Dean Stoneman wins closest Freedom 100 by 0.0024 seconds
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The weekend of the 100th running of the Indy 500 got off to a historic start Friday.
Dean Stoneman edged out Ed Jones in the Freedom 100 in the closest finish in Indianapolis Motor Speedway history, his win in the Indy Lights race highlighting a Carb Day that drew tens of thousands of fans.
Stoneman drafted off Jones down the backstretch of the final lap, then pulled around him on the outside as they entered Turn 3. They were side-by-side in a drag race down the front-stretch, and not even Stoneman's car owner Michael Andretti was certain who had won until everyone started jumping up and down around him.
''Then I jumped up,'' Andretti said with a grin.
Stoneman won by 0.0024 seconds, breaking the track record for closest finish of 0.0026 seconds, when Peter Dempsey beat Gabby Chaves to the line in a dramatic four-wide finish in the 2013 race.
Dalton Kellett was third and Shelby Blackstock was fourth, giving Andretti Autosport not only its first Freedom 100 victory but three of the top four finishers in the IndyCar feeder race.
''First time ever for this race. We're so excited,'' Andretti said. ''We've been trying so many years to win this and Dean finally brought it to us, and to have three cars in the top four is a great day.''
It's the kind of day Andretti would love to see replicated on Sunday. One of his drivers, Carlos Munoz, was second-fastest in the final round of practice. Ryan Hunter-Reay was also in the top five, and even Marco Andretti began to find some speed during Carb Day.
They'll have their work cut out for them matching the finish of the Indy Lights race.
''I saw Ed was coming but it was a fantastic finish, right at the line,'' said Stoneman, who has won the last two Indy Lights races. ''It was a great finish. I don't know what to say.''
The Englishman joined Andretti Autosport for his first Mazda Road to Indy season this year. He had been competing in the World Series by Renault, FIA GP3, and Porsche Carrera Cup Great Britain.
Jones had qualified on the pole and spent the entire race running up front.
''It's so frustrating to lose the race like that. We went back and forth,'' he said. ''I got the lead into Turn 1 and thought I had the good run and was running away, and then the draft down the back straight and I made the decision to stay inside, and he got the momentum on the outside and he just beat me to the line.
''I blame myself for this one,'' Jones said. ''You can't believe it.''