Chilton and Power would pit a lap later on Lap 105. On Lap 114, the leaders all came onto pit road including Alonso and Rossi for green flag pit stops. RHR took the lead of the race on Lap 110, lost it for a lap during pit stops, but retained it once the field had cycled through. After pit stops the order was Hunter-Reay, Rossi, Alonso, Castroneves, Power, Josef Newgarden, Kanaan, Sato, Graham Rahal, and Montoya as the Top 10. It should be noted that Takuma Sato, who had been leading just before Daly’s crash at Lap 66, had dropped back because of a dropped wheel nut and had been steadily working his way back through the field.
The nearly 40 lap green streak ended on Lap 121 when Buddy Lazier spun and hit the Turn 2 wall hard. He had been running a lap down in 27th, but his race had been going many times better than it had a year ago. In 2016, Buddy lost 30 laps at the outset with a jammed throttle and then dropped out when he lost a wheel. A solid finish is what this tiny team needed: not a shunt into the wall. Buddy was OK and climbed from the car following his crash. We hope Buddy and his Lazier Partners team can patch up their DW12 and be back at Indy next year.
James Davison (19) had been working his way through the field nicely, but contact with the rear of Oriol Servia’s car threatened to derails is quiet, but strong performance. The contact broke Davison’s front wing and IndyCar black flagged him as it flapped in the wind. Fortunately for him, Lazier’s crash gave him a chance to make the stop under yellow, though he was given a drive through penalty for ignoring the black flag. Sage Karam (24), making his first IndyCar appearance since last year’s 500, was also having a solid day until his alternator failed, making him the next car to DNF, and the first to retire from mechanical issues.
With Lazier’s accident cleaned up, the race went green on Lap 129. Hunter-Reay had been holding the lead since the round of pit stops on Lap 114, but Alonso was able to get around RHR on Lap 130. On Lap 131, the caution flag flew, this time for debris in Turn 4. Alonso lead the field down to the green for the restart on Lap 134, battling his much more experienced teammate for the lead, with Alexander Rossi in 3rd.
Hunter-Reay was tailing Alonso for 2nd, but soon got passed by Rossi. As he drafted Rossi down the backstretch on Lap 137, his engine note went sour with a bang and smoke began to billow from his car. His Honda engine would go no further. The first Honda casualty of the day would be the driver who had lead the most laps. For the second year in a row, RHR would DNF while fighting for the win.