Veteran Davey Hamilton out of Indy 500 after opening lap crash

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hamilton out of Indy 500 on first lap

INDIANAPOLIS — Raphael Matos’ promising run at Sunday’s Indy 500 ended with a crash, the fourth accident in the first half of IndyCar’s biggest event.

Matos was attempting to make up ground when the green flag dropped following a caution but got loose and hit the outside wall. He was unhurt.

The 28-year-old Brazilian ran in the top five early in the 200-lap race before a pit miscue dropped him back to 24th.

Matos was leaving the pits during a caution when his left rear tire came off and he spun out. His pit crew helped him get back into his pit box, but the mistake dropped Matos’ No. 2 de Ferran Dragon Racing car well back in the field.

“It’s very unfortunate,” Gil de Ferran, team co-owner and president of de Ferran Dragon Racing, said. “We were running great. Raf did a great job from the start. We were running third, staying in touch with the leaders. We were really in fine shape.”

Team co-owner Jay Penske said it appeared a tire was flat when Matos entered the pits and things got worse from there.

Earlier, veteran IndyCar drivers Davey Hamilton, Bruno Junqueira and John Andretti all made early exits after running into trouble exiting the treacherous turn two at the 2.5-mile oval.

Hamilton lost control of his No. 21 car coming out of the turn on the opening lap, spinning into the inside retaining wall with heavy damage to the right side of his car.

Junqueira went out seven laps later when his No. 33 car got loose as he exited turn two and slammed hard into the outside wall.

The 47-year-old Hamilton was making his 10th career start at the Brickyard and his first for de Ferran Dragon Racing. He started 14th in the 33-car field. Hamilton was evaluated at the infield care center and quickly released.

It marked the second straight year that the race’s first lap was marred by an accident. Mario Moraes and Marco Andretti collided on the opening lap last year.

Dario Franchitti took the lead from pole sitter Helio Castroneves shortly before Hamilton’s accident.

Franchitti was still in front when Junqueira, starting in his sixth 500, crashed. Junqueira started 25th for the FAZZT Race Team. Junqueira appeared to be unhurt.

“There were so many cars ahead of me, and my car wiggled and I ended up crashing,” said Junqueira, who finished fifth in 2001. “I brushed the wall too hard.”

Andretti brushed the wall on lap 65 and sustained significant damage to the right rear of his No. 43 car. He had been black-flagged just minutes before for blocking Franchitti.

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