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Honda, Rookie Racer Alexander Rossi Win 100th Indy 500

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Honda's Alexander Rossi celebrates his Indy 500 win in Victory Circle.

Honda’s Alexander Rossi celebrates his Indy 500 win in Victory Circle.

In the lead-up to this weekend’s 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, Honda released an infographic bragging about its many achievements at the Brickyard over the years. The stats included a 10 Indy 500 wins, more than any other manufacturer. Today Honda improved its record to 11, having the win delivered to them by rookie driver Alexander Rossi, who finished the race in dramatic fashion.

When the two drivers in front of him—fellow Honda driver Carlos Muñoz and Josef Newgarden—chose to pit before the final laps of the race, Rossi made the risky decision to stay on the track. It paid off, as Rossi became the first rookie 500 winner in 16 years by stretching his final tank of fuel for the race’s last 36 laps, four more laps than any other competitor.

“Hondas have always been known for their exceptional fuel economy,” the automaker quipped in a press release following the win.

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“I have no idea how we pulled that off!” said Rossi of his improbable first-place finish. “We struggled a bit in the early pit stops, but then Bryan [Herta, team co-owner] came up with an unbelievable strategy.  Ryan [Hunter-Reay] was incredibly helpful, he gave me a tow at the end to produce an amazing 1-2 result.  It’s phenomenal.  It will change my life, for sure.”

“I have to thank Michael Andretti and Bryan for giving me such a wonderful race car all month.  I’ll cherish the fact that, at one point, we were last, but we rolled the dice and we came through and made it happen.  The [winner’s] milk tasted better than anything I’ve ever had.”

Though his pit stop cost him the lead, Honda driver Carlos Muñoz still managed a second-place finish.

“I knew I had the car to win in the first half of the race,” Muñoz said. “I was just holding my position, the engine was pulling so good. But the last part of the race, I was pushing really hard. I was sliding everywhere the last two stints. I was really disappointed to get second, just half a lap short. But man, it was a close one. I am happy for the team, 1-2 for Andretti, 1-2 for Honda. One day, I will win this race.”

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