Scott Dixon crashes out of Indinapolis 500
New Zealander Scott Dixon crashed out of the Indianapolis 500 today while pushing the leaders hard near the end of the famous race.
Dixon, the 2008 winner, was fourth when he lost control of his car coming into turn four, crashing backwards into the wall. There was no contact with any other cars and Dixon emerged from the wreckage, apparently unscathed.
He was taken to the infield medical centre where he was checked, cleared and released.
American Ryan Hunter-Reay won the incident packed race from Brazil's Helio Castroneves.
The 98th running of the Indy 500 had gone surprisingly smoothly until lap 150 of 200 when Charlie Kimball crashed on turn two.
Dixon, the IndyCar champion, was fourth at that stage and complained of not having enough speed to battle with the leaders, headed by Hunter-Reay.
Dixon wanted his crew to take out some of the down force from the car and immediately pitted with the leading bunch to make a slight adjustment.
Dixon emerged from the pits to briefly hold third, and had been doing a good job conserving fuel ahead of the final pit stop.
But then disaster struck as he spun out.
Dixon's boss Mike Hull, Chip Ganassi Racing's managing director, felt sheer speed was at the root of the problem.
He said they hadn't removed much down force in the brief pit stop during the yellow flag and had intended to remove more on the final stop. That never eventuated.
"We just took out a small amount. I think you have to realise these guys are racing close to the edge. The top four drivers had broken away and they were running very fast laps."
Dixon had recorded a fastest lap of 360.964kmh and his last lap was 357.127kmh before he crashed.
The New Zealander wasn't the only casualty as heat went on over the final stages on a brilliantly fine day in Indianapolis.
Ed Carpenter and James Hinchcliffe crashed, causing another yellow flag, and the race was suspended with 10 laps to go after Townsend Bell crashed heavily on turn two, spewing wreckage over the track.
When it resumed there was an incredible duel between Hunter-Reay and Castroneves with the lead changing three times before Hunter-Reay edged past the three-time winner with a lap to go and held on for the chequered flag.
It was a disappointing end for Dixon who had enjoyed a promising buildup to the race.
After a disappointing qualifying campaign that saw him 11th on the grid, in the fourth row, Dixon and his team had made some big speed gains in the last practice runs.
His team-mate Tony Kanaan, the defending champion from Brazil, was fastest in the final practice, just ahead of Dixon.
Dixon's crew had also won the pit challenge on the eve of the race, a competition for servicing under the stop watch.
It was a disappointing race for Chip Ganassi Racing in general with problems hitting Kanan mid-race, forcing him to pit for 17 laps and ended his title defence.