1996 U.S. 500
|Race 6 of 16 in the 1996 IndyCar season|
|Date||May 26, 1996|
|Official name||U.S. 500|
|Location||Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, Michigan, United States|
|Course||Permanent racing facility
2.000 mi / 3.219 km
500.000 mi / 804.672 km
|Weather||Temperatures reaching up to 63 °F (17 °C); wind speeds up to 9.9 miles per hour (15.9 km/h)|
|Driver||Jimmy Vasser (Chip Ganassi Racing)|
|Driver||Alex Zanardi (Chip Ganassi Racing)|
|Time||30.836 (on lap of 250)|
|First||Jimmy Vasser (Chip Ganassi Racing)|
|Second||Maurício Gugelmin (PacWest Racing)|
|Third||Roberto Moreno (Payton/Coyne Racing)|
The 1996 U.S. 500 was a CART race at the Michigan International Speedway on May 26, 1996. It was the sixth round of the 1996 IndyCar season, and ran on the same day as the 1996 Indianapolis 500, which was the premier event on the 1996 Indy Racing League calendar.
On December 18, 1995, CART teams, convinced that they were being deliberately locked out from the 1996 Indy 500, and the victims of a "power grab" by Tony George, announced their intentions to boycott the event. They jointly announced plans for a new race, the Inaugural U.S. 500, to be held at Michigan International Speedway the same day.
The official reaction from IMS/IRL was one of disappointment and dismay, suggesting that CART was preparing to do considerable damage to Indy car racing. CART participants were convinced of the opposite.
Before the start
At turn 4, a major crash happened, as Jimmy Vasser started a major pileup after colliding with Fernandez and Herta. Other drivers like Eddie Lawson, André Ribeiro, Gil de Ferran, Maurício Gugelmin, Parker Johnstone and Fredrik Ekblom were involved. The red flag was out, all the drivers who were involved, except Fernandez, took their spare cars. The Mexican driver did not restart.
Second start – Lap 67
At the second start, Bryan Herta was slow and Jimmy Vasser had a huge lead at the time of the 2nd start. At the 2nd lap, 2nd caution came out, as Scott Pruett had a blown engine. He retired. At lap 4, the top 6 was: Vasser, Alex Zanardi, Al Unser, Jr., Emerson Fittipaldi, Michael Andretti and Paul Tracy. Restart came out at the 8th lap. But 3 laps later, another caution was out after Fredrik Ekblom had engine problems. He retired. At lap 15, restart came out. Zanardi was the new leader at lap 18. Another caution came out, as some debris were on the track, at the 23rd lap. The top 6 was: Zanardi, Vasser, Andretti, Robby Gordon, Maurício Gugelmin and André Ribeiro. Restart came out at lap 28, with Gugelmin leading the field. At lap 67, Andretti was out after mechanical problems. Caution came out once again. But the restart came just a few lap later.
Lap 84 – Lap 168
Another caution happened as Gary Bettenhausen crashed at turn 4 at lap 84. He retired. Restart came out at lap 97. At lap 109, after 3 pitstops in just a few laps, Robby Gordon retired. At lap 125, halfway through, Alex Zanardi was the race leader. 6th caution came out at lap 128, as Team Rahal driver-owner Bobby Rahal crashed at turn 2. He retired because his right-front suspension was very damaged. Restart happened at lap 132, with Zanardi leading the rest of the field, but the restart did not happen, as André Ribeiro was relocated to the lead lap, and Eddie Lawson lost one lap. Restart happened again at lap 139. The 8th caution of the day came out at lap 145 as Jeff Krosnoff retired after having an engine problems. Restart came out at lap 168, with Parker Johnstone leading the field.
