News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 30, 2011

Field still split over double-file restarts

Rahal is a fan of them, Marco is not

Lori Wood and David Hughes
The Tribune-Star

INDIANAPOLIS — For the first time ever at the Indianapolis 500, the IZOD IndyCar Series began using double-file restarts during the race.

Initially drivers were apprehensive about it, but Graham Rahal gave it a thumbs up after finishing third Sunday.

“I thought the restarts were great,” he said. “There was a lot of passing opportunities, plenty of excitement,”

In the final restart, Rahal passed 10 cars, seven for position.

Marco Andretti, who came in ninth, offered another view.

“I’m going to be very frank about that and say they are trying to kill somebody,” he said. “I’m glad it’s great for the fans, but the risk where we’re at is just ridiculous.”

I I I

• Side notes — Four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt drove the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible pace car with Indianapolis Motor Speedway chairman of the board Mari Hulman George riding in the passenger seat before the race.

Three-time Indy winner Johnny Rutherford drove the same car during caution periods.

• Retired Col. Bruce P. Crandall, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, served as honorary starter for the race.

“I love the great atmosphere, the buzz, here at the Speedway,” Crandall mentioned.

• Danica Patrick had the highest placing among the four female drivers, finishing 10th after qualifying 25th.

Patrick led 10 laps late in the race in trying to become the first woman to ever win the Indy 500.

Other women who competed Sunday were Pippa Mann (20th), Ana Beatriz (21st) and Simona de Silvestro (31st).

• Dan Wheldon’s winning car No. 98 has reached the winner’s circle two other times — in 1952 with Troy Ruttman and 1963 with Parnelli Jones.

• This is the fourth consecutive year that Panther Racing has finished second, this time doing so with rookie J.R. Hildebrand.

• Seal, Kelly Clarkson and David Foster combined to perform the National Anthem.

• Ten different drivers led the 200 laps of this race, led by Scott Dixon with 73 laps.

Others were Dario Franchitti (51), pole-sitter Alex Tagliani (20), Oriol Servia (18), Bertrand Baguette (11), Patrick (10), Hildebrand (seven), Rahal (six), Ed Carpenter (three) and winner Wheldon (one).