2002 Indianapolis 500

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86th Indianapolis 500
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indianapolis 500
Sanctioning bodyIndy Racing League
Season2002 IRL season
DateMay 26, 2002
WinnerBrazil Hélio Castroneves
Winning teamPenske Racing
Average speed166.499 mph (268 km/h)
Pole positionBrazil Bruno Junqueira
Pole speed231.342 mph (372 km/h)
Fastest qualifierJunqueira
Rookie of the YearAlex Barron & Tomas Scheckter
Most laps ledTomas Scheckter (85)
Pre-race ceremonies
National anthemJosephine Holmon (West Point cadet)
"Back Home Again in Indiana"Jim Nabors
Starting commandMari Hulman George
Pace carChevrolet Corvette
Pace car driverJames Caviezel
StarterBryan Howard
Estimated attendance400,000
TV in the United States
AnnouncersPaul Page, Scott Goodyear
Nielsen ratings4.8 / 15
Previous Next
2001 2003

The 86th Indianapolis 500-mile (800 km) race was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana on Sunday, May 26, 2002. It was the seventh Indianapolis 500 held as part of the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series schedule, and was part of the 2002 Indy Racing League season.

Rookie Tomas Scheckter led 85 laps, and appeared on his way to a possible victory, which would have marked the third consecutive Indy win for a first-year driver. However, Scheckter crashed while leading with only 27 laps to go. Hélio Castroneves, who also won the 2001 running became the fifth driver in Indy 500 history to win back-to-back races. It was his second of four Indy 500 victories. It is largely considered one of the most controversial races in Indy history.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

On the 199th lap, second place Paul Tracy was alongside leader Hélio Castroneves, going for the lead in the third turn. At the same time, a crash occurred on another part of the track, bringing out the caution flag. Indy Racing League officials ruled that the yellow came out before Tracy completed the pass, and Castroneves was declared the victor. After an official protest was filed,[7][8] and after an appeals hearing,[7][9] Castroneves' victory was upheld on July 2, 2002.

About 7.46 inches of rain fell during the month of May,[10] considerably interrupting the on-track activities. The second day of time trials was completely washed out, while Bump Day was cut short due to rain. Likewise, six of the ten practice days were either delayed by moisture or halted due to rain showers. Uncomfortably cold temperatures also were observed during most of the month. Private testing and rookie orientation in April was also hampered several times due to rain and cold temperatures. Race day, however, was sunny, warm, and clear.


During the off-season, several CART teams again committed to entries in the IRL-sanctioned Indy 500 for 2002. Penske Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, and Team Green all announced they would return from 2001. Rahal Letterman Racing also announced they would join the CART teams and cross party lines to race at Indy. Due to the MSA, Team Green announced that they would not have primary sponsor KOOL, but their cars would carry the colors of associate sponsor 7-Eleven.

Robby Gordon announced on March 28 that he would attempt "double duty" for 2002 by racing in the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. Tony Stewart, who attempted the feat in 1999 and 2001, announced he would not do so for 2002. John Andretti, who did so in 1994, also announced he would not attempt the double.

During the spring, the asphalt pavement at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway underwent a diamond grinding in an effort to smooth out several bumps.[11] In April, the new SAFER barrier was retrofitted to the retaining walls in the turns at the Speedway. It marked the first installation of the revolutionary-new energy-absorbing technology at an American superspeedway.[12]

Rule changes[edit]

For the 2002 race, all pit crew members that work over the wall must wear approved helmets. This requirement was in response to a succession of accidents and injuries (particularly head injuries) involving pit crew members in series sanctioned by members of ACCUS (NASCAR, IMSA, SCCA, NHRA, CART, IRL). Many pit crews in the series had already been utilizing helmets since about 1999, when Steve Fried, the crew chief for Robby McGehee was critically injured in a pit accident. The accident put Freid in a coma for several weeks.

