the lead. Castroneves sat 14th and Johnson was mired in 28th place.
Turn two has been the trouble spot all day. Just like the first two accidents, Romain Grosjean(28) lost control in the middle of the corner and hit the wall putting him out of the race.
Dixon was just getting ready to make his pit stop when the incident occurred. Fortunately, he had enough fuel to stay on the track until the pits opened avoiding a similar fate that put his teammate Palou at the rear of the field.
Despite Daly and Pato O’Ward(5) holding the top spot briefly on the restart, Scott Dixon returned to the front after the entire field took advantage of yellow flag pit stops. Seemingly able to pass with ease, Dixon is looking for only his second Indy 500 victory. The six-time IndyCar Champion would dearly love to become a multi-time winner of the biggest race of the year. Dixon has finished in the second position four times.
After the next to last round of pit stops, O’Ward came out in the lead with Dixon in second. Scott McLaughlin(3) waited until this series of pit stops were over before becoming the fourth driver to find the wall during the afternoon. This time the wreck happened in the short chute between turns three and four.
On the restart, Dixon quickly passed O’Ward down the front stretch to retake the lead. But, two laps later it was O’ward back to the front. That did not last long either as Dixon has responded to every challenge offered. His final pit stop may be the biggest hurdle Dixon has to clear to drink the milk in victory lane.
Leader pit stops started on lap 173, and Scott Dixon came down pit road on lap 176. Unbelievably, Dixon was caught speeding on pit road and his pass-through penalty undoubtedly cost the fastest driver all day a shot at the victory.
With 12 laps to go in the Indianapolis 500, Jimmie Johnson led. He was the last car to pit during the final sequence. With 10 laps to go Marcus Ericsson(8) led the race, O’Ward trailed by three seconds. Tony Kanaan ran third just over four seconds back.
Just when it looked that Ericsson was good to the checkered flag, Jimmie Johnson fell victim to the curse of turn two and wrecked head-first into the wall.
Unlike 2020 when a late-race caution gifted the win to Takuma Sato, officials stopped the race with four laps to go bringing the field to pit road under the red flag. The race will restart with two laps to go and expect carnage to ensue.
On the drop of the green flag, Marcus Ericsson snaked his way around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway trying to break the draft of Pato O’Ward. Coming to the white flag O’Ward tried to pull up beside the leader and failed on his best chance to take the top spot away. Ericsson held on for the victory becoming the second Swede to win the Indy 500 (1999 winner Kenny Brack).
The 106th edition of the 500-mile race did not disappoint those in attendance. Tony Kanaan finished third, Connor Daly ran sixth, Helio Castroneves sat seventh, and Palou came in ninth.
Scott Dixon was the next to last car on the lead lap, crossing under the checkered flag in 21st. Jimmie Johnson ended up in 28th after his late lap crash.
Results of the 106th Indianapolis 500 from Indianapolis Motor Speedway
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