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REST IN PEACE: INDYCAR DRIVER JUSTIN WILSON KILLED AT POCONO RACEWAY

Justin Wilson

INDIANAPOLIS – INDYCAR announced that driver Justin Wilson, who enjoyed success in multiple motorsports series during a two-decade professional career, died on Aug. 24 from a head injury sustained in the Verizon IndyCar Series race Aug. 23 at Pocono Raceway. He was 37.

“This is a monumentally sad day for INDYCAR and the motorsports community as a whole,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co., the parent of INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Justin’s elite ability to drive a race car was matched by his unwavering kindness, character and humility – which is what made him one of the most respected members of the paddock. As we know, the racing industry is one big family, and our efforts moving forward will be focused on rallying around Justin’s family to ensure they get the support they need during this unbelievably difficult time.”

Wilson was struck by debris from a single-car crash on Lap 180 of the 200-lap race on the 2.5-mile triangular oval. Wilson was attended to by the Holmatro Safety Team and airlifted to Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

A native of Sheffield, England, Wilson recorded seven career Indy car victories – the most recent in 2012 at Texas Motor Speedway – and eight pole starts in 174 races. He totaled 711 career laps led, including two in the Aug. 23 race. He competed in Formula One in 2003 with Minardi and Jaguar, and his initial F1 points were scored that year in the U.S. Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. He co-drove a Michael Shank Racing sports car entry to the overall victory in the 50th anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2012.

Wilson, a road cycling and mountain biking enthusiast, also was an ambassador for dyslexia, a learning disorder characterized by difficulty reading that challenged him as a youth. He often would speak to groups at the racetrack and visit schools near INDYCAR race venues.

Wilson is survived by his wife, Julia, and two daughters. His younger brother Stefan is an accomplished race car driver who has competed in the Verizon IndyCar Series and Indy Lights. Funeral arrangements are pending. In lieu of flowers, a fund has been set up for Wilson children. Donations may be sent to: Wilson Children’s Fund, c/o INDYCAR, 4551 W. 16th St., Indianapolis, IN 46222.

Courtesy of Verizon IndyCar Series

CALL HIM A TWO-TIMER: JUAN PABLO MONTOYA WINS THE 99TH RUNNING OF THE INDIANAPOLIS 500

Juan Pablo Montoya crosses the Yard of Bricks to win the 99th Indianapolis 500. (Photo by William Gibson)

Juan Pablo Montoya crosses the Yard of Bricks to win the 99th Indianapolis 500. (Photo by William Gibson)

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

INDIANAPOLIS – It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective. With a 15 year break that included stops in Formula One and NASCAR, Juan Pablo Montoya returned to the winners circle that first made him famous – the Indianapolis 500. Montoya earned his second victory at the Yard of Bricks despite an incident on lap seven and a bad pit stop that put him in 30th position on lap 41.

“I don’t know what to say; this is too much!” said Montoya, who won the Indy 500 during his rookie season in 2000. “This is what racing in IndyCar is all about, awesome racing all the way down to the wire.”

After the poor start, Montoya used the final 159 laps to roar through the field and battle fellow Team Penske teammate Will Power and Chip Ganassi drivers Scott Dixon and Charlie Kimball to the checkered flag. Leading just nine laps total, Montoya regained the lead on lap 197 and edged Power across the bricks by a 0.1046 of a second – the fourth closest finish in the 99 year history of the Indy 500.

“That was fun racing,” said the 19th two-time Indy 500 winner. “Probably the best racing. Between Will and Dixon, we have a lot of respect for each other. We understand the risk and we understand when they got you. So it makes it fun.”

“I just had too much push when he got by,” said Power. “I had to lift on that last lap. He was definitely better when he got behind me. That’s why he got the run. Anywhere else I’d be happy with second. But here…”

The Colombian almost lost his shot early in the race. The race fell under a caution flag on lap one thanks to a crash between Takuma Sato and Sage Karam.

“I don’t know what Sato’s doing,” said Karam. “Kind of a bonehead move. He sees me and (Ryan) Hunter-Reay side by side and the first lap he’s trying to make it three wide. I just don’t get it. I mean, just a very stupid move on his part. It ruins a lot of people’s races.”

During the yellow, Simona de Silvestro ran into Montoya, forcing the eventual winner to pit for new rear wheel guards. On lap 41, he slid through his pit, forcing his crew to push him into place.