Prior to 2002, it was only required that the crew member operating the fuel rig was to wear a helmet. It was to protect from fire in case of a fuel spill, and protect him in case he lost his balance. His position between the front and rear axles was deemed particularly precarious. The tire changers did not wear helmets, despite the fact that they were more exposed and vulnerable to injury from other cars entering and exiting the pit lane.

The standardized font car numbers (black numerals on a white box) used from 1999 to 2001 were scrapped. Teams were permitted to utilize any color/font for car numbers decals, provided they were sufficiently visible. Car number decal placement locations were also adjusted. The required car number locations were to be one on the nose, and one on each rear wing vertical panel (right & left).

Race schedule[edit]

Race schedule – April 2002
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
Race schedule – May 2002
Pole Day
Time Trials
Bump Day
Carb Day
Indy 500
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 and time trials[edit]

Practice – week 1[edit]

On opening day, Robby McGehee became the first driver to crash into the newly installed SAFER barrier.[13][14] Scott Sharp and Hélio Castroneves led the speed chart.[13]

During the first week of practice, rain delayed the start of track activity on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Several hours of practice time were lost, with over 2 inches (51 mm) of rain falling in those four days.[13]

Crashes involving P. J. Jones, Mark Dismore, Max Papis, and Alex Barron occurred during the first week. During practice on the morning of pole day, Paul Tracy suffered a major accident in turn 2, demolishing his lone car. Without a backup car, the team was forced to make repairs.[13]

The top of the speed chart changed widely over each day, with no driver atop the leaderboard more than twice all month. Speeds flirted with the 230 mph (370 km/h) barrier for the first time since 1996. Bruno Junqueira finally cracked 230 mph (370 km/h) around 3:30 p.m. on Friday May 10.[13]

Pole Day time trials – Saturday May 11[edit]

Three days of time trials were scheduled for 2002. On pole day May 11, Bruno Junqueira was the first car to make a qualifying attempt. He finished at 231.342 mph (372.309 km/h), the fastest pole speed since 1996. His speed held up all afternoon, and he secured his first Indy 500 pole position. He was also the first driver since Emerson Fittipaldi in 1990 to win the pole after qualifying as the coveted "first in the field."[13] The front row was rounded out by IRL-regular Robbie Buhl, and Raul Boesel in the Team Menard car.

Defending champion Hélio Castroneves managed only 13th starting position, while veteran Michael Andretti was the second slowest of the day at 226.780 mph (364.967 km/h).

The second day of time trials, scheduled for May 12, was rained out. All remaining time trials were shifted to bump day, May 19.

Practice – week 2[edit]

During the second week of practice, three additional days were delayed or halted by rain. Paul Tracy returned to the track late in the week, in preparation to qualify on the second weekend.

Bump Day time trials – Sunday May 19[edit]

On bump day, nine spots remained open in the field.[13] Rain delayed the start by over an hour, but several cars lined up to make attempts. The field filled to 33 cars just before 2 p.m., with Billy Roe on the bubble.[13] With light rain threatening, George Mack bumped Roe out of the field at 2:35 p.m. In doing so, he became the second African American driver (following Willy T. Ribbs) to qualify for the Indy 500.

With some cars practicing and preparing to enter the qualifying line, Team Green withdrew the slow time previously put in by Michael Andretti. The move momentarily reinstated Roe to the field. Andretti's speed greatly improved from the previous weekend, and he safely bumped his way back into the field.[13] With Billy Boat on the bubble, rain stopped qualifying at 3:40 p.m., and it was eventually ended at 4:51 p.m.[13] Jimmy Kite and Donnie Beechler were left waiting in the qualifying line.

