(Photos: IndyCar media; Rossi photo Getty Images)

While Alexander Rossi was top rookie finisher in Indy 500, four others had mixed results

Leave a comment

While Alexander Rossi’s win in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 was nothing short of a fairytale come true for the rookie California driver, the story was not as heartening for the four other rookies in the 33-driver field.

Max Chilton, Matt Brabham, Spencer Pigot and Stefan Wilson joined Rossi in the rookie class of 2016, with mixed results for the other four first-timers in the 500.

Let’s take a look at how each of the other four rookies fared and what their post-race thoughts were about their first go-round in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing:

Max Chilton

MAX CHILTON (No. 8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet), finished 15th (second-highest rookie finisher), completed all 200 laps: “It was a long race. It feels like three races in one. I learned so much out there today. It’s the craziest start of a race I’ve ever done in my life. There are moments where you’re hanging on for your life. There are also moments where you are absolutely flying and I wish I’d had another 100 laps to go. The Gallagher team did a great job with all the pit stops. I don’t think we were ever in a position to fight for the lead, but I learned a lot and will come back stronger next time.”

Matt Brabham

MATT BRABHAM (No. 61 PIRTEK Team Murray Chevrolet, finished 22nd, completed 199 of 200 laps): “It is incredible to think that we finished this race; out there was a little surreal to be honest. It was an amazing experience to be in the 100th Indy 500 race and now I can say that I have finished the Indianapolis 500 and I am the third generation of Brabham to do that. It is special to think that there have only been three families during the 100-year history of this race to do that. The PIRTEK Team Murray Chevrolet was good all day. During some of the stints it developed a vibration. In the middle of the race there, I was able to make up eight places, which was a really great feeling. I’m happy that we got through and that we were able to put on a good show. I can’t thank the guys from PIRTEK, the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation, Speedcafe.com, all the other sponsors and of course ‘Crusher’ (owner Brett Murray) who has developed this phenomenal program that gave me the opportunity to be in this race. Let’s hope we can have an opportunity to do more again.”

JDC_100INDY_0172-A

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 16 RLL/Mi-Jack/Manitowoc Honda, finished 25th, completed 195 of 200 laps): “The race was pretty eventful; it was pretty crazy out there. We continued to make the car better. We were struggling on the first stint but got it better throughout the race. We made some changes on the wings and we could definitely pass a bit better and run closer as the stints went on so I was pleased with that. But unfortunately we ran out of fuel on the back straight on a yellow that came out and closed the pits just as we were running out. I got stuck there and had to get pulled in and lost a few laps. Overall it was a great experience and I am glad we were able to finish the race. I think we had the potential to finish somewhere around 15th. I want to give a big thanks to all of the guys for their great stops and hard work for the Indy500 and to Manitowoc, Mi-Jack, Grove and everyone for their support.”

41BK4327

STEFAN WILSON (No. 25 Driven2SaveLives – KVRT Chevrolet, finished 28th, completed 119 laps of 200): “(It’s) disappointing to not be able to bring home the No. 25 Driven2SaveLives car and make it to the finish. Unfortunately, a fuel leak started happening maybe on the 100th lap and caused an electrical fire that disabled the gearbox. So when we went on that final restart during Lap 104, it wouldn’t shift out of third gear. We tried to solve the issue and took the car back to the garage, came back out and the issue persisted so we had to call it a day. … I think we would’ve been in really good shape, we could’ve brought home a top-15 finish today but you know, that’s racing – there’s always mishaps and unfortunately that’s what happened today. Overall, it was a good month, we ran a lot of laps and I’ve learned a lot about running an Indy car here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I think that’s going to help me in future years if I’m able to come back here and race again. I know now what I want to achieve from the car handling and I think if I do come back next year, I’m already so far developed from where I started just under two weeks ago. It seems as though a lot of time has passed but it’s crazy to think it has only been two weeks.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Supercross points leader Eli Tomac finds silver linings in interruption

Leave a comment

Though his Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship charge was put on hold, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had a silver lining for Eli Tomac.

Off the road while the season was postponed for nearly three months, the points leader was able to be present as his girlfriend, Jessica, gave birth to their daughter, Lev, on April 26

“A huge blessing for us there,” Tomac told host Mike Tirico during a “Lunch Talk Live” interview (click on the video above) in which he also joked about becoming a pro at busting off diaper changes. “That was one good blessing for us as we had our daughter on a Sunday, that would have been on a travel day coming back from the race in Las Vegas.

NBCSN

“That was probably the only positive out of all this mess was being able to be there for the birth.”

But there also could be more good fortune for Tomac as the series resumes Sunday at Salt Lake City, Utah (3-4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, 4-6 p.m. on NBC).

The final seven events will be held over 22 days in Rice-Eccles Stadium, which sits at just over 4,000 feet.

The elevation could favor Tomac, who was born and lives in Colorado and is accustomed to riding and training at altitude, which is a departure for many Supercross riders (many of whom hail from California and Florida).

COVID-19 TESTING REQUIRED: Supercross outlines protocols for last seven races

“That’s going to be the test for us,” said the Kawasaki rider, who five of the first 10 races this season. “We’re at elevation in Salt Lake, so when you’re on a motorcycle, you have a little bit of a loss of power. That’s just what happens when you come up in elevation. And a lot of guys train at sea level, and we’re at 4,000 to 5,000 feet, so cardio-wise, we’ll be pushed to the limit.

“Most of our races are Saturday nights and back to back weeks, but this go around it’s Sunday and Wednesday, so recovery is going to be key.”

Supercross will race Sunday and Wednesday for the next three weeks, capping the season with the June 21 finale, which also will be shown on NBCSN from 3-4:30 p.m. ET and NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

Tomac, who holds a three-point lead over Ken Roczen (who also recently visited “Lunch Talk Live”), told Tirico he had been riding for 90 minutes Thursday morning on a track outside Salt Lake City.

“Most of us we can rely on our past riding pretty well,” Tomac said. “The question is if you can go the distance. That’s what a lot of guys have to train on is going the distance. We go 20 minutes plus a lap. That’s what you’ve got to keep sharp is your general muscles. Within two to three days, your brain starts warming up more if you take a few weeks off the motorcycle.”

Here is the schedule and TV information for the rest of the season:

  • Sunday, May 31 (3-4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4-6 p.m. ET, NBC);
  • Wednesday, June 3 ( 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).
Eli Tomac rides his No. 3 Kawasaki in the Feb. 29 race at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia (Charles Mitchell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).