Chevrolet has dominated the opening half of the MAVTV 500, the final round of the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season (LIVE on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra). The race was under caution at the 125-lap mark due to a six-car accident through Turns 1 and 2 (details further below).
First polesitter Will Power, then Sebastien Bourdais and Ryan Hunter-Reay, have had turns in the lead of the race. For most of the opening 75 laps in the 250-lap race, Chevrolet runners had a full lockdown of the top 10 positions.
The first caution flew on lap 70 when two unrelated incidents happened at the same time in Turns 1 and 2. Sebastian Saavedra lost control of his Dragon Racing Chevrolet and crashed; meanwhile Pippa Mann, who was running behind him, went high to try to avoid the spinning car and wound up contacting the wall herself. The damage was enough to put both drivers out of the race.
Helio Castroneves took the lead from Hunter-Reay on the Lap 82 restart, only for a lap though before Marco Andretti assumed the top spot a lap later after a move on the high side through Turn 4. Still, the lap led for Castroneves is a crucial bonus point as he seeks to close down on Scott Dixon for the championship.
Castroneves, Andretti, Hunter-Reay, Bourdais and Tony Kanaan battled for the lead from that point forward.
Carlos Munoz, who won the Indy Lights race earlier Saturday and had been a passing star throughout the race on the low side, lost control on Lap 100 when he finally got too low through Turns 1 and 2. He had his left side wheels below the white line, lost control and went up the road and into the wall. He narrowly avoided the Team Penske trio of Castroneves, Power and AJ Allmendinger as he came back off the wall onto the apron exiting Turn 2, where his damaged car came to a rest.
Through the first 100 laps there were seven leaders and 10 lead changes.
The restart after the Munoz shunt occurred on Lap 109 with Castroneves back in the lead, and JR Hildebrand issued a drive-through penalty for a pit lane infraction. The Barracuda Racing driver had been the highest running Honda most of the first half.
The green flag didn’t last long with a fairly large accident on Lap 111 involving six cars, the third caution of the race.
Justin Wilson spun in the Dale Coyne Racing No. 19 Honda in-between Turns 1 and 2, which triggered a domino effect behind him. Josef Newgarden moved high to avoid Wilson, but in doing so, collected Oriol Servia, who went even higher through Turns 1 and 2.
As Wilson went up the road, he was collected by Tristan Vautier, who was trying to avoid the incident as well. Simona de Silvestro and James Jakes also arrived on the scene and were unable to avoid the accidents despite attempts to do so. De Silvestro is still running and was not eliminated in the chaos.
Wilson was still in his car as IndyCar’s medical team tended to him after the accident, while the other drivers involved all got out of their cars. The Englishman was put on a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance, but took off his helmet on his own per team owner Dale Coyne to NBCSN pit reporter Marty Snider.
All of Servia, Newgarden, Vautier and Jakes spoke to NBCSN’s Kevin Lee outside the medical center and explained their respective vantage points:
“I was just behind Justin, I saw him getting loose, so I went high which was good, because I was gonna miss him, Josef tried to miss Justin and collected me. We’re all fighting for little real estate. Josef was trying not to T-bone Justin,” said Servia.
“I guess I was the first one to see im spin. Oriol was outside, I wanted to get out of his way, got into Servia,” said Newgarden.
“I didn’t see him before I hit him. There was a big cloud of smoke. Didn’t see what was happening,” Vautier said.
And from Jakes: “We were on the outside and in the smoke you lose perception of everything. We lost our vision and then I got hit with the debris. Tough after starting fifth.”
An update from INDYCAR Medical Director Michael Olinger to Lee said that Wilson was awake, alert, and transported via ground to a local hospital after reporting back soreness.
Under the caution, Power pitted to have his visor on his helmet change – the polesitter had reportedly run out of tear-offs.