Starting grid[edit]

Row Inside Middle Outside
1 Brazil 33 - Bruno Junqueira United States 24 - Robbie Buhl Brazil 2 - Raul Boesel
2 Brazil 21 - Felipe Giaffone Brazil 17 - Tony Kanaan  R  United States 51 - Eddie Cheever  W 
3 United States 4 - Sam Hornish Jr. United States 8 - Scott Sharp United States 23 - Sarah Fisher
4 South Africa 52 - Tomas Scheckter  R  United States 31 - Robby Gordon United States 7 - Al Unser Jr.  W 
5 Brazil 3 - Hélio Castroneves  W  Brazil 6 - Gil de Ferran United States 9 - Jeff Ward
6 France 34 - Laurent Rédon  R  United States 5 - Rick Treadway  R  Italy 53 - Max Papis  R 
7 United States 19 - Jimmy Vasser United States 91 - Buddy Lazier  W  Sweden 22 - Kenny Bräck  W 
8 United States 20 - Richie Hearn United States 98 - Billy Boat Netherlands 55 - Arie Luyendyk  W 
9 United States 39 - Michael Andretti United States 44 - Alex Barron  R  Japan 12 - Shigeaki Hattori  R 
10 United Kingdom 27 - Dario Franchitti  R  Canada 26 - Paul Tracy Brazil 14 - Airton Daré
11 United States 11 - Greg Ray United States 30 - George Mack  R  United States 99 - Mark Dismore

Failed to qualify[edit]

Carb Day[edit]

On Thursday May 23, the final practice session was held. Indy rookie Tony Kanaan led the speed chart at 225.752 mph (363.313 km/h). All 33 starters took laps without incident.[13] Later in the afternoon, Penske Racing with driver Hélio Castroneves won the Coors Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge. They defeated Chip Ganassi Racing and driver Jeff Ward in the final round.[13]

Race running[edit]

Tomas Scheckter is scored as the leader one lap before he crashes.
Gil de Ferran loses a wheel.
Castroneves celebrates his victory.


After a month plagued by constant rain, race day saw clear blue skies and temperatures in the mid 70s (°F). Mari Hulman George gave the command to start engines at 10:52 a.m. EST, and all cars pulled away behind the 50th Anniversary Chevrolet Corvette pace car.[13]

At the start, polesitter Bruno Junqueira took the lead and led the first 32 laps. A record-setting pace early on saw 29 laps completed before the first yellow. Greg Ray brought out the first caution with a crash in turn 1[15] Junqueira and the rest of the leaders pitted, but he stalled exiting the pits, giving the lead over to rookie Tomas Scheckter.

Mid race[edit]

A sequence of pit stops around the 65th lap shuffled the leaderboard. Indy rookie Tony Kanaan took over the lead on lap 70. On lap 78, Sam Hornish Jr. brushed the wall, damaging his suspension. He drove the car to the pits for repairs. Three laps later, while the leaders pitted, fifth place Robby Gordon suffered a large fire and explosion in his pit stall. The explosion blew the top off the pit-side fuel tank. Gordon was uninjured, and the car was able to continue.[13]

On lap 90, with Kanaan still leading, Jimmy Vasser and Bruno Junqueira both slowed with mechanical problems. An oil leak on the track went unnoticed, and leader Kanaan spun in the oil, crashing into turn 3. Rick Treadway also became involved in the incident.[15]

Scheckter resumed the lead after Kanaan dropped out. Meanwhile, Sam Hornish Jr. returned to the track, albeit several laps down.[15]

Second half[edit]

With as many as 13 cars on the lead lap, a very long stretch of green flag racing commenced. Two sequences of green-flag pit stops shuffled the lead among Gil de Ferran, Scott Sharp, Felipe Giaffone, and Alex Barron. However, Scheckter still found himself back into the lead by lap 166. With 30 laps to go, Scheckter held an 8.3-second lead over Paul Tracy.[15]


On lap 173, after leading 85 laps during the race, leader Tomas Scheckter slid high in turn four and crashed against the wall down the frontstretch.[13] Under the yellow, the leaders pitted. Exiting the pits, Gil de Ferran lost a wheel that was not secured, and fell out of contention. Gambling on fuel, Hélio Castroneves stayed out and took over the lead.[16]

On lap 181, the green flag came back out with Castroneves leading, and Felipe Giaffone running second.[13][17] The lapped car of Dario Franchitti slipped by to get in front of the field. Franchitti's car was painted nearly identical to Tracy's,[18] and caused some confusion/misidentification by announcers. With ten laps to go, Castroneves still led Giaffone, with Paul Tracy charging into third.[17] Castroneves was starting to run low on fuel, and his pace started to slow. Giaffone closed within a half-second.[13]

