INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti swapped the lead in the early laps of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, both of them trying to win at a place that has caused them plenty of heartache.
Kanaan charged to the front from the outside of the fourth row in his bid to finally win at the Brickyard. The Brazilian had led 225 laps coming into the race, more than any other non-winner besides Michael Andretti and Rex Mays, yet has never taken the checkered flag.
He finished second in 2004 and has twice finished third.
Marco Andretti started on the outside of the front row and spent the first 29 laps playing leapfrog with Kanaan as the standard-bearer for his family bids to end the “Andretti Curse.” The family hasn’t captured the fabled Memorial Day weekend race since his grandfather, Mario, won in 1969. Michael Andretti has been to Victory Lane twice as a team owner with the late Dan Wheldon in 2005 and Dario Franchitti in 2007, but never won the race as a driver.
Marco Andretti was second in 2006 in the second-closest finish in the race’s history.
Franchitti, the defending race winner, and Helio Castroneves began the day in pursuit of their fourth Indy 500 victory. Only A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears and Al Unser have won the race four times.
The race began with a chill in the air – the temperature was 62 degrees at the start, not much warmer than the coldest race in history (58, 1992). Thousands of fans who piled into the historic track were bundled up against a stiff breeze that swirled down the front straightaway and many arrived late, some blaming new security measures put in place after the Boston Marathon bombings.
Several drivers said the colder weather could produce more speed – and more crashes. And it didn’t take long for the first caution flag to come out.
J.R Hildebrand lost control in Turn 1 and slid into the outside wall. His car continued down the short chute before coming to a rest, and he climbed out of it without any injuries. It was Hildebrand who crashed on the final lap while leading two years ago.
“Just got a little loose in the middle of the corner, and I sort of got caught and spun around,” Hildebrand said. “We felt like we had a car that could run at the front.”
Most of the field had made its first pit stop when the second caution came out for Sebastian Saavedra, the 22-year-old Colombian driver for Dragon Racing.
The race resumed with pole sitter Ed Carpenter back at the front, though he also had a scare under caution. Carpenter was swerving back and forth to keep his tires warm when his car dived to the left, crossed through the grass in the corner and safely back onto the track.
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