By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
INDIANAPOLIS — Oriol Servia gave Scuderia Corsa their first taste of Indianapolis 500 action and leading the race with an off-strategy call gave the Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan assisted No. 64 Honda all the TV time they could’ve asked for and more.
Servia started 26th following some qualifying difficulties and worked through the field and was in tenth place by Lap 74 before taking the lead briefly on Lap 95 before a pit stop one lap later.
Servia would hover in the upper midfield and gained ten positions in one lap on the Lap 153 restart, going from 16th to sixth. After a pit stop on Lap 157, Servia attempted an alternate strategy of stretching his fuel to the end, hoping for a couple of yellows. The 2011 Indianapolis 500 front row starter got one late race yellow to help him but a jump on the last restart by Stefan Wilson meant that his lead was over and Servia pitted with a few laps to go.
“More than devastating, I would say just the rollercoaster that the month has been for us, we started at the back and we had to take risks,” said Servia. “I took risks on track, a lot and they were working, I kept passing cars going forward and at the end you know they had to take a risk on the stand too.
Servia was on the same strategy as Wilson, Charlie Kimball, Jack Harvey and Scott Dixon. Dixon was the only driver to make it to the end with the strategy he was on but pitted during the last lap under the yellow brought out by Sage Karam’s wall contact.
“We were P8 and we could probably easily have been P5 but we’re here to win and they took the risk to come in,” said Servia. “At the end we were only two laps short so it just tells you that it wasn’t that crazy of a risk and we could’ve won. So, just really proud of the whole effort, when you come as a one race team, it’s really hard to beat the guys that are full season so just to give them a run for their money like we did is great.
Servia’s former teammate Will Power took the lead after Wilson and Harvey pitted with four laps to go. Power would go on to win his first Indianapolis 500 and while Servia acknowledged he had to pit, there was always hope that he would be okay to finish.
“I’m really happy to see my ex teammate and good friend Will Power win the race,” Servia said. “He’s come a long way from when he started on ovals so I’m very proud of him.
“You know, these guys know exactly how much fuel there is in the car but you’re almost like ‘What if I stay out and somehow they miscalculated?’ But they don’t do mistakes like that and I’m sure I was going to run out of fuel.”
Servia led 16 laps, the fourth most of any driver in the field. Graham Rahal and Alexander Rossi were the only drivers that started behind Servia that led
“[Running up front] was great, we showed we had the speed,” said Servia. “We made great passes on restarts and on the track and we worked from 28th to 8th legitimately on track and we took a risk on the strategy and it almost worked. I’m very proud of everyone, everyone’s here to win and we showed that we really went for it.”