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IndyCar Indy 500

The hard luck stories afflicting expected 2022 Indy 500 contenders

Several typically strong Indianapolis 500 teams were left disappointed after promising form through practice failed to translate to strong results in Sunday's IndyCar blue riband race won by Marcus Ericsson.

Chip Ganassi and Ed Carpenter Racing drivers locked out the Fast Six pole shootout, but while Ganassi ended up first and third with Ericsson and Tony Kanaan, ECR's best representative at the flag was Conor Daly in sixth.

Daly climbed from 17th on the grid to 12th in the early laps and made his first pitstop immediately before a caution period, which cycled him to the front of the field, able to exchange the lead for a time with Ganassi's polesitter Scott Dixon.

PLUS: How Ericsson achieved Indy immortality as Ganassi's main man stumbled

Rinus VeeKay joined Dixon and reigning IndyCar champion Alex Palou on the front row of the grid, and was running second between the two Ganassi drivers on lap 39 when he became the first of several drivers to crash out on lap 39.

“The car just got loose in Turn 2 and I was a passenger from there on,” remarked the Dutchman.

“We had a car that was good enough to fight for the win, or at least get a lot of points, and I got none of that. A big sorry to the team and everyone cheering me on because this could’ve been a very nice day.”

His team owner and three-time Indy polesitter Ed Carpenter meanwhile started fourth, but felt his car’s handling deteriorating over the course of the race.

From running fifth in the first third of the race, Carpenter slipped to seventh after the second round of stops, and then outside the top 10 in the race’s final quarter. His day was compounded by stalling when engines were re-fired following the red flag caused by Jimmie Johnson's Turn 2 crash. After restarting at the back, he finished a disappointed 19th.

“Those first two yellows, we missed the lottery and lost a little track position because we had still been out on track,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter slipped back from a good grid position, and then stalled ahead of the final restart

Carpenter slipped back from a good grid position, and then stalled ahead of the final restart

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

“The guys did a good job in the pits, but we got shuffled back in line. The balance was tough once you got as far back as we got, and we just couldn’t recover from that lost track position and that was that.

“We’ll come back again next year and try again.”

Team Penske's hopes took a knock when Will Power’s car suffered acute oversteer in the second half of the first stint and then he stalled on leaving the pits. The car’s handling improved for the final two stints, but by then all hope of a top 10 had been stymied as the 2018 winner finished 15th.

“By that time, we had lost so much track position, it was just trying to salvage what we could,” he said.

Power's team-mate Josef Newgarden also stalled leaving the pits when he accidentally selected second instead of first. The double IndyCar champion came home 13th, while Scott McLaughlin’s charge from 26th on the grid had put him onto the cusp of the top 10 before his Turn 3 crash put him out.

“I'm not sure if that's on me or not and not sure why that happened, we will have to analyse the data,” said Newgarden, who felt capable of running in the top five. “If that's on me, I feel terrible.”

“We were having a rip of a run there,” remarked McLaughlin. “Just caught a big puff of wind and spun out and boom.

“I am a little sore, but I got checked out and I am good. I will be back stronger and better next year.”

Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Chevrolet Pit stop

Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Chevrolet Pit stop

Photo by: Brett Farmer / Motorsport Images

The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing cars tend to race better than they qualify at the 500, only this time they appeared not to.

“We just didn't have it,” said Graham Rahal, who came home 14th after starting 21st. “The car didn't have the natural speed that we needed. I feel bad for the guys because they put their heart and soul into this, and today was a great example.

“The car balance wasn't that bad, we'd be following quite close sometimes, but we couldn’t draft up. The boys did a good job in the pits, and that's the reason we went forward in the race, so thanks to them. We will take a good dive into what exactly we need to be better.”

Jack Harvey, 24th, said the team “rolled the dice on a strategy hoping for a yellow that didn’t come”, while Christian Lundgaard was happy to finish his second-ever oval race on a day when other similarly inexperienced drivers hit trouble, but said his car’s lack of speed was a “tough one to accept” as he struggled to 18th.

“We finished the race which is obviously always an achievement, but we aren’t where we want to be,” said the first Danish driver to start the 500. “It’s important to sit down and understand why, and come back stronger.”

Alexander Rossi was the lone high spot for Andretti Autosport, the 2016 rookie winner climbing from 20th to finish fifth. He wasn't able to challenge the Ganassi and Arrow McLaren SP cars in the final throes of the race, but was well able to hold off his pursuers.

“To start 20th and end in the top five is a great accomplishment,” said Rossi. “I think due to some amazing work in pitlane and the great strategy we were able to capitalise when we needed to and the car was good. Everything went our way.

“Unfortunately, we ran out of time at the end. I don’t know if we had the overall pace to win, but it was nice to be in there with a shot.”

Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport Honda pit stop

Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport Honda pit stop

Photo by: Brett Farmer / Motorsport Images

Overall, though, for a team that has won this race five times in the past, it was a very quiet day.

Colton Herta’s huge Carb Day shunt damaged his chassis enough that he switched to a backup car that hadn’t previously turned a wheel on an oval . He never rose above his 25th starting spot, aside from during pit sequences, and eventually stopped at two-thirds distance with throttle sensor issues. He described the experience as the loosest he’d ever been on an oval.

Devlin DeFrancesco was underwhelmed by his 20th place finish, Marco Andretti was beating himself up for stalling on leaving his pitbox on one occasion, but was also unimpressed with the pace of his car, while Romain Grosjean's day ended with a Turn 2 shunt on lap 106.

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