Indy 500: How the race was won

Robby Gordon led the 84th Indy 500 into turn 1, but ceded to his team mate, the polesitter, Greg Ray

Indy 500: How the race was won

The main question in the early stages was over strategy. With many drivers believing that the race will not go the full 500 miles, the emphasis for the drivers was on making their way to the front as early as possible.

Greg Ray remained silent on the radio as his Menard team mate made a move on him from row 2. Once ahead, he set about establishing a rhythm for the early part of the race.

After 11 laps, Montoya had moved back into second, and was challenging Ray - however, Gordon was still challenging, and entered into a drafting battle with the Ganassi driver.

After the first round of pitstops, Montoya led. Last of the front runners to pit was the second Ganassi car, suggesting that the Californian was able to extract better fuel mileage than the other leaders.

Sarah Fisher stalled on her first pit stop, succumbing to the pressure. She was able to continue, however.

After 38 laps, the order was:
1 Montoya
2 Gordon
3 Salazar
4 Cheever
5 Ray
6 Ward
7 Lazier
8 Vasser
9 Unser
10 Dismore

Eliseo Salazar and Buddy Lazier were the men on the move after 50 laps, with Salazar moving to third after setting fastest lap on lap 44.

Buddy Lazier took that position after passing Jimmy Vasser, Greg Ray and Salazar in the course of six laps.

Eddie Cheever had moved up to third before being demoted by Salazar, but found his car handling badly in traffic.

On lap 65, Greg Ray harmed team Menard's chances of taking their first Indy 500 win in 23 tries, when he hit the wall in turn one.

Robby Gordon continued to run strongly in second.

On lap 75, the yellow flags were out again as both the women in the race looked to be out.

Going into turn one, Sarah Fisher was passing Lyn St James on the inside, level with Andy Hillenburg. However, St James cut across Fisher, and bounced back into the wall, wiping the right side of the car off.

Fisher caught the slide that her car had on, after being tagged by St James, but could not stop the Dallara grazing the wall, which damaged the suspension.

As her car crawled back to the pits, she was heard to say 'I'm sorry', addressed to Derrick Walker, the team boss.

"Not to worry," answered Walker.

St James shed some light on the incident, saying "We didn't have the best handling car, but we'd been working on it in the stops. We were driving a defensive race until we could get the car handling better," she said.

"Someone came down the inside, and we tried to give them room. We didn't want to get up into the marbles though - we had to stay on the race track."

At the start of the caution, the top nine were still on the lead lap.

1 Montoya
2 Gordon, at 6.092
3 Salazar, at 7.638
4 Lazier, at 7.960
5 Ward, at 10.512
6 Cheever, at 10.534
7 Vasser, at 11.095
8 McGeehee, at 13.602
9 Dare, at 15.452

The caution period was a long one, but leader Juan Montoya chose not to stop - team boss Chip Ganassi claimed the car had burned off very little fuel since the last caution.

Robby McGeehee started flying off the restart, moving ahead of Jimmy Vasser. He continued to pick off the men ahead of him until he sat with only Juan Montoya between him and the race lead.

His charge was halted by a yellow flag due to debris on the track, and his team decided to bring him in for a stop.

After this, it was the turn of Jeff Ward to force his way into second. The drivers on the lead lap - Ward, Vasser, Lazier, Dare', Salazar, Cheever, Gordon and McGeehee were drafting furiously and changing position by the lap - all apart from Juan Montoya who continued to lead the race serenly and confidently.

Jimmy Vasser had briefly held second, when his team removed the gurney flap from the rear wing. This was a mistake, as it made the car very loose in traffic. He began to drop back whenever in the presence of other cars.

Buddy Lazier moved up to second, but Airton Dare', the rookie dicing with far more exoerienced runners Salazar and Cheever. At the start of lap 118, the three cars were abreast going into turn 1. This had proved the downfall of Lyn St James and Sarah Fisher, but Dare toughed it out and moved up into fifth.

This became fourth when he passed Vasser on the back straight.

Unfortunately, his heroics were to come to nought when he suffered an engine failure on lap 126. He tried to bring the Dallara back to the pits, but was forced to pull over onto the grass at the pit entrance. All in all, it had been an impressive Indy debut by the Indy Lights driver. Nevertheless, his frustration was plain to see.

Robby McGeehee also appeared to be suffering from engine maladies, his engine apparently 200rpm down after his last stop.

Meanwhile, the Ganassi crew just seemed to get better and better. The pit mechanics conspired to turn Montoya around in an astounding 7.6 seconds in the pits as the leaders pitted under the yellow flags.

The leading pack continued to dice, with Lazier moving back into second, and Salazar overtaking Gordon and Vasser. At this time, Greg Ray's car emerged from the pit garage and started the race once again, a full 77 laps down on Montoya.

Less than a lap later, he was in the wall again. Unequivocally this time, the IRL champion was out.

