American Alexander Rossi was the stunning winner of the historic 100th running of “The Greatest Spectacle In Racing” on Sunday. He prevailed even though his car was running out of fuel on the final lap.
INDIANAPOLIS – After parking in victory lane, Alexander Rossi removed his helmet and sat motionless in his race car for a moment, seemingly to fully grasp what had just happened.
And why not? Rossi, 24, had won the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie after a stunning turn of events in the closing laps.
The native of Nevada City, Calif., inherited a sizable lead after front-runners Tony Kanaan, Josef Newgarden and Carlos Munoz were forced to pull into the pits for a splash of fuel.
Rossi’s car also was running out of fuel on the final lap, and he slowed sharply as he approached the checkered flag at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But Rossi had just enough speed left to cross the finish line and become the first rookie to win the famed open-wheel race since Helio Castroneves in 2001.
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“I just can’t believe that we’ve done this,” Rossi said after taking the winner’s traditional drink of milk. “I’m just so thankful.”
Munoz, a teammate of Rossi’s, finished second. Newgarden was third and Kanaan, who won the Indy 500 in 2013, finished fourth.
“I really think we had a shot,” Newgarden said. “It just didn’t fall our way.”
While the low-key Rossi benefited from his rivals’ fuel-mileage woes, his victory was not an accident.
Rossi initially set his sights on the Formula One racing series, and he reached that circuit last year when he raced in the season’s final five races for the Manor Marussia team.
But after he failed to secure the seat for this year, he moved to the Verizon IndyCar Series, and Sunday he drove in a car prepared by the veteran IndyCar teams of Andretti Autosport and Bryan Herta Autosport.
Rossi started the…