Under the old rules, Billy Boat would have been done after Lap 12. This year, he got a second chance.
Under a new Indy Racing League rule, teams were allowed to take their cars back to the garage for repairs during the race for the first time in Indianapolis 500 history. Five teams - Boat, Raul Boesel, Scott Goodyear, Greg Ray and Roberto Guerrero - took advantage of the rule and returned to the race, according to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway."We brought the car into the garage and Band-Aid fixed it," said Boat, the pole sitter. "We went back out and ran a conservative race. We were 20 laps down, but we kept going to try and get some points."
The rule was implemented late last year to prevent fuel spills in the pit area. Repairs can be made to most of the car but not the engine, and two IRL officials oversee the work to ensure it is legitimate.
Boesel returned to the garage shortly after the race began because of fuel pressure problems that couldn't be fixed on the track. Boesel lost about 40 laps and only finished 164.
"It's a good rule because it means there will still be a lot of cars racing on the track," said Phil McRobert, chief mechanic for Boe-sel's team. "Everybody likes to see lots of cars on the track, not just two or three of them at the end."
ANOTHER YELLOW LIGHT: The yellow warning light in John Paul Jr.'s car worked all day long - except when he really wanted it.
To avoid a problem like last year, when drivers got the green flag for the final lap while yellow lights were flashing in the backstretch, the IRL put yellow lights in the cars to alert them to cautions.
But Paul said late in the race, the yellow light on his dashboard came on, but it didn't around the track. As he slowed down, eventual winner Eddie Cheever passed him, lapping Paul.
"All day long when my dash light came on, it took a few seconds for the track to go yellow, and actually a couple times it worked to my advantage," Paul said. "This time, my light went on by itself."
MONEY MATTERS: Money didn't mean much at the Indianapolis 500. Not for Team Menard, at least.
Team Menard, the best-financed team at the race, was done by Lap 44 on Sunday. Tony Stewart, the team's No. 1 driver and winner of the 1997 Indy Racing League championship, blew his engine while leading on Lap 22.
Teammate Robbie Buhl's day ended on Lap 44, when his engine overheated. Buhl, who started next to Stewart, picked up some debris and something went through the radiator.
With Stewart and Buhl out, that left Team Menard with only a partial stake in the race. John Menard bought a stake in J.J. Yeley's team, and the Menard name is displayed as one of the sponsors on his Dallara-Aurora.
Yeley spun out on the first turn as the race began in what looked to be the first wreck of the day. But he narrowly missed other drivers, avoided the wall and ended up finishing ninth, three laps off the pace.