What IndyCar drivers said after the 104th Indianapolis 500

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INDIANAPOLIS — Recapping what NTT IndyCar Series drivers said after Sunday’s 104th Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where Takuma Sato became the 20th driver to win more than once in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing:

First — Takuma Sato (No. 30 Panasonic/PeopleReady Honda): “Obviously, we pitted (a lap) short from Dixie (Scott Dixon). The fuel strategy was a bit tight. I saw Scott was coming right through out of Turn 4, and he was screaming coming at me. And I just held him off. Thank you so much. This was the entire Rahal Letterman Lanigan team. HPD and Honda gave us a lot of power, a lot of fuel mileage. And my boys … they sacrifice a lot. I can’t thank all of the people (enough).”

Second — Scott Dixon (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda):This is a hard one to swallow. On fuel mileage, I really can’t see how (Takuma) Sato was going to make it. We pitted a lap later, and the numbers they had to get, it was going to be very difficult. I thought they were going to throw a red flag, which would have been interesting for the last four or five laps. Huge congrats to Sato. He drove his pants off today. Rahal Letterman Lanigan, they were super fast, obviously P1 and P3. It was a good day for Honda. I want to give a massive thank you to them. We’re very proud to be powered by HPD and Honda, and it’s nice to get some points. But it’s hard when it slips away like that.”

Third — Graham Rahal (No. 15 United Rentals/Fifth Third Bank Honda):

Fourth — Santino Ferrucci (No. 18 SealMaster Honda): “Just an incredible race. The SealMaster Honda was insane today. We started 19th and finished fourth. The guys worked really hard on pit lane, on the timing stand, and the strategy was perfect. I’m just really happy. After two incredibly long weeks of focusing on the SealMaster car, we ended really good. During the first pit stop, I got caught in neutral, and it was like a blessing in disguise. It set us way back, but the momentum we had just carried us. On the restart, we went from 25th right back into the top 10, where we needed to be, and we just fought our way into the top four.”

Fifth — Josef Newgarden (No. 1 Shell V-Power Nitro Team Penske Chevrolet): “It’s disappointing, for sure. Our Shell V-Power Nitro Chevrolet was fast. It was really, really good. We were just taking our time. My boys in the pits were on it today. They made us up spots on every single pit stop. We put ourselves in position there at the end of the race, which is all you can ask for. We actually came in with Sato on that last stop and maybe we should have went one lap longer. But in the end, we were a little behind the eight ball on the final stint. We were working to unhandcuff ourselves. I’m proud of everyone, though; they fought hard. I can’t thank Shell and Team Chevy enough for all the support they give us. We just didn’t have what we needed. We were in position but couldn’t capitalize to take advantage of it. Congrats to Takuma (Sato) on the win. Just wish we were up there battling him for it.”

Sixth — Pato O’Ward (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “The No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP team did everything we could to get to the front today. My crew did an amazing job in the pit stops. We were fighting up there with (Scott) Dixon, (Alexander) Rossi and Takuma (Sato) – great job to him. Toward the end, we just didn’t have enough to get those in front of us. I think we juiced out the car and got everything out of it. We were right behind Josef in fifth for Chevrolet, so I think it was a good job for my first-ever Indy 500. Obviously, here the only thing that matters is winning. I’m excited to come back next year and try and get that win, as this place is pretty special. For now, just collecting and move onto Gateway.”

Seventh — James Hinchcliffe (No. 29 Genesys Honda): “It’s funny: You see, ‘Start seventh, finish sixth,’ and it sounds like a basic day, but it really wasn’t that for us. We had a little problem on our second pit stop, couldn’t get the car in gear and went all the way to back of the lead lap. From there, it was just kind of damage control. That was before halfway, and I got on the radio, ‘Hey, look it’s a long race, and a lot can happen.’ Luckily, on that last restart, we just got a monster restart and picked off a couple cars. The No. 29 Genesys Honda was strong. It’s just so hard when you get further back in that line. We were ahead of Pato (O’Ward) and Josef (Newgarden) before that stop. If we had been able to keep that track position, there’s a chance we could’ve had a solid top-five run. All in all, really happy with the month for jumping in as the extra car. I can’t thank Andretti Autosport and Genesys enough. It’s been a lot of fun being back here and being back at the Speedway. I think for a partial season coming to a close here like that, it’s not bad.”