For the first time since he took the lead, Montoya appeared to have a threat to his dominance. 1996 winner Buddy Lazier had moved to second and drawn to within 1.6 seconds of the leader on lap 156.

At this point, Sam Hornish spun after touching the wall to make the 6th caution period of the race. It looked like being a short yellow period, as the car had all four wheels on and was not far from the pit entrance.

As the restart went ahead, on lap 162, Lazier was right on Montoya. He drew up to within a second, but could not appear to get past, despite trying.

Despite this, the Ganassi crew were preparing to trim Montoya's car out for more straightline speed as the end approached.

All the calculations were thrown out of kilter when the course went yellow again, as Stan Wattle's car started smoking badly.

The resident of Florida had been running strongly, despite being back in 16th and a lap down - he had run the fastest lap of the race back on 110.

Vasser was the only driver on the lead lap not to pit, as the Californian was out of sequence. This left him in the lead.

However, despite his lighter fuel load, Vasser had his team mate Montoya climbing all over the back of his car by lap 179. Astoundingly, Montoya's first lap after the green flags was 4mph faster than all of his rivals - on cold tyres, a top-up of fuel and adjustments to the front wing that the Colombian was unfamiliar with.

By 180, Montoya was leading once more, after an aggressive but clean move into turn 2.

However, the leader on lap 180 has failed to win seven of the last eight '500s.

Salazar was once again on the move as he passed Buddy Lazier for 3rd. These two had raced hard from the restart, with Lazier shaking his fist visibly at the Chilean as the latter cut across him into turn one.

However, Lazier's car was coming back to him and he dispatched Salazar and Vasser on lap 188, to start the chase of Montoya again.

Vasser was forced to pit on lap 196, ceding 3rd place and finally losing any chance of winning the 2000 Indy 500.

With two laps to go, Juan Montoya had an advantage of 1.7 seconds. It was enough, and he held it to the flag to win from Buddy Lazier and Eliseo Salazar.

Results

pos/laps/driver/chassis-engine-tyre combo/status/ time/speed
1) 200 9 Montoya, Juan G/O/F LEADER 167 43.052 209.050
2) 200 91 Lazier, Buddy D/O/F 7.184 -- 41.702 215.817
3) 200 11 Salazar, Eliseo G/O/F 15.702 -- 41.619 216.247
4) 200 14 Ward, Jeff G/O/F 18.413 -- 41.912 214.736
5) 200 51 Cheever Jr., Eddie D/I/F 18.726 -- 41.656 216.055
6) 200 32 Gordon, Robby D/O/F 19.074 -- 41.327 217.775
7) 199 10 Vasser, Jimmy G/O/F - 1 13 5 43.186 208.401
8) 199 7 Gregoire, Stephan G/O/F - 1 29 -- 42.581 211.362
9) 199 4 Goodyear, Scott D/O/F - 1 31 -- 43.944 204.806
10) 198 8 Sharp, Scott D/O/F - 2 11 -- 44.402 202.694
11)198 28 Dismore, Mark D/O/F - 2 18 -- 42.042 214.072
12) 198 98 Beechler, Donnie D/O/F - 2 31 -- 43.751 205.710
13) 198 33 Lazier, Jaques G/O/F - 2 31 -- 42.098 213.787
14) 198 6 Schroeder, Jeret D/O/F - 2 43 -- 47.188 190.726
15) 198 41 Boat, Billy G/O/F - 2 44 -- 45.453 198.007
16) 197 55 Boesel, Raul G/O/F - 3 9 -- 42.886 209.859
17) 197 50 Leffler, Jason G/O/F - 3 25 -- 41.723 215.708
18) 194 12 Calkins, Buzz D/O/F - 6 29 -- 44.037 204.374
19) 193 23 Knapp, Steve G/I/F - 7 9 -- 43.693 205.983
20) 188 16 Hamilton, Davey G/O/F - 12 15 -- 43.308 207.814
21) 187 5 McGehee, Robby G/O/F - 13 44 2 47.069 191.209
22) 186 22 Unser, Johnny G/O/F - 14 30 -- 44.203 203.606
23) 172 92 Wattles, Stan D/O/F - 28 -- Engine
24) 153 18 Hornish Jr., Sam D/O/F - 47 -- Accident
25) 126 88 Dare', Airton G/O/F - 74 -- Engine
26) 99 24 Buhl, Robbie G/O/F -101 -- Engine
27) 97 75 Hearn, Richie D/O/F -103 -- Electrical
28) 91 48 Hillenburg, Andy D/O/F -109 -- Wheel Bearing
29) 89 3 Unser Jr., Al G/O/F -111 -- Over Heating
30) 74 27 Kite, Jimmy G/O/F -126 -- Engine
31) 71 15 Fisher, Sarah D/O/F -129 -- Accident
32) 69 90 St. James, Lyn G/O/F -131 -- Accident
33) 67 1 Ray, Greg D/O/F -133 26 Accident


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