Pagenaud added to Penske’s woes as he, just like Power, was penalized for an unsafe release nearly running Aleshin into TK as Pagenaud left his pit box. Pagenaud would also have to start from the rear of the field. Just like Power, Penske brought him back for a splash of fuel before the field went green. As the field was ready to go green, the yellow was quickly re-thrown as rain began to fall on the North end of the track (Turns 3 and 4). Drivers and fans alike questioned this as no rain could be seen or felt. The yellow was extended for four more laps before officials realized it was a false alarm. (Photo credit: Jeanette Zipf)
Rossi’s pit troubles slotted him between Oriol Servia and another American rookie, Conor Daly. With speed and patience, Rossi worked his way back into the top 10 over the next 25 laps.
The Indy 500 was the return race for Sage Karam and he was looking for redemption. In 2015 he didn’t even make it two turns in the 500 before getting squeezed into the wall. Worse yet, later in the year, he crashed while leading the Pocono 500. Debris from that wreck hit Justin Wilson in the head and Wilson eventually succumbed to those injuries. Karam has not raced in an IndyCar since that day and he partly blames himself for Wilson’s death. Returning to Indy has been a cathartic experience, driving for the Dreyer-Reinbold team and sponsored by Gas Monkey Energy (yes, Richard Rawlings was at the track and yes, Discovery were filming it). Karam steadily worked his way through the field from his 23rd starting spot and his car was looking quick. He was running as high as 6th before trying to pass Townsend Bell in Turn 1. Karam got a bit too high and his car fishtailed before spinning and hitting the wall, skidding through Turn 2. Karam was uninjured, but his comeback race was over. Karam is super fast, but needs a steady ride to gain some much needed experience. We hope the Nazareth native gets more chances to prove his worth.
Karam’s crash triggered the fourth round of pit stops. Once again, Rossi’s fuel probe refused to go in properly and he lost time in the pits. This time, Rossi ended up in 25th, losing 14 positions. He was gutted saying, “I literally was in tears…We had a fueling issue and that was after we already had a rough pit stop, and it was just like, 'What am I supposed to do here? I don't understand. I got us back and then we fell back again. I don't know how many times I can keep putting the car in the position I am to try and get us back to the front.'” At this point Bryan Herta, Rossi’s team co-owner and race strategist, crunched the numbers and realized if a little more yellow fell their way and if Rossi saved enough fuel, he could finish the race on just two more stops (the rest of the field would need three). Herta told Rossi to begin saving fuel, while maintaining track position, a tall order if there ever was one. Just like the beleaguered Power and Pagenaud, Rossi was topped up for fuel just before the green to give him every drop possible.
Despite being clipped earlier in the pits, Kanaan was a strong contender all day. When the green came back out on Lap 104, he was 3rd, briefly taking the lead on Lap 109. He was quickly overhauled by both RHR and Bell a lap later. Two Hondas out-powering a Chevy? Are we sure this is 2016?
The green flag didn’t even last a dozen laps before Mikhail Aleshin spun his Doom sponsored Honda in Turn 1. Conor Daly (shown here) was not far behind and spun trying to avoid the stalled Aleshin. Daly clipped Aleshin’s car and both were out of the race. Daly was able to drive his stricken car back to the pits, but the damage was deemed terminal. Neither driver was injured. Aleshin’s team did get his car back together so he could get more experience on fast ovals, but he was many laps down when he returned.