May 24, 2015 12:57 PM

The Latest: Indy 500 off to rough start for several drivers

The Associated Press

The Associated Press covers the biggest day in motorsports, from Formula One's Monaco Grand Prix to the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600. The latest from the tracks:

12:55 p.m. ET

The hits kept on coming in the early stages of the Indy 500.

After a wreck on the opening lap knocked out one of the contenders, Sage Karam, and caused damage to the car of Takuma Sato, it appeared the Simona de Silvestro got into the rear of Juan Pablo Montoya while the caution flag was flying.

There was a piece of the carbon fiber wing hanging off Montoya's car as he went around the track under yellow. It finally snapped off before he went into the pits.

The former Indy 500 winner managed to change the entire rear section of his wing while under caution, so despite losing track position he was still on the lead lap.


12:40 p.m. ET

The Indianapolis 500 got off to a rocky start.

After the No. 43 car of Conor Daly caught on fire during the parade laps, the race went green under sun-splashed skies. But before the first lap was complete, Takuma Sato attempted a risky pass on the outside of Sage Karam, causing damage to both cars.

Sato went high between Turns 3 and 4 and Karam didn't see him coming along the wall. The 20-year-old driver for Chip Ganassi Racing hit hard into the SAFER barrier, his car eventually sliding to a stop with heavy right-side damage.

Ryan Briscoe was hit by James Davison as he tried to avoid the wreck, but the fill-in for James Hinchcliffe managed to keep his car out of the wall.

Even before the parade laps, there was trouble. Alex Tagliani couldn't get his car into gear, leaving him sitting on the front stretch as the field pulled away. He finally got the car going.


11:40 a.m. ET

Most of the grandstands were full an hour before the start of the Indianapolis 500, the threat of rain earlier in the week washed away and replaced by a perfect Memorial Day weekend.

Drivers were greeted by roars during introductions, which take place on the front stretch near the start-finish line. The usual stars got the biggest ovations, but a few others got big rounds of applause. Among them was Ryan Briscoe, who was chosen this week to replace the injured James Hinchcliffe for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

Scott Dixon, Will Power and Simon Pagenaud were in the first row. Eleven rows behind was Briscoe, who has to start in the back because of the late driver change.

In fact, the entire last row has changed. James Davison must start there after Tristan Vautier qualified his car because of a scheduling conflict, while Vautier jumped into the Dale Coyne Racing car of Carlos Huertas after he failed to pass a medical exam.


11 a.m. ET

As the cars began heading to the starting grid for the Indy 500, four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon was trying to corner the drivers who were starting on the front row.

Gordon was chosen to drive the pace car for Sunday's race, and he wanted pole sitter Scott Dixon to let him know exactly how he prefers to start. Gordon will be responsible for setting the pace as cars get up to speed, then diving off at the last minute before the green flag.

"Being on the front row," Gordon said, "I've seen some bad pace car drivers."

No worries. He's been coached up by three-time Indy 500 winner Johnny Rutherford, who normally drives the pace car and will take over once the green flag flies.

"Hopefully do everything right that Johnny tells me to do," Gordon said. "The hardest thing will be to get out of the driver's seat of that car, and it'll be hard to leave the Indy 500, but certainly have a lot to do in Charlotte this evening as well."


4:15 p.m. Monaco (1415 GMT)

Lewis Hamilton vows to fight back after being denied his fourth win of the season at the Monaco Grand Prix following a crash involving Max Verstappen.

Hamilton was on his way to a victory when Verstappen's crash led to a safety car going out on track. After being called back to the pits by his Mercedes team, Hamilton found himself behind Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, who won the race.

Mercedes head of motorsport Toto Wolff told broadcaster Sky that it was a mistake to call him into the pits.

"It was a complete misjudgment. I'm just so sorry," Wolff said. "There's nothing to do but apologize."

Asked how he will respond, a dejected-looking Hamilton said: "Come back to win the next one."

"It wasn't the easiest of races, but the team has been amazing all year long and we win and lose together," Hamilton said. "I'm sure we'll sit down after this."

Rosberg was modest in victory, saying: "I know that I got lucky today, so I'll just enjoy the moment now. But I need to work hard because Lewis was a bit stronger today."


