Race Day Diary: The 100th

It was truly an honor to be a part of the 100th Indianapolis 500! To see the history, the prerace ceremony, and a great race was fantastic.

We left for the track at about 6:20AM and we still managed to hit a mountain of traffic. Everyone was pumped and ready to get to the race. It was "awesome" to see even though traffic blows. After getting to the track, stopping at the gift shop with my parents, and finding our seats, Sammi and I left for the Pagoda for a tweetup!

Sammi knows how active I am on Twitter and looks forward to meeting some of the people I talk to on a regular basis. This was also her very first Indy 500! The tweetup was great as always! I got to meet Adrian Rickard (click on each name to view them on Twitter). As they would say where he's from, he's a proper bloke. Special shoutout to Aaryn Ryan for the free beer! Others I had the privilege of talking with includes Mathew Greunholz, James Alban, Sarah Hall, D.J. and Jackie Jordan, Jake Neely, Johanna Husband, Sandy Lamparello, and David Bolton. Thanks to all who took the time to talk to me!

Pippa Mann took the time to come to the tweetup which was really nice of her given that she had quite the day ahead of her. She answered some questions, including her expectations for the race. She said that despite what we had seen on film, her car was quite good. Her goal was a top-15 finish. It's always cool to get the chance to talk to a professional driver about their craft and what their mindset is right before a race.

After that we settled down for the prerace ceremonies. It was pretty cool this year to see a hoard of legendary cars hit the track. My two favorites was the 1993 Emerson Fittipaldi Team Penske Marlbaro car (it was so gorgeous) and the 2011 Dan Wheldon Bryan Herta Autosport car. Both were beautiful and driven by two legends.

I did not like the guy who sang Back Home Again in Indiana. It was a disservice to Jim Nabors.

I was so pumped for the race! Let me preface this next section by saying I have not see a lick of the 100th Indianapolis 500 broadcast by ABC other than the last five laps. I hope to watch the broadcast once it is made available on Youtube. This is all observations I made from the stands and quick reactions I got from Twitter. Here is a full rundown of my thoughts on all drivers starting from last to first, and what I thought of their races:

33) Juan Pablo Montoya 
Very rare that you see the defending champ finish P33 in the following race. Seemed like Juan Pablo Montoya's car wasn't that great early on, so the team probably gave him too much wing on the stop. When he went back out, it caught him off guard and he binned it. Juan wasn't the Juan to win the Juan Hundredth.

32) Sage Karam 
Another bummer race for Sage Karam. Yes Townsend Bell did him no favors, but Karam may have just wanted to back out there and live to keep on fighting. He started way in the back of the field and charged to the front. It was thrilling to watch. But if he can't finish a race, no one will want to hire him.

31) Ed Carpenter 
Ed Carpenter continues to have an ominous black cloud over him at Indianapolis. His results have been dog shit at Indy in recent years. Some sort of mechanical issue put him P31 overall.

30) Buddy Lazier 
Buddy Lazier's day was over before the first lap. A stuck throttle put him out for the first fourth of the race. When he was out there he looked fine. And then his wheel came off after pitting. Someone is getting fired for that. It was great to see Quiznos jump on the car. Mmmmm I'm hungry.

29) Conor Daly 
First off, it was nice to see Conor Daly take the green flag. Early on, Conor looked very racy. He was making the outside lane work well and he benefited from restarts. Unfortunately, Mikhail Aleshin spun and Daly just had to react to avoid missing him and spun in the process, ending his day. But again, he made it past lap one.

28) Stefan Wilson 
No big positives or negatives noticed by me on Stefan Wilson. Mechanical issues set him way back, but he finished and didn't rack up the Dallara bill. In my personal opinion, he still hasn't done enough to merit a ride in the future.

27) Mikhail Aleshin 
A total shame for Mikhail Aleshin who dazzled the crowd all month. Saw him come into turn one and the back end just stepped out. His car was very strong up until that point.

Indianapolis 500
Mikhail Aleshin (third in line) was in the front until things went south
(Photo: Robert Laberge / Getty Images North America)

26) Takuma Sato 
Another Takuma Sato moment happened. After a solid run, he hit the wall and retired. This could be substituted into the many races he's failed to finish in his Indycar career.

