Castroneves leads Indy 500 at halfway mark under third round of pit stops

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INDIANAPOLIS – Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Simon Pagenaud have been the three primary leaders thus far in the 99th Indianapolis 500, as the race reaches its halfway point of 100 laps complete, and 100 to go.

However it was Helio Castroneves who led the race after running a lap later on the third pit stop sequence at the halfway mark.

Thus far the three-time Indianapolis 500 champion has not been as on pace, or close to the lead trio, as expected. The same is true for teammate Will Power.

Following the frantic and chaotic start that saw nearly a half dozen cars taken out of contention, the race settled down for a fair bit as the leaders ran to their first stint.

Dixon, who led the majority of the opening 35 laps, was first to pit from the lead having burned more fuel out front. It’s a bit of a conundrum for Dixon, renowned as a fuel saving master, but following up on others who have struggled to save fuel once in the lead.

Any of Dixon, Pagenaud and Kanaan held the top spot until the halfway mark, before their stops.

Pagenaud’s Team Penske crew got the No. 22 Avaya Chevrolet out ahead of Dixon’s No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet on the second round of pit stops. But Kanaan got them both courtesy of a two-in-one pass for the lead into Turn 1 on Lap 73.

At Lap 100, Castroneves led from Pagenaud, Power, Dixon and Kimball.

Some big movers thus far have included Kimball (14th to fifth as of Lap 91), Juan Pablo Montoya (15th to seventh, and particularly impressive after incurring some right rear wheel guard damage early that dropped him to 30th), Graham Rahal (17th to eighth, top Honda) and NBCSN IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell (23rd to 14th in his only IndyCar start of the year).

Of note, the inside right front tire changer for Bryan Herta Autosport, Eric Wainscott, had both knees evaluated after an incident in pit lane. INDYCAR Race Control announced there would be a post-race review for the incident, involving the team’s rookie driver Gabby Chaves.

Also, the second accident of the race occurred when Bryan Clauson crashed on Lap 64 in the KVSH/Jonathan Byrd’s Racing Chevrolet exiting Turn 4.

Wainscott and Clauson were both checked, cleared and released.