INDIANAPOLIS -- Ryan Hunter-Reay and Helio Castroneves traded the lead during the final six laps of the Indianapolis 500 like a pair of rush-hour commuters Sunday en route to the second-closest finish in the race's 98-year history.
Hunter-Reay became the first American to win the world's biggest auto race since Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006, passing Castroneves with a bold move on the inside of Turn 3 on lap 197 of the 200 and holding off the three-time race champion by 0.06 seconds. That capped a six-lap sequence during which the pair traded the lead three times.
"My dream has come true today, and I'm a proud American boy, that's for sure," Hunter-Reay, 33, said during his Victory Lane celebration. "This is everything I've worked for. I've watched this race since I was in diapers sitting on the floor in front of the TV. My son did it today. He watched me here. I'm thrilled. This is an American tradition."
Hunter-Reay, the 2012 IndyCar Series champion, prevented Castroneves from becoming the fourth four-time winner of the Indy 500, as well as denying team owner Roger Penske of a record 16th race victory.
"As expected, this race was ridiculously close," said Hunter-Reay, driver of the No. 28 DHL Dallara/Honda fielded by Andretti Autosport. "I'm just so proud of this race, because I grew up as a fan of this sport. This is where drivers were made, history was made.
"When I was a kid I looked up to the Andrettis, the Unsers, the Mears. Being an American boy, this is a very international sport with the best drivers from around the world coming here to do battle. The Verizon IndyCar Series is a true driver's series. Having a shot at this race -- just being in the field -- is a privilege."
Michael Andretti -- winless in 16 Indy 500 attempts as a driver -- won the race for third time as a team owner.
"Ryan drove a perfect last six laps for the win. We're so proud to have him on our team," said Andretti, who scored previous Indy 500 wins with Dario Franchitti (2007) and the late Dan Wheldon (2005).
The dramatic finish unfolded after the race was red-flagged to a stop on lap 193, two laps after the day's fourth yellow flew for debris in Turn 2. Seconds after the race went yellow, Townsend Bell spun and made hard contact with the wall in Turn 2. Officials stopped the race to clear the accident scene and repair the damaged barrier.
Hunter-Reay was working on a lead of 0.4678 seconds over Team Penske's Castroneves when the field was directed to pit road for what turned out to be 10 minutes, 27 seconds of downtime.
"Well, certainly, the stop kind of broke the rhythm, but congrats to Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay," said Castroneves, driver of the No. 3 Pennzoil Ultra Platinum Dallara/Chevrolet. "They did an outstanding job. It's a shame it was so close, but today it's Ryan Hunter-Reay's day.
"It doesn't take away the performance we had. I did everything I could to stop Ryan today, but great job."
Marco Andretti -- Hunter-Reay's teammate, son of Michael and grandson of 1969 Indy 500 champion Mario -- placed third. Andretti Autosport's Carlos Munoz, runner-up to Tony Kanaan here last year as a rookie, finished fourth.
Busch finished sixth in his first Indy 500 after starting 12th.
"It was an incredible journey to sniff the lead of the Indy 500," Busch said before leaving for North Carolina.
"Nice drive," Michael Andretti said. "Rookie of the year, buddy."
Carpenter blamed Hinchcliffe for creating the risky situation. "I just didn't think he used his head right then," Carpenter said. "It wrecked both of our races."
Hinchcliffe tweeted it was "100% not Ed's fault," but Hinchcliffe added he thought Bell would pull back to avoid the three-wide scenario. "I honestly don't think Townsend knew we were three wide," Hinchcliffe said.
The Associated Press and Los Angeles Times contributed to this report.
1. Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 200 laps
2. Helio Castroneves,
3. Marco Andretti, Honda, 200
4. Carlos Munoz, Honda, 200
5. Juan Pablo Montoya,
6. Kurt Busch, Honda, 200
7. Sebastien Bourdais,
8. Will Power, Chevrolet, 200
9. Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 200
10. J.R. Hildebrand,
Jimmie Johnson, above, ends his victory drought by winning the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. PAGE 3