Memorial Day Motorsports Triple Crown: Monaco, Indianapolis 500, Coke 600
By Dave Hascall
The Sunday in the Memorial Day Weekend is often referred to by Motorsports fans as the Triple Crown. F1 visits the historic Monaco street circuit in the principality of Monte Carlo, while the Indy 500 is IndyCar’s biggest race, and NASCAR’s Cup Series visited the Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Coke 600, the series’ longest race.
F1 Monaco: Well, Red Bull won the event and is perfect on the season, a given, two-time defending series champ won the race as a driver (almost a given, he’s won 4 of 6A), and Fernando Alonso is surprisingly quick.
Verstappen easily dominated the race, while Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez was classified 16th, two laps in arrears. Perez has won twice on the season, but Alonso placed second but was a “country mile” behind the winner. Esteban Ocon was third, even further behind the resurgent Alonso, giving Alpine their best bright spot since the Spaniard’’s win in 2021 at the Hungaroring.
Rainfall that hit late in the race was the only fl\y in the ointment as teams had to decide when to bring their cars in for wet weather rubber. Verstappen’s crew brought the Dutch racer in for his change of tires, and never lost a lap. He was that dominant, leading every circuit!
Indy 500: Alex Palou led the 33-car field to the green in front of a packed house for the largest single-day sporting event. The racing was run under the green until almost halfway. A few cautions spiced things up, but several late accidents brought out three red flags. One potentially nasty accident saw a tire and wheel from Kyle Kirkwood fly very near the turn two grandstands and damaged vehicles in the turn two VIP parking lot. In 1987, a wheel went over the North Chute fence and killed a race fan, and in 1931, an 11-year-old Speedway, Indiana, kid was killed by a wheel while playing in his yard. 2022 Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson drove Pato O’Ward to the apron, where they touched wheels. O’Ward spun hard into the third turn wall, collecting a few other racers. O’Ward wasn’t pleased by Ericsson’s blocking and vowed to ensure Ericsson crashes as well next time.
The final red flag came with just two laps to go. In many past races, the field is frozen behind the pace car and the leader at the time of yellow will wind up winning. Sunday it was decided to restart out of the pits from the red flag, the cars would drive around and take the green and white flags and the next lap, the checkered flag. Ericsson was quickly overtaken by 2017 and 2019 IndyCar champ Josef Newgarden. Newgarden used a late restart technique perfected last year by Ericsson. Ericsson took second but was not pleased by the decision to restart the race at all. While officials defended the decision to give the fans a green flag finish, Ericsson was seething, calling it “unfair.” He added that he should be the winner. O’Ward is most likely muttering the phrase “karma,” over and over.
Newgarden’s win for Roger Penske was the car owner’s 19th Indy 500 win. Newgarden has tied 1958 winner Sam Hanks at 12, for the longest wait for an initial “500” win. Race fans were really digging Santino Ferruci put A.J. Foyt’s famous #14 at the front late, but settled for third, over Palou, and 2016 500 winner Alexander Rossi. Palau had to drive from the rear after getting crashed on pit lane by Rinus VeeKay.
NASCAR Coke 600: Ryan Blaney ended a 59-race winless streak, taking NASCAR’s longest event, the Coca-Cola 600, at Charlotte. The race, originally set to roll off Sunday, was postponed by rain until Monday afternoon. William Byron took second over Martin Truex, Jr., Bubba Wallace, and Tyler Reddick. Normal Cup races are three stages while the 600 is four stages. Byron, Chris Buescher, and Blaney won the first three stages.