INDIANAPOLIS -- A last lap pass of Helio Castroneves gave Ryan Hunter-Reay the victory at this year's Indianapolis 500, capping a dramatic conclusion to the race Sunday afternoon.
Entering the final lap Hunter-Reay was second, but in a power move dove underneath Castroneves entering Turn 1 to complete the deciding pass. Castroneves attempted to re-pass Hunter-Reay but could not rally with his momentum broken and came up just short, finishing 0.600 seconds behind.
The finish was the second-closest in the 98-year history of the Indy 500, only eclipsed by the 1992 race that saw Al Unser Jr. win by 0.0430 over Scott Goodyear.
2014 Indy 500
2014 Indy 500
The victory was Hunter-Reay's first in the Indy 500 and the first by an American since Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006. It's just the third American victory in the past 16 years.
A year ago, Hunter-Reay was leading with three laps to go when Tony Kanaan passed him to steal the victory. On Sunday, it was Hunter-Reay who pulled off the winning move.
"It's a dream come true, man," Hunter-Reay said in Victory Lane. "I can't even believe it. I don't know. This is just the most fantastic team for what they've given me. My dream has come true today and I'm a proud American boy, that's for sure."
A red flag for a large field of debris scattered in Turn 2 following Townsend Bell's single-car wreck set up a six-lap sprint to the finish.
When the race restarted Hunter-Reay was in front but quickly gave way to Castroneves. The two then proceeded to exchange the lead multiple times. At one point, in a daring maneuver, Hunter-Reay nearly clipped the grass in Turn 3 with his left-side wheels to seize command from Castroneves.
"Just a fantastic finish," Hunter-Reay said. "We all raced each other clean but really hard. I think that was a fantastic race. I hope the fans loved it because I was on the edge of my seat that's for sure."
With a victory, Castroneves would have become the fourth driver to win the Indy 500 four times, joining A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears. But throughout the afternoon the second-place car had the distinct disadvantage in passing the leader due to the draft, and short of blocking Hunter-Reay, Castroneves' options were limited.
Before exiting his car a frustrated Castroneves slammed his steering wheel, but was gracious in defeat. The runner-up was his best result since winning in 2009.
"Obviously, the blood is still flowing," Castroneves said. "You want to make sure when you say something, you say the right things. Right now, it certainly doesn't take away the performance that we had. It was a great fight. I'll tell you what, it was great TV. I was having a great time. It's good when second sucks."
Helio Castroneves speaks with reporters after the Indy 500/Photo credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Along with Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport saw four of its cars finish sixth or better -- Marco Andretti (third), Carlos Munoz (fourth) and Kurt Busch (sixth). Juan Pablo Montoya of Team Penske was fifth.
A full-time NASCAR driver, Busch's sixth-place effort came in his Indy 500 debut. Immediately afterward he departed for Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he is competing in Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600.