Closing stages: last 75 laps
With 75 laps to go, Alex Zanardi retired after a blown engine. With this retirement came the 9th caution of the day. With 73 laps to go, top 6 were: Parker Johnstone, Jimmy Vasser, André Ribeiro, Mark Blundell, Bryan Herta and Greg Moore. Restart came out with 66 laps to go. With 37 laps to go, Johnstone was out of fuel and retired. 10th caution. 9 laps later, restart came out, with André Ribeiro leading the field after pitstops. With 26 laps to go, Greg Moore had a blown engine and retired. He was in 2nd place. Five laps later, restart was out. With 10 laps to go, Ribeiro had a mechanical problem and lost his lead to Jimmy Vasser, who won the race.
|1||1||12||Jimmy Vasser||R||H||F||250||156.403 mph||21||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|2||14||17||Maurício Gugelmin||R||F||G||250||+10.995 seconds||16||PacWest Racing|
|3||20||34||Roberto Moreno||L||F||G||249||+1 lap||14||Payton/Coyne Racing|
|4||6||31||André Ribeiro||L||H||F||249||+1 lap||12||Tasman Motorsports|
|5||19||21||Mark Blundell (R)||R||F||G||249||+1 lap||10||PacWest Racing|
|6||18||10||Eddie Lawson (R)||L||MB||G||249||+1 lap||8||Galles Racing|
|7||7||3||Paul Tracy||P||MB||G||248||+2 laps||6||Team Penske|
|8||5||2||Al Unser, Jr.||P||MB||G||246||+4 laps||4||Team Penske|
|9||13||8||Gil de Ferran||R||H||G||245||+5 laps||2||Jim Hall Racing|
|10||8||9||Emerson Fittipaldi||P||MB||G||241||+9 laps||1||Hogan Penske Racing|
|11||16||49||Parker Johnstone||R||H||F||236||Gearbox||Comptech Racing|
|12||12||11||Christian Fittipaldi||L||F||G||232||Engine||Newman/Haas Racing|
|13||17||99||Greg Moore (R)||R||MB||F||225||Engine||Forsythe Racing|
|14||25||19||Hiro Matsushita||L||F||F||217||+33 laps||Payton/Coyne Racing|
|15||3||28||Bryan Herta||R||MB||G||216||Engine||Team Rahal|
|16||22||16||Stefan Johansson||R||MB||G||195||Engine||Bettenhausen Racing|
|17||4||4||Alex Zanardi (R)||R||H||F||175||Engine||1||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|18||24||25||Jeff Krosnoff (R)||R||T||F||143||Engine||Arciero-Wells Racing|
|19||15||18||Bobby Rahal||R||MB||G||130||Accident T2||Team Rahal|
|20||21||5||Robby Gordon||R||F||G||94||Engine||Walker Racing|
|21||27||26||Gary Bettenhausen||P||MB||G||79||Accident T4||Bettenhausen Racing|
|22||26||36||Juan Manuel Fangio II||E||T||G||69||Engine||All American Racers|
|23||11||6||Michael Andretti||L||F||G||67||Mechanical||Newman/Haas Racing|
|24||10||1||Raul Boesel||R||F||G||54||Electrical||Team Green|
|25||23||15||Fredrik Ekblom (R)||R||F||G||11||Engine||Walker Racing|
|26||9||20||Scott Pruett||L||F||F||3||Engine||Patrick Racing|
|27||2||32||Adrián Fernández||L||H||F||0||Accident||Tasman Motorsports|
- C Chassis: E=Eagle, L=Lola, P=Penske, R=Reynard
- E Engine: F=Cosworth-Ford, H=Honda, MB=Ilmor Mercedes-Benz, T=Toyota
- T Tire: F=Firestone, G=Goodyear
Standings after the race
- Drivers' Championship standings
|2||Al Unser, Jr.||58|
|5||Gil de Ferran||37|
- "1996 U.S. 500 weather information". Old Farmers' Almanac. Retrieved 2013-07-13.
- "IRL press release 95-12-19". Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Motorsport.com. 1995-12-19. Retrieved 2009-12-21.
- Siano, Joseph (1995-12-19). "Team Owners Plan a Race To Challenge The Indy 500". The New York Times. Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. Retrieved 2009-12-21.