Monday, May 30, 2011

500 Recap: The Top 10

With the Centennial Anniversary 500 in the books and a wild finish to consider, let's look at the Top 10 finishers from yesterday's race, counting down from P10 to our winner.

10) Danica Patrick: Danica may have received mixed boos and cheers on her introduction again this year, but the crowd was plenty fired up to see her lead late in the race. Again, she did a nice job of having a clean race and moving up slowly when she could.

9) Marco Andretti: Marco snuck up towards the front several times, but got shuffled back each time, it seemed. It really didn't seem like he had one of the better cars out there, but considering the month Andretti Autosport had, this was a pretty solid result.

8) Tomas Scheckter: In partial consequence of his Top 10 result, it sounds like Redline might be putting T-Scheck in a couple more races this year (at least Texas, which has been confirmed). This was an excellent run by Tomas, aggressive and entertaining without being reckless. Did anyone see his 4-wide pass through the marbles to pass three cars? Amazing.

7) Bertrand Baguette: One caution is all it would have taken. Someone crashes on Lap 195 or so, and Bertrand Baguette is your Indy 500 winner. Baguette repeatedly fought his way back towards the front, and was just a few laps away from giving RLLR a winner. Let's hope we see him back in IndyCar soon; the maturity and aptitude he's shown in the past year have really been a big plus.

6) Oriol Servia: It seemed as if Servia's car fell off a bit in the latter stages of the race, but he legitimately led laps and stayed in contention most of the day. There's a reason Servia is 3rd in the standings, only 42 points back, and that's consistency.

5) Scott Dixon: Fifth place in an ultra-competitive field is no crime, but after the dominant day Scott Dixon and teammate Dario Franchitti had, for one of those two not to win has to be disappointing. It sounds as if he was short-fueled on his last stop, which after having their issues with in qualifying is especially terrible. Dixon called the fueling decision "stupid" in his post-race interview, and he probably does have a killer headache this morning.

4) Tony Kanaan: TK gave the crowd more thrills, charging hard late in the race, but this wasn't to be his year (again). The fans at Indy love him, and you have to appreciate how he's done after not even having a team just a scant few weeks before the opening race of the season.

3) Graham Rahal: After a slow start to his season, Graham Rahal has put together two really impressive drives. Due in part to start near the back and being lapped early, he passed a jaw-dropping 67 cars on his way to third place.

2) JR Hildebrand: Hildebrand suffered one of the greatest disappointments any of us will ever see at Indy, smacking the wall with only a few hundred yards between him and his goal. Yet the rookie handled it with as much grace and sportsmanship as you'll ever see. He may have lost the race, but he gained a legion of new fans through his behavior.

1) Dan Wheldon: Wheldon led a single lap, but that's all he needed. On one of the smallest teams, in a one-shot program, against perhaps the deepest field in the last fifteen years, he put himself in a position to win when Hildebrand lost it in Turn 4. It's simply a remarkable accomplishment, however you look at it. Wheldon is an all-time Indy great, and he proved it amply today.

Our Champion.
Image courtesy of IndyCar Media

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