Sunday, May 24, 2009

Andretti, Rahal, Kanaan crash out of 500

— Three-fourths of the way through the 200-lap Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, pole-sitter Helio Castroneves had regained the lead. Castroneves led the first seven laps, then fell back as far as fifth. But he passed defending champion Scott Dixon after a caution period. Will Power, hired as a backup to Castroneves for Team Penske, was third, followed by Dan Wheldon and Townsend Bell. Ed Carpenter was sixth through 150 laps, followed by Danica Patrick, Paul Tracy, Ryan Briscoe and rookie Mike Conway. Tony Kanaan was running third when he crashed out of the race on lap 98. Jim Nabors had barely finished singing the traditional "Back Home Again (in Indiana)" when two drivers made a quick exit from the race. After the original start of the race was waved off because the field wasn't bunched, the cars of Mario Moraes and Marco Andretti made contact in the very first turn. Moraes' car was taken back to the garage area on a wrecker; Andretti's was receiving repairs in the pits. “The kid doesn’t get it; he never will,” Andretti said of the 20-year-old Moraes. “All the work, all the hopes, it’s over just like that. This place can just be so hard on you.” Moraes and Andretti started the race in the third row, having qualified seventh and eighth, respectively. But they never got up to speed on Sunday. “It’s so disappointing,” said Andretti. “The guy (Moraes) is clueless.” Said Moraes: “I was in front, I was holding my line, and he just hit me.” Andretti was hoping to win the race on the 40th anniversary of his grandfather Mario's lone victory in 1969. On lap 55, another of the young stars of IndyCar racing crashed out. Graham Rahal, son of 1986 winner Bobby Rahal, hit the wall hard for the second consecutive year. He started fourth and was running sixth, but was placed 28th on the grid after the crash. Last year, as a rookie, he started 13th but was the first car out with a crash on lap 36. The stands were full at Indianapolis beneath partly cloudy skies.

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