2004 Indianapolis 500

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88th Indianapolis 500
2004 Indianapolis 500.svg
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indianapolis 500
Sanctioning body Indy Racing League
Season 2004 IndyCar season
Date May 30, 2004
Winner Buddy Rice
(450 miles due to rain)
Winning team Rahal Letterman Racing
Average speed 138.518 mph
Pole position Buddy Rice
Pole speed 222.024 mph
Fastest qualifier Rice
Rookie of the Year Kosuke Matsuura
Most laps led Buddy Rice (91)
Pre-race ceremonies
National anthem Jessica Simpson
"Back Home Again in Indiana" Jim Nabors
Starting Command Mari Hulman George
Pace car Chevrolet Corvette
Pace car driver Morgan Freeman
Honorary starter Nick Lachey
Attendance 300,000 (estimated)
TV in the United States
Network ABC
Announcers Paul Page, Scott Goodyear, Jack Arute
Nielsen Ratings 4.7 / 11
Chronology
Previous Next
2003 2005

The 88th Indianapolis 500 was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 30, 2004. It was part of the 2004 IndyCar Series season and the ninth Indy 500 sanctioned by the Indy Racing League. Buddy Rice won the pole position, the pit stop contest, led the most laps, and won the race for team owners Bobby Rahal and David Letterman.

After a morning rain delay, the race began two hours behind schedule. After 27 laps, rain began to fall again and threatened to wash out the rest of the day. After nearly two hours, the race resumed. The race was ended after 450 miles (180 laps), 50 miles or 20 laps short of the scheduled distance, when a severe thunderstorm, which eventually strengthened into an F2 tornado, formed in the area of the speedway, and Buddy Rice was declared the winner.

Race schedule[edit]

Race schedule — April/May 2004
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
25
 
26
ROP
27
 
28
 
29
 
30
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
Mini-Marathon
9
Practice
10
Practice
11
Practice
12
Practice
13
Practice
14
Practice
15
Pole Day
16
Time Trials
17
 
18
 
19
Practice
20
Practice
21
Practice
22
Practice
23
Bump Day
24
 
25
 
26
 
27
Carb Day
28
 
29
Parade
30
Indy 500
31
Memorial Day
         
Color Notes
Green Practice
Dark Blue Time trials
Silver Race day
Red Rained out
Blank No track activity

* Includes days where track activity
was significantly limited due to rain

ROP — denotes Rookie Orientation Program

Practice[edit]

Rules changes were implemented before the start of the season, which reduced engine displacement from 3.5 L down to 3.0 L. In addition, on-board capacity of fuel was reduced from 35 gallons down to 30. The changes were made in an effort to curtail speeds, which had crept up into the low 230 mph range in 2003. It was also in the wake of a fatal accident at the Speedway. On October 22, 2003, during an off-season tire test, Tony Renna was killed in a crash. On a cool 50 degree morning, Renna spun in turn three, became airborne, and crashed into the outside wall and catch fence. The car was heavily damaged, and Renna died of massive internal trauma.

For the first time, single-point refueling rigs were allowed.[1] During pit stops, teams were now allowed to utilize a single combined fuel/vent hose assembly. This eliminated the need for a separate vent hose, improving safety.[2]

Rookie Orientation[edit]

Rookie orientation was held April 26, with seven drivers participating. Newcomers Ed Carpenter, Kosuke Matsuura, Mark Taylor, and Luis Díaz passed all four phases of the rookie tests. Jeff Simmons and Marty Roth passed three phases, and can pass the fourth phase during routine practice.

Larry Foyt participated, but due to previous high-speed oval experience, was exempted from needing to pass the four-phase test.[3][4]

Carpenter led the speed chart at 215.584 mph. Though Díaz passed the rookie test, he did not return with Ganassi for practice come May.

Sunday May 9[edit]

Scott Dixon led the speed chart with a lap of 219.760 mph on opening day. No incidents were reported.

Monday May 10[edit]

Track remained closed most of the afternoon, due to thunder storms. The track re-opened just before 5 p.m. and Helio Castroneves set the fastest lap of the month at 220.300 mph. Late in the day, Robby Gordon spun and hit the outside wall in turn 2 but was uninjured.

Tuesday May 11[edit]

Felipe Giaffone brushed the wall in the northchute, then slid along the wall to the entrance to the pits. He was uninjured. Adrián Fernández became the first driver of the month to break the 221 mph barrier but Kosuke Matsuura (221.857 mph) ended up with the fastest lap of the day.

