It’s my second-favorite day of the year at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Indy 500 will always hold the top spot, but a new Carb Day tradition has moved it to elite status as Indy Lights, the top step of the Mazda Road to Indy, has come to produce intense memories with the closest finishes of all time at the Brickyard.
And not just the closest for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ primary development series; we’re talking the closest of any race held on the oval since the first Indy 500 was held in 1911.
If we skip 2015 when Jack Harvey won under the caution flag, the Indy Lights insanity is becoming a regular feature on Carb Day with the 50-lap Freedom 100 event.
In 2013, Peter Dempsey beat Gabby Chaves by .0026 seconds as Sage Karam and Carlos Munoz went four-wide across the yard of bricks. Even at .0026s, it only ranks as the second-closest margin of victory in IMS history, but that image of four drivers fanned out beneath the checkered flag will never lose its intensity.
Chaves, ready to correct the outcome in 2014, took a comparatively large win of .0050 seconds over Matthew Brabham. It continues to hold third on the all-time list.
Last year was an outright disappointment as Matheus Leist cruised home to a 0.776-second victory over Aaron Telitz. In a rare nod to the Indy 500, Takuma Sato’s win over Helio Castroneves was more impressive — just 0.2011 seconds.
But the mother of all Indy finishes — surpassing the unforgettable 1992 dual between Al Unser Jr and Scott Goodyear — stands from 2016. Dean Stoneman, Ed Jones, and 0.0024 seconds (pictured, top) giving the former the distinction of capturing the closest finish in Indianapolis Motor Speedway history
Whether it’s eight Indy Lights cars or 80, only so many can fit side by side as the finish line approaches. Let’s hope that 2016 record falls today.