Australian driver James Davison, who raced for Greenwood business-based Dale Coyne with Byrd and Belardi, saw his good early run ruined in a pit lane incident with three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves.
Brothers David and Jonathan Byrd both sponsored the car.
Davison appeared to miss his pit box, and while he tried to adjust, he was tapped from behind by Castroneves. Davison’s Honda-powered Dallara was swung around backwards, just forward of his pit box and nearly knocking a tire onto the track.
“I pitted and the speed limit limiter didn’t work. As a result, I had to do it NASCAR-style, just looking at the RPMs on the dash,” Davison said. “Helio, unfortunately, was a victim of circumstances. He pulled out to pass me since I wasn’t going exactly 60 miles per hour doing it manually. Right when I needed to pull into my box, it spun me and it was unfortunate for both of us.”
The Byrd crew got Davison turned around, but he dropped several places after running as high as fourth place.
Davison didn’t give up and due to a combination of speed, good pit stops and luck, the Aussie eventually finished 12th, the best finish for a Byrd-sponsored team since Buddy Lazier finished fifth for them in 2005.
Could he have finished in the top 10, or even had something for the leaders at the end?
David Byrd said we’ll never know, but he certainly would have liked the team’s chances.
“Yeah, I think for sure, but who knows how it would have played out?” he said. “I don’t think we had anything for (race winner Simon) Pagenaud, but the team did a fantastic job with the recovery, the strategy worked out well and James did a fantastic job.
“He put us in a position to get back on the lead lap and do 500 miles.”
Davison put the incident behind him and drove a steady, comfortable race to bring the Dale Coyne with Byrd and Belardi Dallara-Honda home.
“This was a way better program than last year,” Byrd said. “Better support, better operations and hopefully we can take this and do this again next year.”