Australian Will Power says it “sucks” to finish second as he was narrowly edged out by teammate Juan Pablo Montoya on Sunday in America’s most famous motor race, the Indianapolis 500.
Montoya won his second Indy 500 title after a thrilling finish in which the Colombian outduelled Power and third placegetter, American Charlie Kimball.
Montoya passed New Zealand’s Scott Dixon with four laps remaining and went outside Power on the front straightaway on the next lap and held him off to the finish for a triumph that had him pumping his fist just moments after crossing the finish line.
“This is what IndyCar is all about, awesome racing all the way down to the wire,” Montoya said. “I don’t even know what to say. This is too good.”
Montoya also won the Indy 500 in 2000, then spent six years in Formula One and nine seasons in the US stock-car NASCAR series before returning to IndyCar last year.
Montoya fell back early to 30th in the field of 33 after rear wing damage when the car was struck by Britain’s Pippa Mann during a caution period. Montoya ran over an air hose on a slow pit stop and seemed to be struggling.
But he battled through the field as the 200 laps wore on.
“I had a good feeling all day,” Montoya said. “The car under me was awesome. The Chevy (engine) was good all day.”
Power led Montoya and Dixon out of the pits after the final refuel stops but a major three-way crash forced a restart with only 15 laps remaining.
The crowd roared as lap after lap the trio exchanged thrilling high-speed passes. Montoya overtook Dixon only two turns after the restart but Dixon was in the lead less than two laps later.
Power and Dixon swapped the lead again before Montoya and Power went around Dixon on the front straightaway, then Montoya passed Power for the lead in the first turn with nine laps to go.
Power answered by passing for the lead in turn one with eight laps remaining and Dixon regained second place with seven laps left, only to set up Montoya’s charge past both to win.
“I was trying to keep the lead. I got close to him and had to lift and that was the race,” Power said after his career-best runner-up effort.
“That was a lot of fun. Man, there was too much push there at the end. That was all I had. Damn. It sucks finishing second.”
Pole-sitter Dixon, the 2008 Indy 500 winner who led 85 laps, faded late to finish fourth behind Kimball.
“When I really needed to go I just couldn’t turn the car,” Dixon said. “As the laps counted down I was trying to make something happened but when I tried to pass I couldn’t make it.
“All praise to Juan. He made a hell of a comeback. We’ll come back. This one always hurts, though.”