SPEEDWAY – Ryan Hunter-Reay led a strong team effort by Andretti Autosport by holding off Helio Castroneves to win the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500.
Following a red flag to repair the safer barrier in Turn 2, Huunter-Reay led the field to a six-lap shootout chased by Castroneves and teammate Marco Andretti.
The two drivers swapped the lead four times over the final five laps Sunday with Hunter-Reay taking the point on Lap 199 with an outside pass of Castroneves on the front straight.
Hunter-Reay won by .06-seconds denying Castroneves his record-tying fourth Indy 500 win. It was the second closest finish in the history of the Indianapolis 500.
He becomes the first American to win the Indy 500 since Sam Hornish Jr. won in 2006. Hunter-Reay also becomes the third winner for team owner Michael Andretti joining Dan Wheldon in 2005 and Dario Franchitti in 2007.
Hunter-Reay led 12 times, taking the lead for the first time on Lap 94, after starting 19th on the grid.
“My dream has come true today and I’m a proud American boy,” he said after pulling into the winner’s circle for the traditional drink of milk.
“Everything everybody was doing at the end was all new,” he said. “I didn’t know if we had what it took but I’ve got a great team behind me.”
Although they didn’t qualify well, Hunter-Reay said they had a good car for the race, evidenced by his leading 56 of the 200 laps.
“This is a dream come true,” he added. “I’ve watched this race since I was in diapers in front of the television. My son did it today.”
Hunter-Reay said everyone was racing each other hard but clean over the final six laps.
“We came so close, but today was (Ryan) Hunter-Reay’s,” Castroneves said. “I wanted it so bad (fourth win).