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By Ron Buck,

Since she couldn't get on the track in her Dallara during Sunday's rain delay, Sarah Fisher found a less powerful mode a transportation in the garage area. Fisher, however, wouldn't have as much fun on the track, crashing with Lyn St. James on Lap 74.


Buddy Lazier
Buddy Lazier,
on finishing second

"(It's hard), that milk tastes so good. I swear, during the race they are milking the cow, that milk tastes so good. I can't wait to drink it again."

Eliseo Salazar
Eliseo Salazar,
on finishing third

"A.J. (Foyt) said to me to always stick to the plan. 'Run at your pace, run at 95 percent.' The plan did not work, but I guess I'll be happy tomorrow."

Jeff Ward
Jeff Ward,
on Montoya's victory

"He wins wherever he goes. Montoya had a victory over everybody today, but we (IRL) saved face because Buddy did a good job. Montoya is a good driver and deserves to win."

Eddie Cheever
Eddie Cheever,
on Montoya's victory

"He won. (Team Target) went out, they were prepared, they did a great job. This place is for racing drivers. It comes down the driver, crew chief, and it comes down to the race."

Robby Gordon
Robby Gordon,
on his team's performance

"We came here to win the race, not come in sixth. Chip Ganassi's team is very good, they proved to be good (today). We were competitive. I made a couple of mistakes, and we were passed."

Jimmy Vasser
Jimmy Vasser,
on his teammate's victory

"We tried to stretch the fuel as far as we could. It just didn't work out. I'm really happy for Juan. It's great. The best team won."

Scott Sharp
Scott Sharp,
on Team Target

"Hats off to Juan. People should expect them to come in and win here. They spend as much money in one race as other teams do in a year. So, they should win."

Wet and wild day
INDIANAPOLIS -- The pageantry was delayed, but the Indianapolis 500 wouldn't let a little rain spoil the day.

Jim Nabors (a.k.a. Private Pyle) sang, so did Mrs. Brady (a.k.a. Florence Henderson). Thousands of balloons filled the sky, as did a pair of Harrier fighter jets, which kept the crowd entertained during the three-hour delay. The Purdue band played between rain drops; beer was swigged and hot dogs swallowed. And when Mother Nature finally allowed the race to be run, things really got fun.

E.R.'s second-most famous doctor, Anthony Edwards, drove the pace car. Indy's thunderstorms weren't perfect enough for George Clooney. No matter, quite possibly the world's largest wave was already being done by fans in the frontstretch bleachers. Oh, least we forget, Mari Hulman George uttered the words "Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines."

Just over three hours later, Juan Montoya drank milk.

Three minutes later, the rains returned.

So what if the first Indy 500 of the 21st Century was a little soggy? The 250,000 who filled Indianapolis Motor Speedway got what they came for -- or did they?

Adopted son, Al Unser Jr., went out on lap 67, returned to limp around the track 22 more times, then called it a day. The IRL didn't put up much of a fight either, as Chip Ganassi's Red Army marched through the "good guys" on its way to Victory Lane.

Even the darling of the speedway, 19-year-old Sarah Fisher, left the party too soon, taken out by none other than fellow female Lyn St. James less than halfway through the race. Sarah still smiled, but her fans wanted more.

Rain ... a hometown loss ... more rain ... a traffic jam of horrific proportions leaving the track. I guess you get what you pay for, which was more than $400 for an average family of four, by the way.

Still, when Indianapolis Motor Speedway opened its gates at 5 a.m. for a caravan -- a whole county of people really -- they were ready. And if they weren't after a night of partying, the track made sure they were by letting off a cannon blast to begin the massive cattle drive into the track's stands and infield.

The Weather Channel predicted a 60 to 70 percent chance of thunderstorms, and it was right. Conventional wisdom predicted a Montoya win. It was right as well.

Although the Speedway never gives out official figures, any issue of an Indy 500 sellout was never in doubt. The scene around the track had reached Woodstock-like proportions.

Best seat in the house: Pole-sitter Greg Ray was a little more busy than the gentleman he met Sunday morning while leaving his hotel. The fan failed to recognize the driver and proceeded to ask Ray where he'd be sitting for the race.

Ray said on the front row of the front straight. The man told Ray that wasn't a very good seat. He then bragged about his seat near the top of the stands in Turn 2.

"He told me he had the best seat in the house," Ray said. "I told him, 'I've also watched the race from the top of Turn 2, but I assure you I have a better seat than you do this year.' "

Schmidt sighting: Sam Schmidt blinked and tried to cope with the drizzle before the start of the Indianapolis 500. Finally, someone arrived with an umbrella, but Schmidt couldn't grab it or shield his face from the rain that delayed the start of the race Sunday. He's been paralyzed from the neck down and in a wheelchair ever since a crash during testing in Orlando, Fla., in January.

"It's a little bittersweet," he said of his return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "I miss it quite a bit. It's hard to put into words."

Schmidt, who started in three Indy 500s, joined Treadway Racing after Arie Luyendyk retired last year, and he won his first IRL race in September in his hometown of Las Vegas.

"I really feel confident that I'm going to walk away from this," he said. "I feel pretty fortunate, actually. I didn't sever my spinal cord anywhere. There's no guarantees with spinal cord injuries, of course."

Schmidt has been going through four to five hours of daily rehabilitation in a St. Louis hospital and hopes to return home in about a month. He even talks about racing again, although "my wife would probably kill me if I did."

Mears' new role: Rick Mears, a four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, was working for a rookie on Sunday. Mears was a spotter for Jason Leffler, whose primary sponsor is United Auto Group, a retail auto dealership that is part of car owner Roger Penske's business empire.

Mears, who retired as a driver in 1993, is a consultant for Penske Racing, which competes in the rival CART series and did not enter the 500.

(Associated Press contributed to notes)

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