This yellow set off the final round of pitstops on Lap 168. 32 laps to go would be possible, though it would require either a bit of yellow, or a little fuel saving. Either way, you could bet the leaders were not planning to be visiting their pit crews again. Davison was able to take the lead from Chilton just before the caution came out for Kimball, but Chilton’s Ganassi team was able to get the Brit out ahead. Ed Jones, who had pitted just before the yellow, picked up second place, followed by Castroneves, Davison, Sato, JR Hildebrand, Kanaan, Servia, Alonso, and Pagenaud.
With the mess from Kimball’s engine cleared up, the race resumed on Lap 171. Chilton held his lead as Jones and Castroneves battled for 2nd.
With the race in its final stint, the drivers turned it up to 11. Sato had battled back from the dropped wheel nut earlier in the race and was running fourth. With Helio and Ed battling for 2nd, Sato was able to catch up and turn it into a three-way fight! With Jones in 2nd, Helio 3rd, and Sato 4th, the three drafted each other and took it three wide down the main straightaway! The crowd held their breath as the three cars dove into Turn 1. All three were able to hold on and Sato came away with 2nd, followed by Castroneves and Jones. Meanwhile, Chilton began to extend his lead as the three behind him fought for positions.
As Chilton was starting the 180th lap, the yellow waved again. Another cloud of smoke and another engine silenced, this time in a papaya colored car. For Fernando Alonso the story was the same, only the scenery different: his Honda engine had failed him. Race strategist and team owner Michael Andretti came over the radio, “I’m so sorry man,” in an attempt to console the two-time world champion. Alonso climbed from his car to the cheers of the crowd. Despite the stinging loss (he was running 7th and absolutely had a shot to win), Alonso was happy. He had lead the Indy 500 and he had completed a near perfect month, acclimating to both the cars and the culture of IndyCar. He even said, on live TV no less, “This is one of the best experiences of my career.” He has already confirmed he will be back in a year’s time: he too now knows that there is no place like Indy.
The restart came on Lap 183. Everyone knew this would be their best shot at making up ground and moving in for the win. Oriol Servia in 5th did not make the greatest restart and the cars immediately behind him, those of Hildebrand, Kanaan, and Davison, tried to pounce on the slower car. Once again, the field went three wide down the main straight. Unfortunately it wouldn’t work this time: Davison and Servia touched and both shot towards the SAFER barriers in Turn 1.