With less than 3 laps to go, Giaffone dove below Castroneves, attempting to take the lead.[13] The lapped car of Franchitti pulled alongside Castroneves, effectively blocking Giaffone. Castroneves held off the challenge, and third place Paul Tracy managed to move past Giaffone for second.[13] Giaffone later complained that Franchitti was unfairly blocking to help his teammate Tracy.[19] With 2 laps to go, Castroneves led Tracy by only 0.22 seconds at the start/finish line.[13] Down the backstretch, Tracy started to move to the outside, in an attempt to make a pass for the lead. While they were approaching turn 3, a crash occurred on a different part of the track.

The lapped car of rookie Laurent Redon got loose in turn 1, allowing Buddy Lazier (running in 8th place) to dive below him in turn 2. Redon came down on Lazier, the two cars touched, and both crashed hard into the outside wall exiting turn 2.[13] At the same time the crash occurred in turn 2, Tracy and Castroneves were almost side-by-side in turn three. A yellow flag came out for the crash, and Tracy completed the pass. Castroneves backed off the throttle,[9] which allowed Giaffone to pass him, as well as the lapped car of Sam Hornish Jr. Many believed at the time that Castroneves had run out of fuel, or was nearly out of fuel, and thought that was the reason he suddenly had slowed down.[9][19] Castroneves claims that he saw the yellow light illuminate on his dashboard, and thinking at first it was the fuel light, and he reacted by letting off.[6]

Believing he had just taken the lead with one lap to go, Tracy proclaimed on his two-way radio "Yeah baby!".[19][20] Barry Green soon responded "there's a problem."[20] Officials in race control, led by Brian Barnhart, stated that Castroneves was the leader.[9]

On the final lap, Tracy, Giaffone, and the lapped car of Hornish, had broken away,[19] and crossed the finish line approximately 19 seconds before the rest of the field.[21] The Corvette pace car, was in turn 4,[5] and was not able to enter the track and pack up the field.[9] At a slowed pace, and running low on fuel,[9][16] Castroneves, with the lapped car of Dario Franchitti immediately behind him (in a car painted nearly identical to Tracy's)[19] took the checkered flag as the winner. Tracy and Giaffone completed an additional lap, and were scored by the computer unofficially as second (82.8341 seconds behind) and third (85.6007 second behind) respectively. Their completion of lap 200 was ignored by the scoring system, and their completion of lap 201 was scored for their finish.[22] Castroneves then drove to the frontstretch, jumped out of his car, and climbed the catch fence just as he did a year earlier in 2001.[13]

Despite the concern for fuel, and after running 42 laps since his last pit stop,[13][16] Castroneves completed his victory lap, and had 1 gallon of fuel remaining in the tank.[9]

Box score[edit]

