Held over Memorial Day Weekend, the 2018 Indianapolis 500 had plenty of interesting storylines. Since its inception in 1911, this iconic race is the main event of IndyCar racing, which is the highest level of American Championship Car racing. It’s billed as “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” and considered part of the Triple Crown of Motorsport, along with the Monaco Grand Prix and 24 Hours of Le Mans. Ira Riklis gives you a recap of some of this year’s highlights.
NBA Star Victor Oladipo Drives Pace Car
Indiana Pacers star player Victor Oladipo was honored as the pace car driver for this year’s Indy 500. He led the field of 33 drivers around the 2.5-mile oval track as about 300,000 fans watched from the stands.
Oladipo was traded to the Pacers last summer and has quickly become a fan favorite in Indiana. He made his first all-star game and led the team to a thrilling 7-game series against Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in his first season with the team. The Pacers would ultimately lose the final game of the series, but the future looks bright for Indiana basketball.
He is the first Pacers player to drive the pace car in the Indy 500. Other former athletes who have done so include Lance Armstrong and Jim Harbaugh.
Will Power Wins His First Indy 500
Will Power has long been an accomplished racer, but the prestigious Indy 500 title eluded him until this year. Finally, the Australian took home the title in a wild, crash-filled race on a sweltering hot day in Indianapolis.
The 37-year-old driver was able to take a comfortable victory during the final laps of the race after the two leaders, Stefan Wilson and Jack Harvey, needed to make pit stops. Power’s team had him prepared for the home stretch and allowed him to secure the most triumphant victory of his impressive career.
Danica Patrick Crashes In Her Final Race
The 2018 Indy 500 was Danica Patrick’s last and ended in a similar way to her final Daytona 500 earlier this year – with an unfortunate crash that prevented her from finishing the race.
Patrick lost control of her vehicle when she was in 17th place. Heading into Turn 2, her vehicle spun out of control, crashed into two walls, and was eventually removed from the track. She completed a little less than 200 miles of the 500-mile race.
She finished 30th – her worst career finish at the event and only her second finish outside of the top 10. While the ending may have been less than ideal, Patrick still finished with one of the most impressive careers in IndyCar history. She started eight races in her career – the most for any woman in Indy 500 history.
Hottest Temperatures On Record Impact Race
The temperature at Indianapolis Motor Speedway reached 92 degrees in the early afternoon, matching the highest Indy 500 temperature on record. The track temperature was over 100 degrees. These high temperatures and new aero kits used by cars this year significantly impacted the race, making passing and steering more difficult.
This may have played a role in some of the struggles faced by some of the race’s biggest names. Two of last year’s top finishers had issues early in the race. Defending champion Takuma Sato, the first Japanese Indy 500 Champion, crashed into James Davison’s vehicle from behind and took both cars off the track. Ed Jones, who finished third last year in his rookie race, lost control of his vehicle going into Turn 2 and was sidelined. This meant two of last year’s top three finishers were done just about a quarter into the race.