'Made in USA' Indy 500 win 'great' for the sport

Mon May 26, 2014 1:18pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - There have been more men in charge of IndyCar racing than American winners of the Indianapolis 500 over the last decade and countless opinions as to why the U.S. flag was not flown triumphantly over the famed Brickyard.

But up and down pit lane everyone seems to agree that if IndyCar is ever going to return to its former glory, American fans will need homegrown drivers to cheer for.

Ryan Hunter-Reay gave many of the estimated 250,000 people gathered in the sprawling grandstands reason to roar on Sunday when he became the first American winner of the Indy 500 since 2006 after making a dramatic pass of Helio Castroneves on the final lap and hanging on to edge the Brazilian by .06 seconds.

For the first time since Sam Hornish rolled into Victory Lane in 2006 chants of "USA! USA!" rang across the historic 2.5-mile oval considered the spiritual home of American motorsport.

The significance of the moment was not lost on Hunter-Reay, who was quick to wrap himself in a red, white and blue American flag and share his victory.

"I'm a proud American boy, that's for sure," Hunter-Reay said in Victory Lane. "I'm just so proud of this race, for more than one reason.

"I grew up as a fan of this sport first and foremost. My dad took me as a kid to some IndyCar races.

"This is the biggest one. This is the granddaddy of them all. This is where drivers were made and history is made."   Continued...

May 25, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; IndyCar Series driver Ryan Hunter-Reay during the 2014 Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Justin Tooley-USA TODAY Sports