25) Spencer Pigot 
Spencer Pigot had a rough first and second stint, but he got racy as the laps ticked by. A mechanical issue set him back some laps, but it was good to see him finish. Hopefully we see more of Pigot in 2016.

24) Ryan Hunter-Reay 
What a bummer for Ryan Hunter-Reay. He might have had the strongest car in the field only to be taken out as an innocent victim in the pits, and by a teammate nonetheless! Such a shame.

23) Bryan Clauson 
Bryan Clauson led some laps at the Indianapolis 500!...* *He stayed out while everyone else pitted and then pitted two laps later. His best showing in the Indy 500, but he was still pretty irrelevant.

22) Matthew Brabham 
Matthew Brabham ran an okay race. As a rookie, he did his job which was to bring the car home in one piece. He seemed racy at times with cars he was around, and that was cool to see.

21) Townsend Bell 
Townsend Bell successfully got booed by our entire section. For a car as fast as his, P21 has to be heartbreaking. And this is kind of Bell's thing. He's fast during Speed Week, he qualifies either up front or in the back, he races well, but something goes wrong that ruins his chances. Bell had three incidents that pissed me off: 1) He pretty much ran Josef Newgarden into the grass when Newgarden ran underneath him. It was way too early in the race for that 2) He put Sage Karam in a position to crash and really did him no favors. It's okay to do that crap on a road course, but at Indy and at these speeds? Not cool 3) You never take out your teammate. It's even worse when it's in the pits! I'm kind of over Townsend Bell.

Indianapolis 500
One of those images that won't go away anytime soon
(Photo: Chris Graythen / Getty Images North America)

20) Gabby Chaves
Gabby Chaves didn't seem to make the most of his opportunity for Dale Coyne (who he might as well call 'God' for answering his prayers of getting a ride at Indy). He had some good scraps with Conor Daly early on, but towards the end of the race he was in no man's land. Maybe some penalties or bad pit stops or something.

19) Simon Pagenaud
Was there a more disappointing race than Simon Pagenaud? Ran up front at the beginning, then he became alive in the second stint, charging to the front. After he got a penalty, his car looked like it fell flat. Not sure if they made some funky adjustments, but he was the slowest car out there for a couple of stints. Even Buddy Lazier passed him. Two poor results at Indy for Pagenaud under the Penske banner.

18) Pippa Mann
It was an interesting race for Pippa Mann. After crashing twice in the month of May, it was hard to make heads or tails of how she would do in the race. After a couple stints, she was hanging with cars around her and making some good passes. She's the only driver I heard consistently on the hard-limiter. Still, her goal was top-15 and she finished P18. Bringing the car home in one piece has to be a victory though.

17) Alex Tagliani 
After nearly binning it in lap one, Alex Tagliani ran an okay race. Sure he led but it was off-sequence. Having said that, Tagliani is the only driver to lead a lap in every Indy 500 with the DW12.

16) Jack Hawksworth 
After having a miserable month, Jack Hawksworth had a not-so-miserable second half of the race. He had some good scraps with teammate Takuma Sato while in the top ten. P16 might be a letdown after his prior running in earlier stints, but it's never a bad thing leading your team in finishing position.

15) Max Chilton 
It is clear that Max Chilton's oval race craft still needs work. That stint where Marco Andretti couldn't go fast, it seemed like Max was the only one couldn't pass him. Other times too, Max ducked and weaved under cars but never made a move. Having said that, running on an oval this fast as a rookie and finishing with a clean nose and a respectable finishing position is good news for Max.

14) Graham Rahal 
I really thought Graham Rahal had more than P14 in him. Maybe late shakeups and pit sequences cost him some spots, but his car was fast. In the early stint or two, it seemed like he had difficulty passing cars. Once he did pass them though, he set sail and pulled away. A very "okay" result for Graham at Indy. He was lucky to finish though, as Montoya and Aleshin both spun right in front of him. How he missed them both is amazing.

13) Marco Andretti 
I can't remember what lap his disastrous stint occurred in, but Marco Andretti had one of the worst stints I could remember. He restarted P6 or so and dropped like a rock. He was getting passed by everyone and I remember seeing him get passed by a driver, and by the next lap, that driver that just passed him was a good 4-5 seconds clear. I'm amazed a) he kept it out of the wall and b) he finished on the lead lap. The dream of winning the 100th died on that stint though.

