What the IndyCar suits wanted was an exciting road race in their first ever running of the first ever IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis. What they got was a race that had an almost horrific start to one of their showcase events.
IndyCar used a standing start for the series’ first race on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But on the front row, Sebastian Saavedra’s car simply didn’t go when the lights went out and, after Ryan Hunter-Reay frantically darted around him, Saavedra was clipped by Carlos Munoz and then hit hard from behind by Mikhail Aleshin.
The initial hit from Munoz didn’t seem too bad, but Aleshin’s direct hit sprayed debris all over the track, sending spectators and track workers standing along the wall scrambling for cover.
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, the honorary race starter, was waving the green flag when he was struck near his left elbow and on the left side of his chest by debris, spokesman Marc Lotter said.
Ballard was treated at the scene but did not require stitches, and after treatment he left the track to watch the rest of the race from home, Lotter said.
Meanwhile, as the time seemed to rundown on the first ever IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis, the race leader Simon Pagenaud got the call no driver really ever wants to hear: save fuel.
Instead of going for all-out speed, Pagenaud would spend the rest of the race gently easing into and out of his gas pedal while using his brakes as little as possible — all in the name of trying to stretch the fuel he had left in his tank for the rest of the race.
It worked. With perhaps little more than vapor left in his fuel tank, Pagenaud had just enough left to make it to the checkered flag, holding on to win the inaugural Verizon IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis on Saturday.
This was a huge race for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway because they got to showoff their brand new 2.439-mile Road Course, a layout that both the drivers and the fans thought was a big hit. The next race here will be on Memorial Day weekend for the world famous Indianapolis 500.
Here is the order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):