Indy 500 notebook: Weather pushes start, finish back by four hours

Rain, the typical bane of oval racing, came down hard and heavy, but fans had plenty of warning and sought shelter anywhere they could find it.

A statement from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, though, also gave warning to other factors.

Given the proximity of lightning moving toward the area, a decision was made to delay the start of the 108th Indianapolis 500 — but pushing it back to Memorial Day was never a consideration.

“Our plan all along was to get the Indianapolis 500 in today,” IMS president Doug Boles said.

Fans flocked back to the grandstands around 2 p.m., but the race itself didn’t begin until 4:45, a delay of exactly four hours from the scheduled 12:45 p.m. start. The race ended after 7 p.m., the latest it has ever finished.

International flavor

As has been the norm, the starting field came from several places around the globe.

There were 12.5 Americans (more on that) racing on Sunday, four Brits* (more on that, too), three apiece from New Zealand and Sweden, two Brazilians and two Danes, and one each from Argentina, Australia, France, Japan, Mexico, The Netherlands and Spain.

The reason for the 12.5 Americans is driver Pietro Fittipaldi, grandson of two-time Indianapolis 500 and world champion Emerson Fittipaldi. He was born in Miami, Fla., making him an American citizen, but he races under a Brazilian passport.

As for the asterisk on the four Brits, rookie Kyffin Simpson was actually born in Bridgetown, Barbados, but grew up in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands — which is a British territory. But Simpson sees it differently and says he’s Caymanian.

“I really feel connected with the people of Cayman,” Simpson said. “It’s cool to fly the flag on the side of my car.”

Make that three Brits and one Caymanian, then.

Both ends of the spectrum

Marcus Ericsson joins a select group of drivers who have won the Indianapolis 500 and also finished last.

Ericsson became the 12th driver and seventh who finished last after winning the race. Ericsson won the race two years ago and might have made it two consecutive wins last year if not for a late stoppage of the race. Instead, he finished second.

The other drivers with both first- and last-place finishes are Bill Cummings, Sam Hanks, Jimmy Bryan, Bobby Unser, Mario Andretti, Johnny Rutherford, Tom Sneva, Danny Sullivan, Buddy Lazier, Juan Montoya and Takuma Sato.

Louis Meyer, Mauri Rose, Peter DePaolo and Kenny Brack have all won and also finished 33rd or worse, but in those 500 races they did not finish last as more cars were racing.