Finish Start No Name Qual Rank C E Laps Status Entrant
1 13 3 Brazil Hélio Castroneves  W  229.052 13 D C 200 3:00:10.8714 Team Penske
2 29 26 Canada Paul Tracy 228.006 23 D C 200 (−)19.4404 Team Green
3 4 21 Brazil Felipe Giaffone 230.326 4 G C 200 (−)18.2114 Mo Nunn Racing
4 26 44 United States Alex Barron  R  228.580 18 D C 200 +1.4037 Blair Racing
5 6 51 United States Eddie Cheever  W  229.786 6 D I 200 +2.4549 Team Cheever
6 22 20 United States Richie Hearn 227.233 29 D C 200 +3.2022 Sam Schmidt Motorsports
7 25 39 United States Michael Andretti 228.713 15 D C 200 +3.5895 Team Green
8 11 31 United States Robby Gordon 229.127 11 D C 200 +6.1206 Team Menard
9 15 9 United States Jeff Ward 228.557 17 G C 200 +7.5654 Chip Ganassi Racing
10 14 6 Brazil Gil de Ferran 228.671 16 D C 200 +28.5425 Team Penske
11 21 22 Sweden Kenny Bräck  W  227.240 28 G C 200 +32.8195 Chip Ganassi Racing
12 12 7 United States Al Unser Jr.  W  229.058 12 D C 199 Running Kelley Racing
13 30 14 Brazil Airton Daré 227.760 25 D C 199 Running A. J. Foyt Enterprises
14 24 55 Netherlands Arie Luyendyk  W  228.848 14 G C 199 Running Treadway Racing
15 20 91 United States Buddy Lazier  W  227.495 27 D C 198 Accident Hemelgarn Racing
16 2 24 United States Robbie Buhl 231.033 2 G I 198 Running Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
17 32 30 United States George Mack  R  227.150 31 G C 198 Running 310 Racing
18 23 98 United States Billy Boat 226.589 33 D C 198 Running CURB/Agajanian/Beck Motorsports
19 28 27 United Kingdom Dario Franchitti  R  228.177 20 D C 197 Running Team Green
20 27 12 Japan Shigeaki Hattori  R  228.192 19 D I 197 Engine Bradley Motorsports
21 3 2 Brazil Raul Boesel 230.613 3 D C 197 Running Team Menard
22 16 34 France Laurent Rédon  R  228.106 21 D I 196 Accident Conquest Racing
23 18 53 Italy Max Papis  R  227.941 24 D I 196 Running Team Cheever
24 9 23 United States Sarah Fisher 229.439 9 G I 196 Running Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
25 7 4 United States Sam Hornish Jr. 229.585 7 D C 186 Running Panther Racing
26 10 52 South Africa Tomas Scheckter  R  229.210 10 D I 172 Accident Team Cheever
27 8 8 United States Scott Sharp 229.486 8 D C 137 Engine Kelley Racing
28 5 17 Brazil Tony Kanaan  R  230.253 5 G C 89 Accident Mo Nunn Racing
29 17 5 United States Rick Treadway  R  228.039 22 G C 88 Accident Treadway Racing
30 19 19 United States Jimmy Vasser 227.743 26 D C 87 Gearbox Team Rahal
31 1 33 Brazil Bruno Junqueira 231.342 1 G C 87 Gearbox Chip Ganassi Racing
32 33 99 United States Mark Dismore 227.096 32 D C 58 Handling Sam Schmidt Motorsports
33 31 11 United States Greg Ray 227.155 30 D C 28 Accident A. J. Foyt Enterprises


Initial confusion[edit]

Hélio Castroneves
Paul Tracy

In the immediate aftermath of the race, confusion reigned among the competitors, broadcasters, and fans. Brian Barnhart, in Race Control, made the initial call at the moment, stating "yellow, yellow, yellow, three is your leader" ("three" being Castroneves car number) over the director's radio channel, and such was repeated by his assistant Mel Harder over the teams' race control radio channel.[9] Harder was in charge of activating the yellow lights around the track, and the in-car dashboard yellow light system.[9]

On the television broadcast, commentator Paul Page erroneously stated that Castroneves was the leader because the scoring "reverted back to the previous lap."[19] Such rules are used if electronic transponder-based scoring with multiple timing loops was not used, as in the past, but since the advent of transponder-based scoring, the rule has generally been instead of the last completed lap, but the last timing loop the car crossed at the point of caution. Page also, on at least one occasion, misidentified Dario Franchitti's car as that of Tracy's (the two cars had identical liveries).[19] ABC waited over 14 minutes before they showed a replay of the pass or the crash.[23] However, ABC did air split-screen footage clearly showing the crash occurred before the pass.[23] The footage, however, did not show conclusive evidence of when the yellow light came on. However, TV analyst Scott Goodyear was convinced that Helio won the race, referencing his loss of the 500 in 1995 where he figured out that post-race appeals were rarely accepted.