Wednesday May 12[edit]

Tony Kanaan drove the fastest lap of the month, at 222.668 mph.

Thursday May 13[edit]

Rain kept the track closed until 3 p.m. The session was ended about 10 minutes early when Scott Sharp crashed in turn 1. Helio Castroneves turned the fastest lap of the day (221.156 mph). Buddy Rice was among the top 5 for the first time all week.

"Fast Friday" - Friday May 14[edit]

The track opened at 11 a.m. but lasted only four minutes, as rain began falling and closed the track for the day. During the brief session, only four cars had entered the track with Sarah Fisher (212.616 mph) the only car to run a single lap at speed.

Time trials: weekend 1[edit]

Pole Day - Saturday May 15[edit]

Pole day dawned cool and damp. Overnight rain kept the track closed until shortly after 12 noon. During the first practice session, Tony Kanaan reached 223.224 mph, the fastest lap of the month.

Pole qualifying began at 2:15 p.m. Roger Yasukawa earned the distinction as the first driver in the field. Shortly after, Robby Gordon qualified his car and immediately boarded a plane to Richmond to participate in the NASCAR event that evening. At 3:06 p.m., Dan Wheldon placed himself on the provisional pole position after a qualifying run of 221.524 mph. Several wave offs and two wrecks (Bryan Herta and Felipe Giaffone) characterized the early attempts.

At 4:14 p.m., Buddy Rice took over the pole position with a run of 222.024 mph. Rice held off late runs by Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan to secure his first Indy 500 pole. At the end of the day, the field was filled to 22 cars.

Second Day - Sunday May 16[edit]

Four cars completed attempts to fill the field to 26 cars. After wrecking the day before, both Bryan Herta and Felipe Giaffone put their cars safely in the field. Herta was the fastest qualifier of the afternoon.

Practice: week 2[edit]

Wednesday May 19[edit]

Mark Taylor brushed the wall in turn 2, but suffered only minor damage. Scott Dixon led all drivers at 220.576 mph, while Marty Roth was the fastest of the non-qualified cars (212.292 mph).

Thursday May 20[edit]

A. J. Foyt IV spun in turn 3 and brushed the inside wall, suffering minor damage. Kosuke Matsuura was the fastest of the day (220.784 mph). Marty Roth once again led the non-qualified cars (212.352 mph).

Friday May 21[edit]

Adrián Fernández topped the speed chart at 218.257 mph. Meanwhile, Buddy Lazier joined DRR to drive the #24 car (which later became #91 in a joint entry with Hemelgarn). On his first day of track activity, Lazier led non-qualified cars at 215.513 mph.

Saturday May 22[edit]

The final full day of practice saw heavy activity. P. J. Jones took to the track for the first time but only managed 208 mph. Buddy Lazier led the non-qualified car at over 214 mph.

Time trials - weekend 2[edit]

Bump Day - Sunday May 23[edit]

The final day of qualifying saw seven positions open in the field. P. J. Jones was the first car to qualify (213.355 mph), followed by Marty Roth and others. At 1:45 p.m., Greg Ray filled the field to 33 cars with a run of 216.641 mph; the fastest attempt of the afternoon.

A short rain shower followed, with Robby McGehee sitting on the bubble as the slowest qualifier at 211.631 mph. At that point, it did not appear that any further cars would attempt to qualify. The only driver left on the sidelines was Jaques Lazier, who briefly practiced during the week for Foyt. However, the ride fizzled.

During the afternoon, Tony Stewart came to visit the track. He was running full-time in NASCAR, and had raced in the all-star event the night prior. A. J. Foyt reportedly called Stewart while he was at the track and invited him to practice in one of his back-up cars. Stewart quickly passed his physical and went to the pit area to prepare for a possible qualifying attempt. With little else going on during the afternoon, the rumors quickly buzzed around the track and throngs of media surrounded Stewart to cover the breaking story.

With about an hour left in the day, a car was prepared for Stewart and fired up on pit lane. Stewart had yet to climb in the car but was suited up in his drivers uniform. At 5:36 p.m., however, Stewart left the pits on foot and announced he would not make an attempt to qualify. Stewart's contracts with Joe Gibbs Racing, Home Depot, and Chevrolet precluded him from driving Foyt's Toyota Indycar.

Carb Day - Thursday May 26[edit]

The final practice was held Thursday May 26.

