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Munoz proves the cream of the 2013 Indy 500 rookies

"It was almost too easy at times just to go by the guys," he marvelled. "It was probably the coolest feeling in my life to take the lead at Indy and lead the Indy 500. That's a feeling I'll never forget."

The biggest problem Allmendinger had was one outside his control, when the seatbelt in the car came undone - a scary thing to happen to any driver at speeds of over 200mph.

"I guess it's God's way of saying, 'Maybe you're not going to win it your first time,'" said Allmendinger philosophically. "I went down into turn 1. I mean, it was 130 laps in, so it wasn't like they were loose or anything, and it just popped out. Maybe it was because my heart was beating too hard from leading the race!

"But it came undone. I tried to do it down the back straightaway. I tried to loosen it back up and stick it back in but it wasn't going to happen," he lamented, having been forced into a premature stop on pit lane to have it taken care of by the pit crew. "The guys did a good job. The stops all day were phenomenal. We didn't lose a ton of time on the pit stop. The only thing that killed us is that it killed our pit windows the rest of the race."

Not that he'd given up: "I really thought, 'With eight to go, I still got a shot at this.'" Then the rest of the race was interrupted by two yellows and Allmendinger never had a chance to strike, ending up in seventh place when the field was frozen for the final time with three laps to go for Dario Franchitti's crash. "It wasn't meant to be. It's really cool for Tony Kanaan and Jimmy Vasser to get their first win here."

While Munoz and Allmendinger stole the headlines, it was also a very solid introduction to the greatest spectacle of motor sport for Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly.

Vautier - already an IZOD IndyCar Series regular this season with Schmidt-Peterson - never really sparked into the sort of form that many expected him to show at Indianapolis but still kept his nose clean and finished in a very creditable 16th place and on the lead lap.

"It was a good race," said Vautier. "We had a very good first stint, made a lot of progress, and unfortunately for some reason the tyre pressures and some other stuff needed to be changed. Nothing major, though, and halfway through, the car started vibrating and getting very loose.

"We were just happy to make up space on the second half of the race," he admitted. "I finished my first Indy 500, so I'm very happy. Big thanks to my team. All of the pit stops were perfect."

Daly on the other hand had a mountain to climb. Not only was he new to Indianapolis Motor Speedway competition (despite being born and raised as an Indiana native), his racing experience has been notable devoid of any oval-shaped circuits, as he's made his name in the European GP3 Series on street and permanent road courses. He was even handicapped by being two days behind the other rookies completing his ROP because he was in Spain competing in that series on the opening weekend of the Indianapolis activities.




Related Pictures

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AJ Foyt Racing`s Conor Daly crashes in turn 1 and nearly flips over on the sixth day of practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Thursday May 16, 2013. (Picture Credit: Mike Young for IndyCar Media)
Conor Daly on the third day of practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Monday May 13, 2013. (Picture Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Indy 500 rookies Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly wait their turn on Bump Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Sunday May 19, 2013. (Picture Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
AJ Allmendinger during qualifying for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Saturday April 20, 2013. (Photo Credit: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves leads Carlos Munoz on the sixth day of practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Thursday May 16, 2013. (Picture Credit: Leigh Spargur for IndyCar Media)
The start of the 2013 Indianapolis 500 - Sunday, May 26 2013. (Photo Credit: Walter Kuhn for IndyCar Media)
Carloz Munoz on Pole Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Saturday May 18, 2013. (Picture Credit: Shawn Griztmacher for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Hawk Performance Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to an 11th-place finish Sunday, August 2, 2015, during the Verizon IndyCar Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. Montoya retains the overall driver`s championship points lead with two races left in the season. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to an fourth-place finish Sunday, August 2, 2015, during the Verizon IndyCar Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 PPG Finishes Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to a third-place finish Sunday, August 2, 2015, during the Verizon IndyCar Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 PPG Finishes Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his third-place finish Sunday, August 2, 2015, during the Verizon IndyCar Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Graham Rahal leads a group through the Turn 2 Keyhole turn during the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal and his father, Bobby, celebrate in Victory Circle following their win in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Podium celebrations for Graham Rahal and Justin Wilson after the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Podium celebrations for Graham Rahal, Justin Wilson and Simon Pagenaud after the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal sprays the champagne in Victory Lane following his victory in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal wins the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal begins the celebration as he wins the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)

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