Eighth — Colton Herta (No. 88 Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana Honda): “It was an OK race. The Gleaners Honda car performed well. We didn’t have enough for the win but happy with how the team performed. We had great stops, as usual. We’ll just move on and focus on next weekend.”

Ninth — Jack Harvey (No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda): “Coming into the month, we were pretty confident in what we could achieve. It’s always special getting a good result in Indy. Obviously, everyone comes to try and win, but I am so proud of where we finished. I am so proud of the guys on pit lane; they absolutely nailed it. We had some really great restarts, which helped us, as well. A big thanks to AutoNation and SiriusXM. I’m just really happy; it’s a really great day.”

10th — Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28 DHL Honda): “We came away with a top 10, but that doesn’t reflect the potential of the DHL Honda today. We built a car to run in the front, and that’s where we should have been in the end. The car had the pace. I drove a clean race; we just didn’t get it done. Sometimes races are won and lost on the track, and sometimes they are won and lost in the pits. We had the first part covered, but unfortunately the latter is what wrote our story today.”

11th — Helio Castroneves (No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet): “I miss this thing so much. I know I didn’t finish in the top 10. One spot behind, but let me tell you, what a great group of guys. They did a phenomenal job today. The No. 3 Pennzoil Chevrolet was not the strongest car out there, but we fought from 28th all the way up to 11th , and we did everything we could. Obviously, we tried to take our chances with some of the yellows, and it didn’t work out. It was very difficult to pass, however, and we hung on, and a top 11 was the best we could do. Again, I miss everyone. This was awesome, but now on to the next page and on to Road Atlanta (for the IMSA race).”

12th — Felix Rosenqvist (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “We finished in P12, which was two positions better than where we started. I think we had a car that could do more today. I think I am still figuring out how to work the ovals. I think that is the biggest Achilles’ heel in our operation right now on the No. 10 car. The second half of the race felt really good. I think if we had the whole race, we would have been further up, for sure. I just want to thank the No. 10 NTT DATA Honda crew. They did an outstanding job in the pits and with strategy. Everything worked today when we needed it to. I felt we peaked out at the end of the race there. It’s not something to cheer for, but it was a good finish. We got through it, and we’ll have to come back stronger next year.”

13th — Marco Andretti (No. 98 U.S. Concrete / Curb Honda): “We had high hopes coming into the race today after being fast all month. But we didn’t have it today. We didn’t have the pickup we needed on the restarts. That left us a sitting duck, and we weren’t able to gain ground on pit stops to make up for anything. Everything combined left us 13th.”

14th — Will Power (No. 12 Verizon 5G Edge Team Penske Chevrolet): “Obviously, we made our way all the way up to eighth with really good restarts. And then I feel like I got too good of a restart, so I was almost touching Colton (Herta) in Turn 4 and had to pull out to the outside. There is no draft there, and about three guys blew by me and then I got pushed wide in Turn 1. And yeah, and the bad stop didn’t help us there – my bad. But I wanted to thank Verizon and Chevrolet for everything. Chevrolet gave us a great engine. My guys worked really hard all month, and I just really have to thank them for everything. We’re going to refocus for Gateway and work on that.”

15th — Zach Veach (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda): “I’m really proud of the effort my whole Gainbridge crew has done the past two weeks. Today has been my best Indy 500, by far. We took a gamble there at the end. If a yellow would have come out, we would have been in a great position to win. If we wouldn’t have taken that gamble, we would have probably finished 12th or 13th , but I’d rather try to win than just sit there. Our car was a bit too aggressive during the first three-four stints. That was kind of the issue of moving forward, but it was right where it needed to be at the end. All in all, it was a great race car but missed it at the end. I am still happy with our overall 2020 Indy 500.”

