Tonight’s IndyCar Series season finale at Auto Club Speedway ran caution-free for the first 70 laps. That fact seems all the more strange considering the amount of mayhem that ensued during the remainder of the MAV TV 500.
The yellow flag came out seven times at Fontana for a total of 55 laps, more than a fifth of the 250-lap race. Additionally, the final four caution periods fell within the last 60 laps.
11 drivers were knocked out of the race due to contact, with a large portion of that contingent coming from the six-car pileup on Lap 111 (see above) that sent Justin Wilson to the hospital after he was hit by an oncoming Tristan Vautier.
At last update from INDYCAR, Wilson will be kept overnight for observation at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, California (east of ACS) after suffering non-operable pelvic fractures and a small pulmonary contusion.
The incident also took out Oriol Servia, Josef Newgarden and James Jakes – all of whom, plus Vautier, later spoke to NBCSN about the incident from their perspectives.
Also sidelined because of contact were Pippa Mann, Sebastian Saavedra, Carlos Munoz, Alex Tagliani and A.J. Allmendinger. Mann and Saavedra were involved in a Lap 71 crash that saw Saavedra spin and crash in Turn 3 and Mann clout the wall while trying to evade him.
As for Munoz, who took over for E.J. Viso in the No. 5 Andretti Autosport Chevrolet after the Venezuelan became ill, he once again showed off his fearlessness with some hair-raising moves in the first half of the race.
But the excitement came to a halt on Lap 101, when he got loose and hit the Turn 2 wall.
“In the end, I just lost the car,” said Munoz, who finished second for Andretti in this year’s Indy 500. “It snapped, and I couldn’t do anything. It was my first crash on an oval, but there’s always going to be a first time.”
Mechanical issues were also prevalent tonight at Fontana, with Charlie Kimball, J.R. Hildebrand, Simon Pagenaud, Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato all bowing out before the finish due to assorted gremlins.