Fourth Turn – Race Day At The 91st Indy 500

It made for great theatre, but you have to wonder if the risk was worth it. As rain closed in for the first time Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Andretti Green Racing was in a dominant position, with four of their cars in the top-five. After a three-hour rain delay, and 51 more laps of intense competition, seven cars had crashed in three separate incidents, with Dario Franchitti?s teammate Marco Andretti enduring a wild, upside down ride down the backstretch in a spectacular shower of sparks. An earlier restart on lap 156 also cost leader and AGR teammate Tony Kanaan a chance to win when he tangled with Jacques Lazier and was forced to the pits for tires.

The fans ate up the action, and it certainly made for great TV, but what if the pressure to compete knowing the race could end at any moment, coupled with hurried changes in strategy and track conditions, had brought more serious consequences? Some asked whether the race should have been restarted given that more storms were on the way. Bunching the field at the end put these open-wheelers in a vulnerable position- race hard or race carefully?

In the end racing is about winning, with competition beating out caution?I wouldn?t be as happy if the team did well but I hadn?t won,? said Franchitti. Team-partner Michael Andretti echoed those sentiments: ?It?s still all about winning, isn?t it? That?s why we have five cars out there. Hopefully one of them is going to be in the right position.?

Today they needed five cars. A few more laps like we saw and they might not have had enough.

500 Notes:

With rain having stopped the 91st Indianapolis 500, Andretti Green Racing may have anticipated the impending rain better than the other teams due to a partnership with XM Satellite Radio. The team, which had four cars in the top-5 when the event was initially halted, and eventually won by beating a second rainstorm, has exclusive access to XM?s real time weather data, delivered trackside to team computers by satellites. The result was up-to-the-second information about the approaching storm, as well as elements that could have affected their cars? performance such as wind speed, humidity, storm cell speed and lightning. The data is overlaid on a GPS screen, allowing the team to localize the stream of data to help plan strategies. Prior to the 500, team co-owner Kim Green said,? We?re happy to have XM Weather technology available as an additional strategic tool. Racing is both an art and a science, and successful racing requires the best combination of both?Al UnserIII got a career boost Friday, finishing eighth in the Indy Pro Series? Freedom 100 at IMS. ?I just take it as it comes. Being with this team (Playa Del Racing), I have a good relationship going with them, and I may be able to be in it (the 500) next year,? said AU III. Al Jr. relishes that idea: ?That would be the biggest thrill in my life. It would just be super to race with my son. I?ve raced against my father, and unfortunately he?s reached the end of his career- so to race against my son would just be a dream- come- true for me. It would be great.?
When Marco Andretti led the race on lap 104, it represented the 1,000th leading lap by the combined Andretti family in the Indianapolis 500??Grey?s Anatomy? TV star Patrick Dempsey drove the 2007 Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car to lead the field to the green flag, but three-time race winner Johnny Rutherford did the honors during the race?After rookie Milka Duno impacted the turn one SAFER Barrier on lap 66, media room humorists named the incident a ?Milka Shake??Rookie Phil Giebler and his playa Del Racing team hope to find additional sponsorship, ?for some more races this season.? Giebler, one of two rookies in the field, blamed cold tires and a handling problem, for his lap 106 contact with the turn one barrier?Winner Franchitti, a Scotsman, is honoring fellow Scot, and 1965 500 winner Jim Clark, by dedicating a room in a cottage they?re remodeling to Clark?s memory. He and wife Ashley Judd received some Clark photos while here at the Speedway, and have assembled other Clark items to honor Franchitti?s driving hero. DF also said that he and Kanaan are getting older and have settled into married life, but said that it was, ??great to see things through Marco?s young eyes?Danica Patrick has finished on the lead lap in all three of her 500 starts?This was the seventh 500 to end under the caution flag and the eighth to have its distance shortened?Davey Hamilton and Alex Barron shared the honor for highest position advancement (11 positions) of all the drivers in the field.

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