3:59 p.m. Monaco (1359 GMT)

Nico Rosberg has joined a very special group in winning the Monaco Grand Prix for the third consecutive time.

Ayrton Senna of Brazil, Frenchman Alain Prost and Briton Graham Hill all did it and it looked until very late in Sunday's race that Rosberg had no shot at history. He trailed teammate Lewis Hamilton by 15 seconds with 15 laps remaining, but Hamilton was bumped to third place behind the safety car following a crash involving Max Verstappen.

Rosberg, who grew up steeped in Formula One folklore as the son of 1982 F1 champion Keke Rosberg, was able to get to the front and win in front of friends and family. The F1 runner-up last year to Hamilton, the 29-year-old Rosberg was raised in Monaco and knows its surrounding streets better than anyone.


3:52 p.m. Monaco (1352 GMT)

Nico Rosberg has won the Monaco Grand Prix for the third straight year after a late crash involving teenager Max Verstappen undid Lewis Hamilton's bid for a fourth win of the season.

Hamilton was cruising toward his 37th career win until the 17-year-old Verstappen rammed his Toro Rosso into the back of Romain Grosjean as he tried to overtake the Lotus driver. That meant a safety car had to come out at the start of the 64th lap, and when it did Hamilton suddenly found himself behind both Rosberg and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.

When the safety car left, Hamilton had only a few laps to try and get past Vettel and Rosberg on the most difficult track to overtake a driver on F1. Instead, Vettel was second and Hamilton a disappointing third.

It was Rosberg's second win of the season following his win two weeks ago at the Spanish GP.


3:30 p.m. Monaco (1330 GMT)

Lewis Hamilton is now third late in the Monaco Grand Prix after a wreck.

Teenage driver Max Verstappen had never driven at the Monaco Grand Prix before, and the 17-year-old's race was ended on lap 65 when he clipped the back of Romain Grosjean's Lotus and plunged his Toro Rosso car into the crash barriers.

Verstappen, the son of former F1 driver Jos Verstappen, tried a daring overtaking move on Grosjean's right but there was no room.

Verstappen was unharmed as he climbed out of his car and the race was momentarily held up as a virtual safety car came out.

Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel were behind the safety car and Hamilton, the race leader throughout, was bumped to third.


9:15 a.m. ET

The hive of activity surrounding Oriol Servia's garage in Indianapolis? It isn't for the driver.

David Letterman has arrived at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, just days after calling it a career after more than three decades in late-night television. Letterman is part owner of the team that will field a car for Servia alongside Graham Rahal in Sunday's race.

Letterman was born and raised in Indianapolis, spending his formative years in the Broad Ripple section of town. He went to Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, and early in his career served as a pit reporter for ABC search on YouTube for his interview of Mario Andretti after the former champion crashed out of the 1971 race.

Letterman got into team ownership in the 1990s with former Indy 500 champion Bobby Rahal, and businessman Mike Lanigan came aboard to form what is now Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

Servia's yellow car was dressed Sunday in "The Late Show" regalia, while Rahal also had a tribute to Letterman on his car. Team members wore gray T-shirts with their own "Top Ten" list of reasons they love Letterman, such as: "He still calls A.J., 'Mr. Foyt.'"

"Of course he's from here, but his love for this place is extreme," said Graham Rahal, who was a regular guest on "The Late Show" along with numerous other IndyCar drivers. "He pays attention, week-in and week-out. He knows exactly what's happening."

Around the corner, in the CFH Racing garage, former Masters and U.S. Open champion Fuzzy Zoeller is chatting it up with some team members. The Hoosier native has a liquor company that sponsors Ed Carpenter, another Indiana native and two-time Indianapolis 500 pole winner.

In the shadows of the pagoda, Pacers star Paul George is signing autographs for fans. He is joined by a patient from the Riley Hospital for Children who is delivering the green flag.

Members of the country music super-group Florida Georgia Line, who performed at the speedway on Saturday night, are on hand. So is Danielle Bradbery, who won NBC's "The Voice" and will sing "America the Beautiful," and former "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks, who will perform the national anthem shortly before drivers climb into their cars.