On the live radio broadcast Mike King announced that "race control said the pass would not count."[24] Donald Davidson echoed the same erroneous information that the scoring reverted to the previous lap (though it was last completed loop prior to caution), and added that the cars did not race back to the yellow, as was the policy in NASCAR at the time (the rule was changed in September 2003, when the practice was banned and scoring reverts to the last scoring loop crossed before the caution was called, except in the final lap or a caution that ends a race because of weather or darkness, when it reverts to video replays).[24] A similar controversy took place at the 2019 INDYCAR Portland road course event at the start when a massive crash at the opening chicane caused 11 laps of caution as officials could not determine positions based on video evidence. Officials decided for the 2020 season that scoring reverts to the last loop crossed when a caution occurs. [25]

In the pits, Barry Green immediately challenged the decision. He told Tracy over the two-way radio that there was "a problem,"[20] and later chimed sarcastically that "they (presumably IRL officials) are not going to let one of us (one of the CART teams) win."[20] He contended that Tracy said he had completed the pass before the yellow caution light came on. Tracy said "I feel that I was ahead of him when it went yellow. I passed him, and I saw green. We're going to protest this thing because I was ahead of him when the yellow came out."[13]

Meanwhile, Castroneves stated the yellow had come out before the pass was made. "The only reason he passed me, it's because the yellow came on, and I lifted off. I cannot feel sorry for Paul Tracy."[6][13] Other drivers had different opinion. Eddie Cheever called the finish "confusing."[13] Dario Franchitti, Tracy's teammate, said that "Paul (Tracy) had passed (Castroneves) on the outside before the yellow came out."[3][13] Mario Andretti, however, spoke with Tracy after the race, and said that Tracy was "more concerned with keeping an eye on Castroneves' car" than watching the yellow lights.[3]


Official results were posted five hours after the race, with Castroneves declared the winner and Paul Tracy second. As the cars did not cross the finish line in order, the standings were amended so that Tracy's finishing time was scored as a fraction of a second behind that of Castroneves. Team Green immediately filed a protest,[7] and the hearing was scheduled for May 27 at 10:00 a.m. During the two-hour hearing, Brian Barnhart and Indy Racing League officials denied the protest and presented their conclusions. Officials determined that Castroneves was indisputably the leader under the following relevant times:

  • At the last scoring antenna (entrance of turn 3) before the caution; margin was 0.0371 seconds[21]
  • At the time of the accident of Redon and Lazier in turn 2
  • At the time that race official Brian Barnhart made the radio call for a caution
  • At the time that the dashboard caution lights were activated

In rejecting the protest, Barnhart stated that "Team Green did not present anything that was conclusive enough in any way, shape or form to change our mind."[8]

Appeals hearing[edit]

Team Green submitted a written appeal of the protest decision on June 3.[7] A closed-door appeals hearing was scheduled for June 17.[26] Speedway President Tony George presided over the hearing, with Indianapolis attorney Dave Mittingly assisting. Both Team Green and Penske Racing presented evidence, and several persons involved provided testimony. Among those who gave testimony were Tracy, Castroneves, Sam Hornish Jr., Dario Franchitti, Brian Barnhart (race control), Doug Boles (spotter in turn three for Hornish Jr.), and Jeff Horton (IRL Director of Engineering).[9]

The basis of Team Green's argument was that Tracy was the leader when the yellow lights around the track came on, and that those lights should control.[9] While they acknowledged that Castroneves was leading at the time Barnhart called for the yellow,[9] they argued it was irrelevant unless the yellow lights were on. They also did not dispute that it was possible that the dashboard yellow lights on Castroneves' car came on while Castroneves was still leading. They cited the inconsistencies of the dashboard system from car to car, and claimed the dashboard lights had not come on in Tracy's car until after he had made the pass.[9]

Penske Racing's primary defense concentrated on their interpretations of the IRL rulebook. They stated that at the commencement of a yellow caution period, the positioning of the cars is a judgement call made quickly by the officials.[9] They also stated that the ruling of a car passing another car under a caution period is specifically listed as not protestable or appealable under the existing rules.[9]

On July 2, 2002, Tony George issued an 18-page decision on the appeal.[9] He upheld the victory of Hélio Castroneves, and denied Team Green's appeal. In his decision, George stated that "Clearly Helio (Castroneves) was in front when the call (for the yellow) was made" and that several of the caution signals, including trackside and dashboard lights, a radio announcement and a flag closing the pits, were displayed before Tracy's pass. George also accepted Penske's arguments that, even if Tracy was ahead before the caution, the decision to call Castroneves the leader was an unappealable judgment call.


