Indy 500 results: Andretti P6 in tough day for team; Hildebrand leads one-offs


INDIANAPOLIS – Beyond the top five and the couple other stories of note for drivers that ran in the top five yesterday (Tony Kanaan, Simon Pagenaud), here are a few other results of note at the end of Sunday’s 99th Indianapolis 500:

  • Marco Andretti ended sixth in the No. 27 Snapple Honda, for his seventh Indianapolis 500 top-10 finish in 10 starts. It led the five-car Andretti Autosport contingent on a tough day; teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay, Simona de Silvestro, Carlos Munoz and Justin Wilson ended 15th, 19th, 20th, and 21st, with the latter two coming up short on a late-race fuel gamble. Said Andretti, “It was a frustrating 500 miles, we lost some track position in the pits and I lost some more out on the track. It was just a hard fight to keep the car balanced, let alone try to win.”
  • JR Hildebrand ended eighth to lead the one-off drivers, in the No. 6 Preferred Freezer CFH Racing Chevrolet. Hildebrand ebbed and flowed between sixth and 17th after starting 10th. “I, along with a lot of other guys, was just hanging on for the first couple of stints. We had some dicing around in the pits, the stops kind of went both ways for us as we got through the race,” he said.
  • Hildebrand’s teammate Josef Newgarden ended ninth, for his best Indianapolis 500 result. Charlie Kimball (third) and Takuma Sato (13th) also either set or equaled their best ‘500 result.
  • Gabby Chaves ran as high as 10th and ended 16th to be top rookie (of two) in the field. A further post on him will come later this week.
  • The other one-off or month-of-May only results: Ryan Briscoe 12th, Townsend Bell 14th, Alex Tagliani 17th, de Silvestro 19th, Wilson 21st, Pippa Mann 22nd, Sebastian Saavedra 23rd, James Davison 27th, Tristan Vautier 28th, Bryan Clauson 31st and Conor Daly 33rd.
  • Daly is the first race starter to retire from a mechanical failure before the green flag since, ironically, his team owner Sam Schmidt (blown engine) and Alessandro Zampedri (oil leak) in the 35-car, rain-delayed 1997 Indianapolis 500 (race also featured an accident involving Affonso Giaffone, Stephane Gregoire and Kenny Brack before the green flag).
  • Meanwhile Sage Karam is the first driver to retire on the first lap from an accident since Davey Hamilton in 2010. Karam’s wreck was more reminiscent of the Mario Moraes/Marco Andretti crash exiting Turn 1 a year earlier, in 2009.

Roger Penske vows new downtown Detroit GP will be bigger than the Super Bowl for city


DETROIT – He helped spearhead bringing the town a Super Bowl 17 years ago, but Roger Penske believes the reimagined Chevrolet Detroit GP is his greatest gift to the Motor City.

“It’s bigger than the Super Bowl from an impact within the city,” Penske told NBC Sports. “Maybe not with the sponsors and TV, but for the city of Detroit, it’s bigger than the Super Bowl.

“We’ve got to give back individually and collectively, and I think we as a company in Michigan and in Detroit, it’s something we know how to do. It shows we’re committed. Someone needs to take that flag and run it down through town. And that’s what we’re trying to do as a company. We’re trying to give back to the city.”

After 30 years of being run on Belle Isle, the race course has been moved to a new nine-turn, 1.7-mile downtown layout that will be the centerpiece of an event weekend that is designed to promote a festival and community atmosphere.

There will be concerts in the adjacent Hart Plaza. Local businesses from Detroit’s seven districts have been invited to hawk their wares to new clientele. Boys and Girls Clubs from the city have designed murals that will line the track’s walls with images of diversity, inclusion and what Detroit means through the eyes of youth.

And in the biggest show of altruism, more than half the circuit will be open for free admission. The track is building 4-foot viewing platforms that can hold 150 people for watching the long Jefferson Avenue straightaway and other sections of the track.

Detroit GP chairman Bud Denker, a longtime key lieutenant across Penske’s various companies, has overseen more than $20 million invested in infrastructure.

The race is essentially Penske’s love letter to the city where he made much of his fame as one of Detroit’s most famous automotive icons, both as a captain of industry with a global dealership network and as a racing magnate (who just won his record 19th Indy 500 with Josef Newgarden breaking through for his first victory on the Brickyard oval).

During six decades in racing, Penske, 86, also has run many racetracks (most notably Indianapolis Motor Speedway but also speedways in Michigan, California and Pennsylvania), and much of that expertise has been applied in Detroit.

“And then the ability for us to reach out to our sponsor base, and then the business community, which Bud is tied in with the key executives in the city of Detroit, bringing them all together,” Penske said. “It makes a big difference.

“The Super Bowl is really about the people that fly in for the Super Bowl. It’s a big corporate event, and the tickets are expensive. And the TV is obviously the best in the world. What we’ve done is taken that same playbook but made it important to everyone in Detroit. Anyone that wants to can come to the race for free, can stand on a platform or they can buy a ticket and sit in the grandstands or be in a suite. It’s really multiple choice, but it is giving it to the city of Detroit. I think it’s important when you think of these big cities across the country today that are having a lot of these issues.”

Denker said the Detroit Grand Prix is hoping for “an amazingly attended event” but is unsure of crowd estimates with much of the track offering free viewing. The race easily could handle a crowd of at least 50,000 daily (which is what the Movement Music Festival draws in Hart Plaza) and probably tens of thousands more in a sprawling track footprint along the city’s riverwalk.

Penske is hoping for a larger crowd than Belle Isle, which was limited to about 30,000 fans daily because of off-site parking and restricted fan access at a track that was located in a public park.

The downtown course will have some unique features, including a “split” pit lane on an all-new concrete (part of $15 million spent on resurfaced roads, new barriers and catchfencing … as well as 252 manhole covers that were welded down).

A $5 million, 80,000-square-foot hospitality chalet will be located adjacent to the paddock and pit area. The two-story structure, which was imported from the 16th hole of the Waste Management Open in Phoenix, will offer 70 chalets (up from 23 suites at Belle Isle last year). It was built by InProduction, the same company that installed the popular HyVee-branded grandstands and suites at Iowa Speedway last year.

Penske said the state, city, county and General Motors each owned parts of the track, and their cooperation was needed to move streetlights and in changing apexes of corners. Denker has spent the past 18 months meeting with city council members who represent Detroit’s seven districts, along with Mayor Mike Duggan. Penske said the local support could include an appearance by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Witmer.

Denker and Detroit GP  president Michael Montri were inspired to move the Detroit course downtown after attending the inaugural Music City Grand Prix in Nashville, Tennessee.

“We saw what an impact it made on that city in August of 2021 and we came back from there and said boy could it ever work to bring it downtown in Detroit again,” Denker said. “We’ve really involved the whole community of Detroit, and the idea of bringing our city together is what the mayor and city council and our governor are so excited about. The dream we have is now coming to fruition.

“When you see the infrastructure downtown and the bridges over the roads we’ve built and the graphics, and everything is centered around the Renaissance Center as your backdrop, it’s just amazing.”