One celebrity missing this year is Jim Nabors, known to some as Gomer Pyle but to those around her as the voice of "(Back Home Again in) Indiana." After dealing with health problems for years, Nabors decided to retire last year. The a cappella group Straight No Chaser will lead this year's rendition.

Dave Skretta reporting from Indianapolis.


3:14 p.m. Monaco (1314 GMT)

Lewis Hamilton looks well set for victory at the Monaco Grand Prix after a clean pit stop for new tires.

Hamilton waited until the 40th of 78 laps to take his stop, with his Mercedes teammate and rival Nico Rosberg pitted for his two laps earlier.

With 30 laps remaining, Hamilton leads Rosberg by 10 seconds, a huge margin on a track so notoriously difficult to overtake on. It will likely take an accident now to stop Hamilton from winning his fourth race out of six this season and 37th of his career.

The top three positions from qualifying looked likely to stay the same, too, with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel trailing Hamilton by 12 seconds.

Behind them, Russian driver Daniil Kvyat was in fourth place and driving smoothly for Red Bull, and Fernando Alonso retired for the second straight race after his McLaren let him down again just like it did in Spain two weeks ago.


3 p.m. Monaco (1300 GMT)

While drivers fight for position at the Monaco Grand Prix, Jules Bianchi fights for his life in a nearby hospital.

It was at last year's Monaco GP that the French driver secured a ninth-place finish, the best in the short history of the team then known as Marussia. Several months later, Bianchi was in a horrific accident at a gloomy, rain-soaked Japanese Grand Prix on Oct. 5 and has been in a life-threatening coma since.

He is still recovering from his head injuries in Nice, near Monaco.

Bianchi's team, which is now known as Manor, has been wearing red wristbands the color of the team during this weekend's race as a tribute to the 25-year-old Bianchi.


2:40 p.m. Monaco (1240 GMT)

Drivers communicate with their team engineers throughout the race weekend over radio, and it sometimes makes for some colorful conversations under the stress of racing.

Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen told his former Lotus team to leave him alone when they gave him advice, and this season Nico Rosberg barked at his Mercedes crew after just missing out on pole position in qualifying.

Conversations have been polite so far at the Monaco GP, with Lewis Hamilton politely asking "What can I do to save those brakes, I'm having to drive so slow right now" and Rosberg's race crew urging him to close the gap on Hamilton as he started to drift further behind.

With 25 of 78 laps raced, Rosberg was five seconds behind Hamilton, with both yet to take their pit stops.


2:20 p.m. Monaco (1220 GMT)

McLaren got off to a poor start at the Monaco Grand Prix with Fernando Alonso given a five-second penalty for nudging Nico Hulkenberg's Force India into the barriers.

It has been a terrible season for McLaren so far, with no points from the first five races, and this latest incident came at the Mirabeau turn as Alonso tried to make his way through heavy traffic.

Hulkenberg was able to continue after taking a pit stop to change his front wing, and Alonso will have to serve the time penalty when he enters the pits.

Meanwhile, the race ended early for Venezuelan driver Pastor Maldonado as the brakes failed on his Lotus.


2:10 p.m. Monaco (1210 GMT)

Formula One leader Lewis Hamilton made a clean start from pole position at the Monaco Grand Prix, holding off Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg.

It's a relief for Hamilton, who was starting from pole for the first time in Monaco and was coming off a poor start at the Spanish GP two weeks ago.

Rosberg, meanwhile, held his spot well under pressure from Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, who started from third on the grid and tried to squeeze past him.


1:30 p.m. Monaco (1130 GMT)

With the Cannes Film Festival a short drive away, celebrity spotting has always been easy at the Monaco Grand Prix.

In the 1960s, it was film stars like Swedish actress Britt Ekland and British actor Peter Sellers who turned up. In more recent years, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio have all attended the glamorous event.

This year, Michael Fassbender was spotted shortly before Sunday's race, while Real Madrid's soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo turned up with British fashion model Cara Delevingne.

While Ronaldo chatted with Formula One driver Fernando Alonso who is a huge soccer fan in the pit lane, Delevingne sat on a McLaren car wheel.

Liam Payne of pop band One Direction was also seen strolling around the paddock area, and former world ski champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany also attended.

In this rich playground, it's a case of the haves and the have yachts.


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