After the decision was rendered, the reaction among fans, media, and competitors was split largely along party lines. CART supporters generally sided with Team Green and Paul Tracy denouncing the decision, while IRL supporters generally accepted the final result.[5] Many Tracy supporters felt the decision was politically motivated,[1][2][5] suggesting that Tony George favored Penske Racing (a full-time IRL team) and punished the part-time, rival CART-based effort of Team Green.[5] The controversy was divisive, and worked to reopen wounds from the 1996 open wheel split. Robin Miller openly criticized the decision, and considered Tracy "the unofficial 2002 Indy winner."[27] The day after the race, he presented video footage on RPM 2Night, which he claimed showed evidence the pass was completed under green. Shirts and hats were sold at CART events declaring Tracy the "Real IRL 500 winner", which Tracy would be seen publicly wearing at times.

With Tracy officially relegated to second finishing position, he ultimately failed to break a 91-year-old record that dated back to the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911. Tracy had started 29th, and had he won the race, would have set the record for the lowest starting position by the race winner. It also would have been a post-WWII record for lowest starting position for a winner in any Indy car race. The all-time record was set by Ray Harroun in 1911 (and subsequently tied by Louis Meyer in 1936) by winning the Indianapolis 500 from the 28th starting position. Tracy also missed out on matching the record of fewest laps led by an Indy 500 champion, as he would have led only the final two laps of the race (the previous fewest was in 1912 with only 2 laps led); Dan Wheldon would take the record in 2011 with only one lap led.

Starting with the next IndyCar Series telecast, ABC/ESPN experimented with a new on-screen graphic displaying a yellow banner or yellow symbol the instant a caution period commenced. The system was tied to official race control, and was utilized to avoid confusion about yellow-light conditions, similar to the graphic that had been deployed by Fox, FX, NBC, and TNT for their NASCAR telecasts beginning in 2001.

A few weeks after the decision, Barry Green announced he was selling his share of Team Green to Michael Andretti, and would be taking a sabbatical from the sport. He reportedly had spent over $100,000 on legal expenses.[5] Paul Tracy finished out a mediocre CART season with Green, and left the team at season's end. He won one race, and was voted the 2002 CART Most Popular Driver. During his acceptance speech, he thanked Tony George for helping him win the award, and added that the dispute strengthened his fanbase. "Since that whole disaster, I've become a fan favorite. I guess this is like my Borg-Warner Trophy."[28]

With CART facing financial trouble at season's end, Michael Andretti took the team, then called Andretti Green Racing and now Andretti Autosport, full-time to the IndyCar Series for 2003. Andretti Autosport has since scored five Indianapolis 500 wins -- 2005, 2007, 2014, 2016, and 2017. Andretti also is a partner in Bryan Herta Autosport in the 2016 race that team won.

Tracy, angered by the loss, refused to return to the IRL and the Indy 500 in subsequent seasons. On September 23, 2003, when asked if he were interested in driving in the IRL in 2004, he responded "I'm not driving one of those crapwagons."[29] The quote took on a life of its own, and was adopted as a political slogan and battle cry for IRL detractors for years to come. Under the profile section Tracy's official web site (PaulTracy.com) career highlights include "2002 Indy 500 Runner Up (yeah right)."[30] Tracy continued in the Champ Car series, finally winning a season title in 2003, although it came after most of the top teams had already defected to the IRL. He eventually left the series, and had a short stint in the NASCAR Busch Series. In the wake of the 2008 open wheel unification, Tony George himself reportedly offered Tracy a ride with Vision Racing. Tracy initially declined, musing that "I'm not going to drive for hamburgers and hot dogs."[31] In July 2008, Tracy finally crossed lines and signed with Vision Racing to drive in the Edmonton Indy.[32] He then made a highly publicized return at the 2009 Indianapolis 500, and was previously with NBC Sports as one of the network's INDYCAR broadcasters until he left at the end of the 2021 season.[5]