Starting Grid[edit]

Row Inside Middle Outside
1 United States Buddy Rice United Kingdom Dan Wheldon United Kingdom Dario Franchitti
2 Brazil Bruno Junqueira Brazil Tony Kanaan Mexico Adrian Fernandez
3 Brazil Vitor Meira Brazil Helio Castroneves (W) Japan Kosuke Matsuura (R)
4 South Africa Tomas Scheckter United States Sam Hornish, Jr. United States Roger Yasukawa
5 New Zealand Scott Dixon United Kingdom Mark Taylor (R) United Kingdom Darren Manning (R)
6 United States Ed Carpenter (R) United States Al Unser, Jr. (W) United States Robby Gordon
7 United States Sarah Fisher United States Scott Sharp United States A.J. Foyt IV
8 United States Larry Foyt (R) United States Alex Barron United States Bryan Herta
9 Brazil Felipe Giaffone Japan Tora Takagi United States Greg Ray
10 United States Buddy Lazier (W) United States Jeff Simmons (R) United States Richie Hearn
11 United States P.J. Jones (R) Canada Marty Roth (R) United States Robby McGehee

Alternates[edit]

  • None

Failed to qualify[edit]

  • #10 Mexico Luis Díaz (R) (participated in Rookie Orientation, but not official practice)
  • #14 United States Jaques Lazier (became relief driver for Robby Gordon)

Race recap[edit]

First rain delay[edit]

Rain fell early in the morning between 6:00-6:20 a.m. Rain resumed at 9:18 a.m. and continued intermittently until about 10:30 a.m. Track drying efforts began and the start of the race was delayed by a little over two hours. Mari Hulman George gave the traditional command to start engines at 1:02 p.m.

Start[edit]

At 1:07 p.m., the field pulled away for the pace laps, about two hours and fifteen minutes behind schedule. At the start, Buddy Rice took the lead from the pole position. Rice led Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan, Dan Wheldon, and Helio Castroneves.

On lap 10, A. J. Foyt IV brushed the wall in turn four and spun and crashed in turn 1. Foyt was uninjured. Several of the leaders pitted under the caution. Bryan Herta led the field back to green on lap 16. Three laps later, Wheldon took the lead but on lap 22, rain began to fall again and the caution was out again. The field circulated under yellow for several laps and, on lap 28, the red flag came out. Rain was falling hard and the cars were parked in the pits. Many believed the resumption would have to be delayed until Monday.

Re-start[edit]

After a delay of 1 hour and 47 minutes, the race was ready to resume. Robby Gordon, who was attempting to race in both the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600, departed the grounds and flew to Charlotte. Jaques Lazier was standing by, and climbed in the car to drive relief.

Shortly after 3:30 p.m., the race continued. Dan Wheldon led at the green but Buddy Rice quickly assumed the lead. An intense segment of racing saw several changes in position amongst the top 10 and the leaders racing closely together. On lap 56, Larry Foyt wrecked in turn two guaranteeing the Foyt team would finish 32nd-33rd.

First half[edit]

Buddy Rice continued to lead during the next stretch of green flag racing. Dan Wheldon and Sam Hornish, Jr. ran 2nd-3rd.

The third crash of the day involved Ed Carpenter and Mark Taylor on lap 64.

As the race approached the halfway point, Rice still led and Wheldon and Hornish continued to battle for 2nd and 3rd. The top five were still within seconds of each other.

On lap 94, P. J. Jones made contact with the wall exiting turn 2. Jaques Lazier dropped out with a broken axle and leader Buddy Rice stalled exiting the pits. Dan Wheldon took over the lead with Helio Castroneves now second and Rice dropping down to 8th.

Second half[edit]

As the race completed the 101st lap, it was scored official and would not need to carry over into a second day. On lap 105, Darren Manning and Greg Ray got together, crashing in turn four and collecting Sam Hornish, Jr. The three cars slid into the end of the pit wall and came to rest at the entrance of the pits. Tony Kanaan now led with Rice still mired back in 8th.

Kanaan and Wheldon traded the lead a couple times until Marty Roth brought out the next caution by crashing in turn 4. Buddy Rice worked his way up to 5th for the restart. Meanwhile, Bruno Junqueira stayed out while the leaders pitted and took over the lead. Junquiera was gambling that his fuel would outlast the leaders in case rain were to resume.

Finish[edit]

At lap 150, Bruno Junqueira led Buddy Rice and Tony Kanaan. Approaching rain and one final round of pit stops for the leaders was looming and threatened to turn the result into a crap shoot. The first driver to go was Junqueira, who pitted for fuel and tires on lap 151.

