INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — There were surely some parties in Colombia this weekend.
Juan Pablo Montoya roared back from some early damage sustained under caution to win his second Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, while fellow Colombian driver Gabby Chaves overcame some issues of his own late in the race to finish 16th in his debut.
“I remember being 6 years old,” Chaves said. “I woke up really early in the morning to watch (Montoya) in CART, Formula One. Congratulations to him. I’m sure the whole country is very proud and happy. Hopefully one day we can join him up there.”
Montoya needed to have his rear wing replaced early in the race after getting bumped from behind by Simona de Silvestro during a yellow flag. Chaves not only had an issue in his pit stall that resulted in a safety warning, he also had a front wing problem in the closing laps.
Chaves wound up sliding back from what could have been a top-10 finish.
“But we had a great car,” he said. “We drove through the field twice, into the top 10 twice after two mistakes. I wish I could go out there and do it again.”
Dozens of story lines unfolded during the Indianapolis 500, just as they do every year.
Here are a few to remember from the 99th running of IndyCar’s showcase race:
DOING IT FOR DIABETES: Charlie Kimball finished third behind Montoya and Will Power, the best Indy 500 finish of his career and one that could resonate with many Americans.
Kimball is a diabetic who must check his blood sugar levels throughout the race.
“All of my racing career has been about breaking down barriers, if you’ll excuse the pun, but paving new roads for drivers with diabetes,” he said. “When I meet somebody who has just been diagnosed, I always try to put as big a smile on my face — maybe not as big as what I had when I got out of the car today — but a big smile that says, ‘Welcome to the cool kids club.'”
SAGE FULL OF WISDOM: Young driver Sage Karam never finished the first lap, getting taken out during a risky maneuver by Takuma Sato before the field made it back around.
At least Karam could joke about it. After the race was over, he posted a photo of himself standing in his mangled car on Instagram. His caption accompanying it: “Didn’t even order Japanese take out and still got it. Tough day. Off to Detroit.”
His father, Jody Karam, wasn’t as polite. His tweet: “Sato = brainless idiot + dangerous.”
Sato’s team managed to fix his car, and he rallied from three laps down for 13th place.
CHEVROLET VS HONDA: The bowtie brand got the best of its rival on Sunday.
The top four cars and eight of the top 10 finishers were powered by Chevy, continuing the dominance that the American manufacturer had been having on the road courses. Graham Rahal was the top Honda with his fifth-place finish, while Marco Andretti finished in sixth.
Rahal predicted earlier in the week that Chevrolet teams would have an advantage.
“I really do have the absolute most confidence in Honda,” he said Sunday. “Obviously, we got to find some horsepower. On the road course, street course, we got to find some drivability. But at the end of the day, everybody’s working as hard as they can.”
GORDON LEADS HIS LAP: Jeff Gordon finally got his chance to start the Indianapolis 500.
The boy who grew up in nearby Pittsboro and dreamed of competing in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” piloted the pace car to the green flag. Gordon wound up watching the first few laps before catching a flight to Charlotte, North Carolina, for Sunday night’s Sprint Cup race.
Asked whether he might give the Indy 500 a shot now that he’s retiring from NASCAR, Gordon replied: “I’ll be in the Fox booth next year (as a NASCAR analyst). I’m so glad that deal worked out because I wouldn’t have a better excuse for you.”
Gordon said he felt like he lived out his dream by winning the inaugural Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, then winning it four more times — including last season.
FOUR-TIMER CLUB STILL THREE: Helio Castroneves struggled to get to the front and finished in seventh, failing once again to join the list of four-time Indy 500 winners.
Al Unser, A.J. Foyt and Rick Mears remain the only members of the club.
“It was absolutely insane,” Castroneves said of mixing it up deep in the field. “I was just happy to finish the race because those conditions were unbelievable.”
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