Ken de la Bastide: Indiana delivers two memorable open wheel events

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

May 31—With perfect weather over the past weekend, the state of Indiana staged the two biggest open wheel racing events of the Memorial Day weekend.

There was an air of excitement leading up to the Lucas Oil Little 500 at Anderson Speedway and the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Leading up to the Little 500, defending race winner Tyler Roahrig let it be known he was a challenger for a repeat win.

The Plymouth driver claimed the pole position with new one- and four-lap track records and started from the pole.

But Roahrig admitted after the race the first win in 2021 was easier.

The winning driver tangled with Bobby Santos III and Billy Wease during the 500 laps and had a less than ideal race car at the finish.

Early spins knocked Kody Swanson and Emerson Axsom out of contention, and Tanner Swanson was black-flagged for an obvious oil leak while leading the race.

It was a great day for the Armstrong family, but a Little 500 win continues to elude them.

Dakoda finished second, Caleb in fifth and Dalton came home ninth, earning both the rookie of the race honors and Fred Jones Hard Charger award.

Many of these same drivers will compete in the second race of the 500 Sprint Car Tour on June 10 at Plymouth Speedway.

Like in all sports, the changing of the guard at the Little 500 is starting. Popular driver Jeff Bloom failed to make the race, nine-time winner Eric Gordon finished 32nd.

Congratulations to Larry Kingseed Jr., who bypassed his high school graduation Friday, rode the bubble and started 33rd in the Little 500 in his first pavement race start.

Kingseed drove to a 17th-place finish.

The Indianapolis 500 as always had lots of twists and turns throughout the day before Marcus Ericsson saw the checkered flag.

The most shocking thing of the day was the error made by veteran driver Scott Dixon on his final pit stop by speeding in pit lane.

That effectively ended any chance of Dixon winning a second Indy 500.

All Dixon could say afterward was he made a mistake. It's a mistake that will haunt him for many years.

Unfortunately, the ever popular Tony Kanaan, who finished a strong third, said this might have been his final Indy 500 but left the door open to a return in 2023.

Kanaan continues to be a talented competitor, interacts tremendously with the fans and media and will be missed if this was indeed his last Indy 500.

Not a real surprise that Jimmie Johnson was named rookie of the year, but a strong case could be made for Dale Coyne driver David Malukas, who finished 16th on the lead lap.

Johnson finished 28th after crashing on Lap 195 and did lead one lap.

The criteria for naming the rookie of the year favored Johnson winning the honor.

It includes fan and media reaction and impact on the Indy 500, all of which clearly earned Johnson the award.

Johnson has already indicated he would like to run the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day next year.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.