Special Sub-Topic: Indy 500: Curse of the Middle
|The seeds of the Curse of the Middle may have been sown the year before. Who won the Indy 500 from the middle of the front row in 1969 and famously failed to ever win again?|
Mario Andretti. After winning in his fifth start in 1969, Mario Andretti made 24 more starts without capturing a second win. The litany of misfortune that plagued Mario and the rest of his family at Indianapolis, came to be known as the Andretti Curse. The Curse of the Middle began at the same time and lasted nearly as long.
|In the entire decade of the 1970s, only one number 2 starter was running at the checkered flag, a flag that came after only 102 laps because of rain. What former and future winner finished 3rd in 1976?|
Gordon Johncock. Johncock led 18 laps in the race but faded to 3rd behind Rutherford and Foyt.
|It took 15 races for a number 2 starter to finish a race that went the full distance. What teammate of the 1984 polesitter, limped to a 13th-place finish, 15 laps down?|
Howdy Holmes. While his teammate Tom Sneva contended for the lead all day before falling out with suspension failure, Holmes went backwards from the drop of the green flag and was the last car running at the finish.
|The most infamous number 2 starter was Kevin Cogan, who in 1982 triggered a multi-car crash even before the green flag waved. Who was the only driver involved not to be eliminated from the race?|
A J Foyt. As the field approached the starting line, Cogan suddenly side-swiped Foyt and rebounded into the path of Andretti. As other drivers swerved to avoid the melee, Whittington lost control and spun into Mears. All but Foyt's car were too badly damaged to take the restart.
|The 1980s were no kinder to the middle of the front row than the 1970s had been. What defending champion was the only number 2 starter to crack the top 10 during the decade?|
Danny Sullivan. Sullivan broke the track record in 1986, but was pushed off the pole by his teammate Rick Mears who went even faster. Sullivan was never a factor on race day, finishing three laps down in ninth place.
|Amazingly, no number 2 starter managed to complete all 500 miles in an Indy 500 for 22 straight years. Who finally ended the streak by finishing 4th on the lead lap in 1992?|
Eddie Cheever. Cheever's race began in bizarre fashion. When polesitter Roberto Guerrero spun and hit the inside wall on the warm-up lap, Cheever found himself thrust into the polesitter's role of pacing the field to the green flag.
|Which of these drivers qualified for the middle of the front row, but ended up starting from the pole on race day?|
Tony Stewart. In his first appearance at Indy in 1996, Stewart qualified second behind his teammate Scott Brayton. Sadly, he became the race's third rookie polesitter when Brayton was killed in practice a few days later.
|While the middle of the front row failed to produce a winner for 30 straight years, how many Indy 500s were won from the other two front row starting positions in the three decades of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s?|
14. Front row starters won nearly half the races during that period. Nine were from the pole, five from the outside, and none from the middle.
|In the three decades ('70s, '80s, '90s), only one number 2 starter even managed a 2nd-place finish. Who was he?|
Davey Jones. Jones led the 1996 race with less than 10 laps to go but had to slow to conserve fuel and could do little more than watch as a fully-fueled Buddy Lazier motored by him to take the win.
|After three decades of misfortune, the middle of the front row finally produced another winner. Who won the 2000 race to bring the Curse of the Middle to at least a temporary end?|
Juan Montoya. Montoya dominated his only career start in the Indianapolis 500, leading 167 laps en route to victory.
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