On a sweltering day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when records for on-track action and heat were shattered, Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR) rookie drivers Josef Newgarden and Bryan Clauson both received some tough love from the storied track.
Josef Newgarden started his first Indianapolis 500 in the seventh position as the highest qualifying Honda-powered driver.
Newgarden’s teammate Bryan Clauson had a clean start from the 31st position until his luck changed on lap 14.
As Clauson exited Turn 1, his No. 39 SFHR/Curb Agajanian Dallara/Honda/Firestone car spun. He managed not to hit anything, but his car struggled after the incident.
“My car wasn’t good after the spin,” Clauson said. “We were struggling with the handling and couldn’t get much speed out of it after that.”
Clauson was able to rejoin the race, but had to retire permanently after completing 46 laps. He finished in 30th position.
Newgarden pitted for the first time after Clauson’s spin, but stalled in the pits and lost valuable track position.
“We had a couple of issues trying to get gears in the pits, which put us back in a bad position,” Newgarden said.
The No. 67 SFHR/Dollar General Dallara/Honda/Firestone car fell a lap down and Newgarden went on to battle an ill-handling race car. Despite struggling in traffic, he managed to earn his lap back.
“We were struggling from the start,” Newgarden said. “We got really lucky when we got our lap back. We just kept pounding on the laps and finally got it.”
Just when things started to look up however, the No. 67 car rolled to a stop on the back straightaway with no power. Newgarden received a tow back to pit lane, but his team was unable to restart his car.
“After we finally felt like we were in the mix again with getting our lap back, that’s when we lost power,” Newgarden said. “It’s just unfortunate that we didn’t get to finish the race.”
The No. 67 SFHR/Dollar General car ended the day in 25th position.
Dario Franchitti won the race after starting 16th. It was Franchitti’s third Indy 500 victory, all three of which ended under caution.
Franchitti entered Turn 1 with two laps remaining in the race side-by-side with Takuma Sato. Unfortunately, the pair touched wheels sending Sato spinning into the wall, bringing out the yellow and white flags and allowing Franchitti to coast to victory.
Scott Dixon finished second, followed by Tony Kanaan, Oriol Servia and Ryan Briscoe. Marco Andretti set the fastest lap of the race at 220.172 mph and also led the most laps of any driver (59).
The 500-mile race was completed with an average pace of 167.734 mph. There were eight caution periods for a total of 39 caution laps.
The front of the racing pack was dicey as the lead changed hands a record-setting 34 times. The race also set a record for the hottest-ever in history with a high temperature of 93 degrees.
The IZOD IndyCar Series returns to action June 3 for the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix.