News & Multimedia

Dempsey Wins In Stunning Photo Finish

Coming off Turn 4 of the final lap of the Firestone Freedom 100, Carlos Munoz, Sage Karam and Gabby Chaves were three abreast on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval, urging their cars and being cheered by tens of thousands of spectators on their feet.

Suddenly, Peter Dempsey found a seam close to the outside wall on the 50-foot-wide frontstretch. A bobble and the No. 5 Belardi Auto Racing car crashes before completing the 40-lap race. But spotter Stefan Wilson told him to go for it, Dempsey kept it straight and surged even with Chaves' No. 7 Schmidt Peterson with Curb-Agajanian car 200 yards from the checkered flag at 185 mph.

In a blink it was over, and the 27-year-old native of Ashbourne, Ireland, immediately knew he had won the marquee race of the Firestone Indy Lights season, raising his left hand off the steering wheel, though it was a photo finish. The margin of victory was .0026 of a second -- the closest on an oval in the 100-plus-year history of the Speedway.

That equals 8.47 inches. One hundred miles of racing and the winner is decided by a nose.

Al Unser Jr. beat Scott Goodyear to the line by .043 of a second in the 1992 Indianapolis 500, and none of the NASCAR races at the Brickyard come close. There was a closer margin of victory in Firestone Indy Lights, though, at Chicagoland Speedway in 2007 (.0005 of a second by Logan Gomez over Alex Lloyd).

Chaves was second and pole sitter Sage Karam was .0280 of a second behind the winner in third. Carlos Munoz, who led Laps 13-39, was .0443 of a second off the winner.

"Beers are on me tonight," said Dempsey, who earned his first Firestone Indy Lights victory in his 20th start and moved to second in series standings. "I said it before the race, it’s 40 laps and you go around in circles, but there’s no better place to do that than in Indianapolis Motor Speedway."

"It literally took my breath away," team owner Brian Belardi said. "He did such a great job just holding station. We knew it was going to be a shootout with those three cars in the front and they just poked a massive hole and he was able to sneak in there and just drove a flawless race. He is a great race car driver, we all know. For the team to get their first here, it is so special. Words cannot describe it."

Munoz led Karam by .0914 of a second at the start of the white flag lap. Chaves was .1433 of a second back and Dempsey was .4915 of a second behind in fourth. Munoz, the series championship points leader, was running close to the inside line, with Karam and Chaves in the middle of the racetrack.

Karam and Munoz were running nose to tail -- separated by no more than one-tenth of a second from Lap 20 through 39.

"It was insane. It was a great race, great finish," Karam said. "It was just a lottery at the end. You didn't know who was going to win. That's the beauty of this place. It's a heartbreaker, but we will take it."

The lone caution flag flew on Lap 2 when the No. 67 car of Kyle O'Gara made contact with the Turn 4 wall.

Dempsey gave props to Wilson, a former Firestone Indy Lights driver, for his steady voice over the radio.

"I’m glad he spoke to me as much as he did," Dempsey said. "He won the race for me. He said be patient, get us across the line. They’re going to spread out and you’ll sneak up on them. He’s never won here with himself, but I definitely owe him this one.

"If you’re going to win your first Firestone Indy Lights race, there’s no better place to do it than at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I had a feeling this end was going to happen. And you know it’s going to be four-wide across the line certain enough. It’s massive.

"Belardi Auto Racing gave me this opportunity, and it’s Brian’s first win, so it’s much his dream as mine to win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And I beat the guy that qualified second in the Indianapolis 500, so that’s not a bad thing, is it?”

Show More Show Less
Now Viewing
Dempsey Wins In Stunning Photo Finish
 
Dempsey Wins In Stunning Photo Finish
Coming off Turn 4 of the final lap of the Firestone Freedom 100, Carlos Munoz, Sage Karam and Gabby Chaves were three abreast on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval, urging their cars and being cheered by tens of thousands of spectators on their feet.
Read More
Related Media
Doug Boles
 
IMS, INDYCAR Retain Ties with Purdue Grand Prix
So many go-kart team participants who competed in Saturday’s 60th running of “The Greatest Spectacle in College Racing” at West Lafayette, Indiana, have an ambitious eye toward the future. Be it drivers or team members, these Purdue University engineering students aspire to be a part of the Indianapolis 500, “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
Read More
Fernando Alonso
 
Alonso Begins Indy 500 Learning Process with Visit To Barber
If nothing more can be gleaned from Fernando Alonso’s visit today to Barber Motorsports Park – and his plan to race in the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 28 – it’s that racers share one goal: to be faster than the rest, no matter the car or venue.
Read More
Fernando Alonso
 
Formula One Champion Alonso To Test May 3 at IMS
Two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso will begin on-track preparation for his Indianapolis 500 debut with a test session Wednesday, May 3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Read More
Fernando Alonso
 
'Triple Crown' Remains Moon Landing of Motor Racing
Seven-hundred and ninety-two drivers have strapped into a car on Race Day since 1911 to attempt to win the Indianapolis 500. At least that many drivers have raced on the public roads and long straights of Le Mans, France, with its fields of 50-plus sports cars. And hundreds of Formula One drivers have dared to race on the narrow, unforgiving streets of the principality of Monaco.
Read More
JW Marriott
 
JW Marriott To Celebrate 'Greatest CITY in Racing' with Huge Indy 500 Message
The Indianapolis skyline will again celebrate the Month of May and the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, with a JW Marriott façade installation greeting residents and visitors from across the globe with a special, larger-than-life message.
Read More
Items 1 - 5 of 1,351
Reserve one of our hospitality suites for your next event!
To start planning your event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway please fill out our Information Request Form or contact Laura Wyamn at (317) 492-8557 or email at lwyman@brickyard.com.
Latest Tweets
@ccsmith1989 That does sound right, actually!
about 4 hours ago