16th — J.R. Hildebrand (No. 67 DRR Salesforce Chevrolet): “The car was a huge handful at the beginning of the race. I almost spun out on the first lap. It was a bummer because I found some passing lanes in the middle of the fuel stint. But I couldn’t get to those lanes when I wanted to. Unfortunately, the car was twitchy early in the race. And we went for a different fuel strategy, and the boys got the car working better throughout the day. I felt I got the feel of the car better as the race went on today. We knew the track temps were going up, and we needed to make adjustments with every pit stop. I was working the trim switches and various items to help the car roll into the corners better. We were good to go to the end on fuel, and we might have picked up some additional spots if others had to pit. But with yellow to the checkered, that didn’t happen. I hope Spencer (Pigot) is OK. That was a huge hit at the end. I just missed a few of the crashes today. I was dodging a number of incidents. We made the right calls today with our strategy. But we just missed a few things that would have improved our finish. Overall, the DRR guys worked really hard this month, and we gained more information when we return. At least we made up half the field, going from 32nd to 16th today.”

17th — Max Chilton (No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet): “It was a long race, but it always is around here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I tried my best out there, and the whole team did a great job today. We really worked on making the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet better throughout the race. Every pit stop we were changing something, whether it was the front or rear wings, and I was working with the weight jacker and the bars pretty much every lap. We had great pit stops all race, and we tried to change up the strategy a little bit. And at the end of the day, we were a big climber. I think we were the fourth-highest climber of the day, coming from 30th up to 17th , which isn’t bad at all, and we brought the car home in one piece, which on a 500-mile race is extremely important when you want to be in it to win it at the end. We’ve struggled for speed all month, but today was a massive improvement, and I’m excited to come back and try again for an even better result next year.”

18th — Charlie Kimball (No. 4 Tresiba AJ Foyt Enterprises Chevrolet): “It was a tough fighting day for the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet team. Starting in the back on the 10th row, we just had to pick our way through, and we did. We were making forward progress. The car was quite a handful there in the middle of the race. We found something, we made it better. I think we were probably going to finish in the top 15, but it was such a track-position race today. It was so hard to pass out there. The nice thing is the AJ Foyt Racing boys gave me a few spots in pit lane, and then unfortunately I made a mistake in that last stop in pit lane and gave it all back. But they were great, and I could always count on (them) going forward when I was coming into pit lane, so that’s a big positive out of today. We’ll go back and look at how we make the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet better when we come back here next year and also what we look to learn to carry into Gateway next weekend.”

19th — Tony Kanaan (No. 14 ABC Supply/AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “I don’t know what to say. We had a solid car, made a lot of positions on track and also in the pits. We went from 23rd all the way to eighth, I believe, but at the end I had to match a fuel number to make it to the checkered without a splash, and in order to do that I had to let a lot of cars go. I truly believe that we had a top-10 car. We ran up there most of the race, and it’s just disappointing that we had to settle for 19th.”

20th — Rinus VeeKay (No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet): “Of course, everything was new to me, and I didn’t want to take too much risk at the start. We were running third. The team was doing an amazing job. The second pit stop, I came into the box and just hit the brakes a little too hard. I locked up my inside front, and my biggest nightmare happened. I hit the crew guys. They work day and night for me, so I feel terrible. I will make sure to apologize to everyone. I made one mistake, but it was a big one. Pit stops are something I’m not as familiar with yet, but that’s not an excuse. We had a great car. It got better and better, and I was able to pass cars on the inside and the outside. I learned a lot, but not fully in a good way. I just want to thank the team for giving me such an amazing car, but I threw the race away. Also, I feel bad for my teammates Ed (Carpenter) and Conor (Daly) having a tough race. There were a lot of bad crashes, and I hope Spencer (Pigot) is fine.”