12) Oriol Servia 
You know what was a real treat? Watching Oriol Servia carve through the field after getting a penalty. He made the outside lane work better than anyone else in the field. I usually have my reservations about Servia and how I think he should retire, but after seeing him race like he did, I want more!

Indianapolis 500
Oriol Servia makes his way through debris from Sage Karam's accident
(Photo: Jamie Squire / Getty Images North America)

11) Helio Castroneves 
One of the strongest cars in the field and all Helio Castroneves got to show for it was P11. Multiple run-ins with JR Hildebrand, including damage the second time around, put his chances of winning almost to 0%. No matter what JR did though, you don't get to say, "I'm going to fucking kill him (JR)" on the radio. There's a line.

10) Will Power 
Just wasn't meant to be today for Will Power. The fact that he finished 10th amazes me. Car wasn't that good and with a penalty too, I'm quite impressed he got 10th.

9) Sebastien Bourdais 
You know who's sneaky good at Indianapolis? Sebastien Bourdais. Just when you think his P7 in 2014 was a fluke, Bourdais charged late, even getting as high as P5. I think something went wrong in the pits cause he lost a ton of spots, but he kept his head down and brought the car home P9. Overall, Bourdais should be happy with that result.

8) Scott Dixon 
Not sure I've ever seen Scott Dixon get passed more at Indy than I saw today. Having said that, Dixon still held it together and brought it home in a solid eighth place.

7) James Hinchcliffe 
All-in-all, a solid day for James Hinchcliffe. Sure he didn't win, but he brought the car home in one piece and did a flawless job in traffic. His early duel with Ryan Hunter-Reay was fantastic. Given where he was a week ago, everyone wins with Hinch back and being competitive.

6) JR Hildebrand
JR Hildebrand had a sneaky run to P6. Wasn't much of a factor until the end of the race. Solid effort, though one has to wonder seeing how Alexander Rossi handled those last four laps what could have been for Hildebrand back in 2011.

5) Charlie Kimball 
Nothing really to say about Charlie Kimball. It looked like he hit debris coming into the short shoot after Sage Karam crashed. Car seemed fine, I just thought it was a typo when I saw he finished fifth. Maybe I was too distracted by the leaders to notice is charge. Anyhow, that's back-to-back top 5s at the 500 for Kimball.

4) Tony Kanaan 
The man carrying the banner for the veterans of the field, Tony Kanaan backed up a poor result last year with a solid run and a great finish this year. He put his car in great and safe positions all race, and he really didn't put a wheel wrong.

3) Josef Newgarden 
Tip of the cap to Josef Newgarden, who has clearly figured Indy out. After three straight years of misery at Indy, Newgarden has had two great showings in a row, including an outside shot at winning the race. I'm not sure he was outside the top-six all day. Fantastic race for Josef and a guy to keep your eyes on in the future at Indy.

2) Carlos Munoz 
Carlos Munoz ran a very stealthy 160 laps just like he did in 2013 and 2014, and then he just shot out of a cannon. Seeing him come by at 199, I honestly thought he had a chance to get Alexander Rossi. One of Indy's best has to settle for second for a second time.

1) Alexander Rossi 
Cannot believe Alexander Rossi ended up winning that race. On the way back to the car, I was talking with Sammi about it. At first, I was grumbling because I don't like the guy. After thinking about it, I felt a little bad that some would think he won on BS fuel strategy (which he did), but I'm not sure if cameras showed that Rossi had one of the strongest cars out there. He passed cars left and right, and I'm not sure what was going on in the pits, but it looked like he last at least 7-12 spots every stop. Sure he won on strategy, but I don't think Rossi was an undeserving winner in the slightest. Remember, he was lightning quick in Speed Week and got bumped out of the Fast Nine at the last second on Bump Day. May not like the guy, but it was cool to hear his interview and see the smile on his face. This is a moment he will never forget.

Indianapolis 500
(Photo: Chris Graythen / Getty Images North America)

Let me know what you think!

-Matthew Hickey