“That was an easy race. But this was a lot of work today,” said Montoya. “I mean, with Simona in back of me; that’s what happens when you qualify bad. You find yourself with the wrong crowd.

The win also gave Roger Penske a record-extending 16th Indy 500 win as an owner.

“Our guys stayed in there, and Montoya coming from all the way back,” said Penske. “I’ll tell you, you give that guy the bit and put it in his mouth, as you know, he doesn’t give up. “I’m just so thrilled for everyone who works for us, all the people who support us and all these race fans – what a great day.”

Despite winning the Indy 500 as a rookie 15 years ago, this was only Montoya’s third 500 – he finished fifth last year. During the years in between he drove at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the road course in Formula One and on the oval in the NASCAR Brickyard 400. With Sunday’s victory, he set a record for most years between Indy 500 wins; Gordon Johncock previously held the mark with nine years between wins in 1973 and 1982.

The 200-lap race saw six caution periods for 47 laps, including five incidents involving a total of 11 cars. Sebastian Saavedra, driver of the No. 17 AFS Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, sustained a contusion to his right foot when his car was hit in the side by Stefano Coletti in the No. 4 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet. Saavedra must be evaluated before being cleared to race again.

2013 Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan crashed on his own on Lap 152, but walked away and lauded the safety of the cars.

“It (crashing) is a very unfortunate thing to happen to me,” Kanaan said. “But if I had to prove that we don’t flip cars anymore, here it is for the critics. (I’m) heartbroken but OK.”

Dale Coyne Racing crewman Daniel Jang, part of the No. 18 Tristan Vautier crew, was transported to IU Health Methodist Hospital with a right ankle injury when clipped by teammate James Davison’s car after it collided with the third Coyne car, driven by Pippa Mann, while exiting its pit.

The 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for May 29, 2016.

HOOSIER ED CARPENTER CLAIMS THE POLE FOR THE 97TH INDIANAPOLIS 500

(Courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway)

INDIANAPOLIS – After a Indianapolis 500 pole day filled with drama for teams Ed Carpenter found himself celebrating with the Verizon P1 Award

The lone team owner/driver in the IZOD IndyCar Series recorded a blistering four-lap average speed of 228.762 mph (best lap of 229.347 mph; 39.2418 seconds) in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet. The one-car team bested the best of Team Penske and Andretti Autosport in the shootout to claim a $100,000 bonus and 15 precious IZOD IndyCar Series championship points.

Carpenter’s previous best start at the Speedway was eighth in 2010 and ’11; his best finish is fifth after starting 10th in 2008.  His pole speed was the fastest since Sam Hornish Jr. (228.985 mph) in 2006 for Team Penske. Hornish, the last American to win the Indianapolis 500 pole, went on to win the race.

Rookie Carlos Munoz earned a front-row start and $50,000 of the Verizon Front Row Awards for second (228.342) — .2892 of a second off Carpenter’s aggregate four-lap time — and Marco Andretti was awarded a $40,000 bonus for qualifying third (228.261). It’s Andretti’s best start in eight attempts at the Speedway.

Munoz, 21, is seeking to match Juan Pablo Montoya as an Indianapolis 500 winner from Colombia. Montoya also started second – as a rookie — in his 2000 victory. He was the last first-year front-row starter.

E.J. Viso (228.150), first-year Indy 500 competitor AJ Allmendinger (228.099) and Team Penske teammate Will Power (228.087) will start on Row 2 for the 200-lap race May 26. Reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay (227.904) will join three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves (227.762) and James Hinchcliffe (227.070) on Row 3.

Positions 25-33 will be set through four-lap qualifications May 19 on Old National Armed Forces Bump Day.

There will be at least one bump in determining the 33-car field as Schmidt Peterson Pelfrey entered the No. 81 Angie’s List Honda-powered car to be driven by Katherine Legge. She’s expected to participate in the 9-10 a.m. (ET) practice session and make at least one qualifying attempt later in the day. Each entrant is allowed three qualifying attempts as time permits.

In addition to Legge, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing teammates Graham Rahal and Michel Jourdain Jr., rookies Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly, Ana Beatriz, Buddy Lazier, Pippa Mann, Josef Newgarden and Sebastian Saavedra will attempt to qualify.