Senior staff writer
IndyCar team owner Dennis Reinbold had just one word Sunday for the outcome of Dreyer & Reinbold driver Sage Karam in the 101st Indianapolis 500.
“Disappointing,” said Reinbold, after the No. 24 Mecum Auctions Dallara/Chevrolet stopped suddenly in the first turn on lap 126.
Karam was steadily moving through the pack for his second top-10 finish for Reinbold. Karam started 21st and was up to 12th just a few laps before his fourth 500 ended abruptly.
Reinbold was the first to believe that a faulty alternator resulted in placing 28th and the end of a problem-filled race.
Shortly after the race started, Reinbold realized that Karam could hear him but that he could not hear his driver due to a malfunction when his driver’s microphone failed. It forced the team to communicate with Karam through code and hand signals during pit stops for car adjustments.
“We had an alternator let go and there was nothing we could do,” Karam said. “ I thought we ran a smart race … I just wanted to finish the whole race.
“We had a top-10 car today. I was driving smart, and I was as calm as I could be. It’s unfortunate when something out of your control happens and you can’t fix it.”
The Indy 500 is the only Verizon IndyCar series race this season for Reinbold, a Greenwood auto dealership owner.
Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves missed his fourth win Sunday when he lost to first-time winner Takuma Sato by about one-fifth of a second. Castroneves led with six laps to go before Sato passed him to become the first Japanese driver to win the 500.
Castroneves has three runners-up finishes and has missed being a six-time winner by a combined time of less than six-tenths of a second.
One of five Team Penske drivers in the field, Castroneves had a harrowing day. The 42-year-old driver drove under Scott Dixon’s airborne car on Lap 53 and later barely missed being collected in another accident later.
A rear winglet and front wing were broken on the No. 2 Shell Pennzoil Chevrolet when Castroneves drove onto the grass inside the south chute to avoid Dixon’s horrendous crash.
He was later assessed a drive-through penalty for jumping the restart on Lap 75, which ultimately cost him the win.
“I would like to see some reviews,” Castroneves said afterward. “Hopefully they can convince me that I jumped the start. I had a good start. They call green and I went.”
In the final five laps he could not track down Sato, contending that his tires were wearing down.
“Finishing second again sucks,” Castroneves said. “So close to get the fourth. I really am trying. I will not give up on this dream. I know it will happen.”
His previous Indy 500 wins came in 2001, ’02 and ’09, each with team owner Roger Penske.
• Sato won the Indy 500 in his eighth start, his first with Andretti Autosport. Sato had never finished among the top 10 at Indy, although he crashed into the first turn on the last lap while trying to overtake leader Dario Franchitti in 2012.
• This was the fifth Indy 500 win for team owner Michael Andretti, tying him with Chip Ganassi. Andretti’s drivers have won three of the last four races.
• The race was red-flagged after the Jay Howard-Dixon crash. Dixon’s airborne car punched a hole in the south chute fence. Dixon called it a wild ride.
• Veteran crew chief Johnny O’Gara served as race strategist and son Andy’ O’Gara, each from Beech Grove, was team manager for rookie Zach Veach, who completed 155 laps before being sidelined with a 26th-place finish. Andy O’Gara’s wife, nine-time Indy 500 driver Sarah Fisher, drove the pace car during caution periods.
• Voters for 500 Rookie of the Year were gaga over two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso, who started fifth, led 27 laps and completed 179 laps before engine failure. Dale Coyne’s rookie driver Ed Jones started 11th and finished third.