The lead went back to Buddy Rice, who was followed closely by Tony Kanaan and Dan Wheldon. Kanaan ducked into the pits for fuel on lap 164 and Wheldon pitted on lap 165. Two laps later, Rice was in the pits, handing the lead over to Bryan Herta. Rain was fast approaching the Speedway and the race was not expected to reach the full distance before the rain fell. More of the leaders cycled into the pits.

Herta gave up the lead on lap 169 in order to pit for fuel. That handed the race lead to Adrian Fernandez as slight moisture was being reported around the track. Fernandez made it to lap 171 but significant rain was not falling yet and green flag conditions still prevailed. Fernandez made a quick 9-second pit stop but lost the lead. After the hectic sequence of pit stops, Buddy Rice was back into the lead.

With Rice leading, Kanaan second, and Wheldon back to third, rain started falling on lap 174. The yellow came out with Rice the certain winner. A severe thunderstorm approached the area and the race was halted after the completion of lap 180 (450 miles (720 km)), 20 laps short of the finish. Lightning forced the victory celebration indoors to the Pagoda.

Rice became the first American winner since Eddie Cheever in 1998. It was also the first rain-shortened 500 since 1976. An F2 tornado missed the Speedway and its quarter-million spectators by six miles as it raked across the south central portion of Indianapolis. The tornado caused widespread damage.

On race day, May 30, precipitation in Indianapolis totaled 3.80 inches; a record single-day amount for that date, and any date during the month since records had been kept.[5]

Results[edit]

Finish Start No Name Qual Rank C E Laps Led Status Entrant
1 1 15 United States Buddy Rice 222.024 1 P H 180 91 Running Rahal Letterman Racing
2 5 11 Brazil Tony Kanaan 221.200 5 D H 180 28 Running Andretti Green Racing
3 2 26 United Kingdom Dan Wheldon 221.524 2 D H 180 26 Running Andretti Green Racing
4 23 7 United States Bryan Herta 219.871 13 D H 180 3 Running Andretti Green Racing
5 4 36 Brazil Bruno Junqueira 221.379 4 P H 180 16 Running Newman/Haas Racing
6 7 17 Brazil Vitor Meira 220.958 7 P H 180 0 Running Rahal Letterman Racing
7 6 5 Mexico Adrian Fernández 220.999 6 P H 180 3 Running Fernandez Racing
8 13 1 New Zealand Scott Dixon 219.319 14 P T 180 0 Running Chip Ganassi Racing
9 8 3 Brazil Hélio Castroneves (W) 220.882 8 D T 180 0 Running Team Penske
10 12 16 United States Roger Yasukawa 220.030 12 P H 180 0 Running Rahal Letterman Racing
11 9 55 Japan Kosuke Matsuura (R) 220.740 9 P H 180 0 Running Super Aguri Fernandez Racing
12 24 51 United States Alex Barron 218.836 17 D C 180 3 Running Team Cheever
13 20 8 United States Scott Sharp 215.635 24 D T 180 0 Running Kelley Racing
14 3 27 United Kingdom Dario Franchitti 221.471 3 D H 180 1 Running Andretti Green Racing
15 25 24 Brazil Felipe Giaffone 216.259 22 D C 179 0 Running Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
16 29 21 United States Jeff Simmons (R) 214.783 26 D T 179 0 Running Mo Nunn Racing
17 17 20 United States Al Unser, Jr. (W) 217.966 19 D C 179 0 Running Patrick Racing
18 10 4 South Africa Tomas Scheckter 220.417 10 D C 179 0 Running Panther Racing
19 26 12 Japan Tora Takagi 214.364 27 D T 179 0 Running Mo Nunn Racing
20 30 33 United States Richie Hearn 213.715 29 P T 178 0 Running Sam Schmidt Motorsports
21 19 39 United States Sarah Fisher 215.771 23 D T 177 0 Running Kelley Racing
22 33 18 United States Robby McGehee 211.631 33 D C 177 0 Running PDM Racing
23 28 91 United States Buddy Lazier (W) 215.110 25 D C 164 0 Fuel System Hemelgarn Racing
24 32 25 Canada Marty Roth (R) 211.974 32 D T 128 0 Accident FS Roth Racing
25 15 10 United Kingdom Darren Manning (R) 219.271 16 P T 104 0 Accident T4 Chip Ganassi Racing
26 11 6 United States Sam Hornish, Jr. 220.180 11 D T 104 9 Accident T4 Team Penske
27 27 13 United States Greg Ray 216.641 20 P H 98 0 Accident T4 Access Motorsports
28 31 98 United States P. J. Jones (R) 213.355 30 D C 92 0 Accident BS CURB/Agajanian/Beck Motorsports
29 18 70 United States Robby Gordon (relieved by Jaques Lazier) 216.522 21 D C 88 0 Mechanical Robby Gordon Motorsports
30 14 2 United Kingdom Mark Taylor (R) 219.282 15 D C 62 0 Accident T3 Panther Racing
31 16 52 United States Ed Carpenter (R) 218.590 18 D C 62 0 Accident T3 Team Cheever
32 22 41 United States Larry Foyt (R) 213.277 31 P T 54 0 Accident T2 A.J. Foyt Enterprises
33 21 14 United States A. J. Foyt IV 214.256 28 D T 26 0 Handling A.J. Foyt Enterprises

