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Guelph’s Robert Wickens ninth in Indy 500

INDIANAPOLIS – Robert Wickens of Guelph finished Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 as the highest-finishing rookie in the race.

“To be the top rookie, it’s pretty cool,” Wickens said during a post-race press conference. “I didn’t enter the race to try to be the best rookie, I was trying to be in the top 10 all day long. We got there in the end, but unfortunately we only cracked the top 10 for the last couple laps.

“Anyway, doesn’t matter. Seemed like an exciting race up front. I was never a part of it. Yeah, I felt like I passed a lot of cars today. It was good fun.”

Wickens piloted his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Dallara to a ninth-place finish, completing the 200 laps in two hours, 59 minutes and 51.9477 seconds. He had qualified 18th and led two laps during the final 25 laps of the race.

“Early on I thought we were looking pretty good,” he said. “We started 18th, picked off a couple on the start. On that yellow we made up a spot in the pits. Got another person on the restart. We were hovering around outside the top 10, like 12th, 13th. First 50 laps, great progress, keep chipping away at it, it’s going to be a great day. Car was feeling great, pit stops were awesome.

“Unfortunately on one of the earlier yellows we came into the pits thinking everybody was going to do the same. Turned out we were one of the only ones that did it. Put us on an alternate strategy. We lost track position. Today track position seemed like it was everything.”

A charge in the final laps of the race resulted in the ninth-place finish as Wickens improved 10 positions after the restart following a crash by former Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan with 13 laps to go.

“I thought we had a top five car all day. We were just stuck in the midfield for most of it, we just couldn’t make inroads forward,” he said. “That last yellow with 10 to go, we had nothing to lose. We put on new tires and restarted 19th and charged up to ninth. Honestly, it was an amazing 10 laps. If it wasn’t for those 10 laps, I’d probably be pretty bummed with my first Indy 500. Passing 10 cars in the last 10 laps was something pretty special.”

Will Power, who had qualified third, won in his Penske Dallara in 2:59:42.6365 while pole sitter Ed Carpenter was second, 3.1589 seconds behind Power.

The result moves Wickens to seventh in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings with 178 points. Power leads with 243.

The series shifts to Detroit for a pair of 70-lap races this weekend, one on Saturday and one on Sunday.

  • Guelph Sports Journal