INDIANAPOLIS -- Rookie Alexander Rossi parlayed fuel mileage into a remarkable victory in the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.
The rookie managed to conserve fuel while the leaders pit in the closing laps Sunday, coasting across the finish line on fumes to give Andretti Herta Autosport a stunning victory in the centennial race.
Clocked at just 179 mph, Rossi's last lap was some 40 mph off the pace, but he coasted his Andretti Autosport Honda across the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's famous Yard of Bricks 4.498 seconds ahead of teammate Carlos Munoz, with Josef Newgarden's Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet third.
"To get a 1-2 finish in the 100th Indianapolis 500 is just unbelievable," winning team co-owner Michael Andretti said.
Rossi is a 24-year old American who pursued a Formula One career until switching to the Verizon IndyCar Series this year. He took the lead down the stretch as a series of cars ahead of him peeled into the pits for fuel. Rossi stretched his last tank of fuel 36 laps to clinch the win.
"At one point we were 33rd, but we rolled the dice and came through and made it happen," Rossi said. "I have no idea how we pulled that off. We struggled a little bit with the pit stops, but Bryan [team co-owner Bryan Herta] came up with that unbelievable strategy.
"I just can't believe that we've done this."
Two of Honda's strongest challengers had their day ruined by a pit lane accident that saw the Andretti Autosport cars of Ryan Hunter-Reay and Townsend Bell incur damage after contact from Team Penske's Helio Castroneves. All three of those drivers led laps at one stage of the race.
Castroneves escaped unscathed from the pit clash only to have JR Hildebrand damage a rear bumper pod on the Brazilian's Chevrolet, dropping him down the order to a 11th-place finish.
The race was slowed by several full-course cautions for crashes, including incidents involving Sage Karam, Takuma Sato, Mikhail Aleshin, and two-time Indianapolis winner Juan Pablo Montoya, who finished 33rd and last after wrecking on the 64th lap.
IndyCar Series championship leader Simon Pagenaud encountered late engine trouble and finished 19th.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.