At times, it felt like there were as many tow trucks on the track as there were cars. Conor Daly’s car caught fire before the race even began due to the car’s exhaust system because it was too hot.
Sage Karam, driving in his second 500, didn’t even complete one lap: He was knocked out of the race after colliding with Takuma Sato in the first curve. This was the beginning of a race with one incident after another.
After the first 11 laps were run under caution, the real race to the finish line began, with NASCAR star Jeff Gordon leading the way in the white pace car.
When the drivers reached Lap 115, the outside temp was a balmy 85 degrees, while the track had heated up to 117 degrees. Cars screeched by at 230 mph, moving almost too fast to see at times.
Scott Dixon led for a race-high 84 laps, while Tony Kanaan, who led 30 laps, was knocked out in a late accident on Lap 153.
Driver Dale Coyne’s pit crew members were struck and injured by a car that was leaving the pit area, which added to the drama and spoke to the dangers of the race. They were taken away for treatment.
The last 15 nail-biting laps woke fans up and made this one of the most hard-fought races of all time. There were five lead changes over the final 15 laps, with Montoya making two late passes to seize the lead for good with four to go.
Montoya’s win was his second this season; he last took the checkered flag at Indy 15 years ago. “I was screaming I was so happy,” he said after the race.
There were many problems for Montoya during the race, but the racing veteran pulled out the win. He had a damaged wing after a collision with Simona de Silvestro, and at one point, he was in 30th place.
Montoya’s teammate, Penske driver Will Power, fought for his second-place finish, while Charlie Kimball squeaked by Dixon. “It was one heck of a motor race out there,” said Kimball, who led 10 laps.
People were buzzing about how this was one of the best and most exciting races in the history of the Indy 500. That, along with the anticipation of the running of the 100th race in 2016, will bring fans back for another dose. No one walked away disappointed because of a lack of excitement this year.
Photos: Robert Laberge/Getty Images (celebration), Kirk Stierwalt/AP (crash)