INDYCAR played off the controversy when Tracy won at the Speedway in 2016 at the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational Pro-Am, a race featuring amateur drivers paired with Indianapolis Motor Speedway racers, with the headline "Tracy finally gets to drink milk" upon his first career win at the Speedway.[33]



The race was carried live on the Indy Racing Radio Network. The network celebrated its 50th anniversary covering the Indianapolis 500. Mike King served as chief announcer. Johnny Rutherford served as "driver expert" for the 13th and final time.

The 2002 race saw all four turn reporters return to their assigned posts from the previous year. Kim Morris and Adam Alexander returned as pit reporters, but Mike Lewis departed and newcomer Jim Murphy took his place.

Guests in the booth included Kurt Ritter (Chevrolet), John F. Fielder (BorgWarner), and pace car driver Jim Caviezel.

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

Chief Announcer: Mike King
Driver expert: Johnny Rutherford
Driver expert: Johnny Parsons
Historian: Donald Davidson
Commentary: Chris Economaki

Turn 1: Jerry Baker
Turn 2: Kevin Lee
Turn 3: Mark Jaynes
Turn 4: Chris Denari

Kim Morris (north pits)
Adam Alexander (center pits)
Jim Murphy (south pits)
Chuck Marlowe (garages)
Howdy Bell (hospital)


The race was carried live flag-to-flag coverage in the United States on ABC Sports. ABC and ESPN had reorganized their broadcasting duties, and eliminated coverage of the CART series. Therefore, Paul Page, who had worked CART races since 1999, was moved back full-time to the IRL and Indy 500. Page was named announcer, while Bob Jenkins was shifted to the "host" position. Recently retired driver Scott Goodyear joined the booth as analyst.

Gone from the broadcast were Al Michaels and Leslie Gudel, but returning was Gary Gerould.

ABC Television
Booth Announcers Pit/garage reporters

Host: Bob Jenkins
Announcer: Paul Page
Color: Scott Goodyear

Jack Arute
Vince Welch
Dr. Jerry Punch
Gary Gerould




  1. ^ a b "Conspiracy or not, Tracy has a point". ESPN.com. 2002-05-27. Retrieved 2009-03-14.
  2. ^ a b "500 checkered flag waves with controversy". DN Online. 2002-05-27. Retrieved 2009-03-14.
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  6. ^ a b c "Indianapolis 500 Time Trials - Bump Day Telecast - 2002 Indy 500 In Color". Versus. 2009-05-17.
  7. ^ a b c d "Team Green Appeals Tracy's Indy Finish". New York Times. 2002-06-04. Retrieved 2008-06-15.
  8. ^ a b "IRL upholds Castroneves' win over Team Green protest". SI.com. 2002-05-27. Retrieved 2008-06-15.
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  14. ^ "SAFER Barrier stands up well to heavy first hit at Indianapolis". RacingWest.com. 2002-05-05. Archived from the original on 2005-04-26. Retrieved 2008-06-17.
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  18. ^ 2002 Indianapolis 500 Official Program - Starting Lineup
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  21. ^ a b The original IndyRacingLeague.com Live Timing & Scoring reports scored Tracy's transponder crossing the finish line 19.4404 seconds prior to Castroneves. Giaffone crossed the finish line 1.229 seconds after Tracy. The unofficial, tentative report was deleted one day after the race.
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  25. ^ "IndyCar revamps field ordering for restarts". 3 January 2020.
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  33. ^ "Tracy Finally Get to Drink Milk at Indianapolis Motor Speedway". INDYCAR.com. INDYCAR.

Works cited[edit]

2001 Indianapolis 500
Hélio Castroneves
2002 Indianapolis 500
Hélio Castroneves
2003 Indianapolis 500
Gil de Ferran