21st — Fernando Alonso (No. 66 Ruoff Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “It was a very eventful race for us. We didn’t have one lap of kindness, let’s say. We were struggling from the very beginning with the balance of the car with a lot of oversteer. We kept changing that balance in the pit stops, reducing the front flap, doing tire adjustments, and then we started to be happy with the car. We were up to P15 around Lap 110, which is where we wanted to be. We spent half the race going from P26 to P15 and then we had a clutch problem on the car that we didn’t know how to solve. We finished the race without the clutch, so from that point on every pit stop we had to push the car, engage the gear and go. That cost us a lap and unfortunately, we kept that lap down until the end and we could not achieve anything more. I’m happy to finish the race, cross the line and have one 500 miles in the pocket, that’s the positive thing. The negative is that we were out of contention very quickly with the clutch problem. Anyway, I think the Arrow McLaren SP team was fantastic during the race. The strategy and pit stops meant we were always gaining positions. I’m very proud of the work we’ve done over the last couple of weeks. We tried to race, but luck was not with us today, but I’m proud of the effort from everyone in the team.”

22nd — Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was a real shame to start as far back as I did. I really do think that Chevy brought an incredible race engine. It had so much power. It was so good. So, I think if we started further up, we would not have lost as much time in traffic. I feel like we had one of the best cars. I didn’t see (Takuma) Sato, but congratulations to him. He’s an incredible driver around this place. It’s fantastic. I think he’s the most successful Japanese driver ever, so congratulations to him and the Rahal team. We were just on the outside of Ryan Hunter-Reay and he just hit us in the front wing like we weren’t there. So, we had to pit for a new front wing, and it went downhill from there. At the end of the race, we were running, I think, is the fastest laps of the race. The car was really, really good and it would have been good for the last shootout, but it wasn’t our year. We’ll come back next year, and we’ll be strong. We have a good baseline to attack for next year, and we’ll come back to try and get No. 2.”

23rd — Ben Hanley (No. 81 DragonSpeed USA Chevrolet): “It’s a fantastic feeling to finish the Indy 500! All the odds seemed against us two weeks ago, but a huge effort by everyone from the DragonSpeed crew to INDYCAR and Chevrolet made it possible. We tried a switch in strategy late in the race that didn’t quite work out, but we are really happy with 23rd and what we’ve achieved as a team at Indy this year. As we hoped, we gained a lot of knowledge today and can’t wait to come back next year to apply it!”

24th — Sage Karam (No. 24 DRR WIX Filters Chevrolet): “I was able to pass guys in the early part of the race, and I had a very good restart, which gave us more spots. So, we were moving up. The first five or 10 laps of the stints were fast, but then the tires fell off, and I couldn’t pass people. Ultimately, I made a mistake on pit lane with our third stop. I don’t know if the tires were worn or the brakes locked, but I slid by our pit box. Then I had to get in reverse, and we lost two laps. I got our one lap back and almost the other lap, too. And the No. 10 car stayed out, and it prevented us from getting a wave-around on the next yellow flag. At the end of the race, the WIX Filters Chevy was better, but I didn’t want to ruin other guys races, and I moved out of their way. We ran out of time trying to get the lap back because the car could run with guys on the lead lap. The DRR crew did a great job in the pits, as always, and we just had the one mistake today when I missed the pit. I feel badly for that one. We did learn a lot this month as a ‘one-off’ team at Indy.”

25th — Spencer Pigot (No. 45 HyVee Honda):

26th — Ed Carpenter (No. 20 United States Space Force Chevrolet): “Not the day we were hoping for. Our day ended after one corner. I don’t know that I could have done anything different. It didn’t feel like that aggressive of a move on my part. Evidently, the other driver’s spotter cleared him, which is crazy to me. Is it 2021 yet? 2020 is being a tough year right now. I am praying everyone is OK. I know Spencer (Pigot) took a big lick. A couple of our crew guys got whacked in the pit, too, so I am also thinking about them. I am terribly disappointed that we weren’t able to show better for the U.S. Space Force and the U.S. Air Force. I feel extremely disappointed that we couldn’t do more, but that’s racing sometimes.”

27th — Alexander Rossi (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS / Auto Nation Honda): “Up front, the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS / AutoNation Andretti Honda was awesome. I thought we had the car to win, and had we stayed up front we could have made a run for it. But because of a pit lane penalty that we still don’t fully understand, we didn’t get to stay up front. We shouldn’t have been in a position to have to run in the back. There was a lot of dirty air back there, and we just lost it. Not how we were hoping to see today go.”