(W) = Former Indianapolis 500 winner; (R) = Indianapolis 500 rookie

*C Chassis: D=Dallara, P=Panoz

*E Engine: C=Chevrolet, H=Honda, T=Toyota

All cars in the 2004 Indianapolis 500 used Firestone tires.

Notes: Race halted on lap 27 due to rain. The race was resumed and when rain pelted the Speedway again late in the race, officials waved the checkered flag 15 minutes after the traditional 6 PM closing time. It was only the second time in IMS history racing went past the 6 PM closing time; in 1995, the Brickyard 400 raced into 7 PM because of rain delays. Since the adoption of Daylight Saving Time, the Brickyard 400 will usually run past 6 PM.

During the rain delay, Robby Gordon flew to Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600, which prompted the team to put Jaques Lazier in the car, but a mechanical failure forced the car not to finish

Broadcasting[edit]

Radio[edit]

The race was carried live on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network. Mike King served as chief announcer. Kenny Bräck served as "driver expert." Brack sat out the 2004 season due to a major crash suffered at Texas in October 2003.

Departing from the broadcast team were two longtime members, Howdy Bell and Chuck Marloe. Donald Davidson celebrated his 40th year as a member of the crew, while Jerry Baker reached his 30th race.

Kevin Lee moved from turn two to the pit area. Adam Alexander moved from the pits to the turn two location.

Indy Racing Radio Network
Booth Announcers Turn Reporters Pit/garage reporters

Chief Announcer: Mike King
Driver expert: Kenny Bräck
Historian: Donald Davidson
Color analyst: Dave Wilson
Commentary: Chris Economaki

Turn 1: Jerry Baker
Turn 2: Adam Alexander
Turn 3: Mark Jaynes
Turn 4: Chris Denari

Kevin Lee
Kim Morris
Jim Murphy
Dave Argabright

Television[edit]

The race was carried live flag-to-flag coverage in the United States on ABC Sports. The broadcast was billed as the Indianapolis 500 Presented by 7-Eleven. The broadcasting crew moved to a new booth, located in the Pit Road Suites next to the Pagoda. Several innovations were introduced, including the first 180-degree on-board rotating camera, and a Skycam along the mainstretch. The network celebrated its 40th anniversary covering the Indianapolis 500.

Bob Jenkins was released from ABC and ESPN after 2003, and his position as "host" was taken by Terry Gannon. Paul Page continued as play-by-play, along with Scott Goodyear. Jack Arute, who had been in the pit area from 1984-1998 and 2000-2003, moved into the booth as analyst for the 2004 race. Joining the crew for the first time were Todd Harris and Jamie Little, both as pit reporters.

Despite a lengthy rain delay throughout the afternoon, ABC stayed on-air all day with coverage, and filled the downtime with highlights and interviews. The marathon broadcast totaled 8 hours and 22 minutes.

The introduction, titled "The Chase," featuring Henry Rollins, would earn a Sports Emmy nomination for outstanding post produced audio/sound.

ABC Television
Booth Announcers Pit/garage reporters

Host: Terry Gannon
Announcer: Paul Page
Color: Scott Goodyear
Color: Jack Arute

Vince Welch
Dr. Jerry Punch
Gary Gerould
Todd Harris
Jamie Little

Gallery[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

Works cited[edit]


2003 Indianapolis 500
Gil de Ferran
2004 Indianapolis 500
Buddy Rice
2005 Indianapolis 500
Dan Wheldon