28th — Alex Palou (No. 55 Guaranteed Rate Honda): “It’s a shame. I don’t really know what happened, if I was too low or too high. It’s difficult to say when you are going so quick. I had been working on getting a run on (Josef) Newgarden for two or three laps because I think our car was quicker than his. It’s just a big shame for all the Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh crew, Guaranteed Rate and our other sponsors that were behind us and for me. It was my first Indy 500, and I wanted to finish. I think we had a car capable of winning. We’ll come back stronger, for sure. When I look at my experience as a whole, it’s been awesome being here. It’s really nice to drive at this historic place. I just want to go back out there now. I learned a lot about driving. I turned so many laps, and I was learning every lap. It was a lot of fun. I just wish it didn’t end the way it did.”

29th — Conor Daly (No. 47 United States Air Force Chevrolet): “I’m not entirely sure what happened. We were having a good run, and it suddenly felt like my left front tire fell into a hole. It was very strange. I thought I had it saved, and it was a shame to see Oliver (Askew) hit the wall, as well. My mistake, and I am just looking forward to Gateway now. I am so thankful for the U.S. Air Force. They are the most incredible partner I’ve ever had, and I hate this for them.”

30th — Oliver Askew (No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “First of all, I need to thank the AMR Safety Team, Dallara and INDYCAR for keeping us as safe as possible in these cars going these speeds. I’m sorry for the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP team. They’ve worked so hard all week, all month, all year building up to this event. So, to have a result like this is really sad for all of us, but we will move on to Gateway next weekend. I was really happy with the pace we had and the aggressive strategies we were running. We were trying to make something happen, with passing being at a premium at this race. Thanks again to the team for all their hard work.”

31st — Dalton Kellett (No. 41 K-Line USA / AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “It’s obviously a different ‘500’ experience without the fans and having the national anthem and flyover without the energy of our great race fans, and it was bit sad to see that.  But the start felt pretty good. I thought I was going to get the jump on Tony (Kanaan) and Will (Power), but they showed my rookie status and got the jump on me, so now I know where to go next time. The car felt really good the first stint. We were just chipping away at it, working with the tools and dealing with a bit of understeer with the tailwind in Turn 2. The car felt really good in (Turns) 3 and 4, making moves in traffic and was able to pass guys. On the second stint, the wind shifted a bit, so I was getting a run out of (Turn) 2 into (Turn) 3 but got stuck behind (Ben) Hanley, who was running a bit off the pace. I kept trying to draft and get by him going into (Turn) 3. I went pretty late, and I didn’t know if his spotter didn’t let him know I was pretty low or he didn’t think I was going for it. I kind of popped, and he came down almost immediately, so I didn’t have time to back out of it, and he skimmed my front wing and took all the air off it. After that, I was just trying to save it and couldn’t quite get it turned enough to miss the wall. Pretty disappointed that was how it ended. We were having a really good month up to that point.”

32nd — Marcus Ericsson (No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I didn’t feel anything before the crash that indicated an issue. The car was feeling really good today. The car has been feeling good all month. We were going into the race feeling really confident, and I think the first 25 laps was proof of that. We were making progress overtaking cars. I felt really good out there, and I was getting into the rhythm of the race. Then it just really stepped out on me. I need to analyze and look at how that happened because I didn’t expect that to happen. I feel really disappointed for the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda guys. The No. 8 car was great all month, and to end like this is super disappointing.”

33rd — James Davison (No. 51 Jacob Construction / Tilson HR Honda): “Well, that’s obviously heartbreaking to go out of the Indy 500 in the first handful of laps with a mechanical issue. I’ve got to thank my team for all their hard work throughout the event. Our car felt good and we had gotten by (Fernando) Alonso, and I was pretty excited for the race ahead. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t meant to be, but hopefully we will be back next year with the Jacob Construction car running a bit stronger.”