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James Hinchcliffe waits for the start of the final practice for the Indianapolis 500 IndyCar auto race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Friday, May 23, 2014. (Michael Conroy/AP Photo)
James Hinchcliffe waits for the start of the final practice for the Indianapolis 500 IndyCar auto race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Friday, May 23, 2014. (Michael Conroy/AP Photo)

Motorsports

What do Indy 500 drivers do the next day? Not much Add to ...

On tap this week:

  • Indy takes a mental toll
  • Wheldon in a class of his own
  • F1 rookie Kyvat impresses
  • Quote of the week: Villeneuve on being young
  • Vettel doing a Webber?
  • Cracks form at Mercedes

After 500 miles of wheel-to-wheel racing at speeds of more than 350 kilometres per hour, don't expect IndyCar drivers to be doing much on Monday.

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Although they could easily handle another 500-mile race from on the physical side, it's the emotional drain of competing in the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" that takes its toll.

“It's literally nothing,” said Canadian James Hinchcliffe when asked what he does on Monday after the Indianapolis 500.

“To be fair, you're usually recovering from not only being tired but also you usually stay up pretty late on Sunday either celebrating or commiserating and you don't go to bed a at reasonable hour. So Monday is a time of pure recovery.”

And after crashing out of the race with 25 laps to go and ending the day in 28th place, Hinchcliffe will also be nursing a couple of bruises too.

While bumps and bruises need attention, emotion often plays a key role in how quickly an Indy 500 result can be filed away and forgotten.

Last year's Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan thought he had won the race back in 2007 when the race went into a lengthy rain delay and it looked like it wouldn’t be resumed.

Things finally got going again three hours later and then ended abruptly again with an accident on Lap 166 that gave Dario Franchitti his maiden win at the Brickyard. Seeing an Indianapolis 500 title slip through his fingers was a bitter pill for Kanaan.

"The only good thing in 2007 was that Dario won, but that one took me a couple of months to get over," said Kanaan, who led a race high 83 laps, but finished 12th.

"It can take a big toll on your personal life: If my racing life is good my life is good; if my racing is not good, then everything is bad because I am not very good at separating them."

For the Indy 500 winner, having time to recover from the mental drain of the race is not an option.

"I finished the race last year and didn't get back to my bus until 11 that night and then I went out with my friends to celebrate," said Kanaan, going through the events after his win last year.

"Then you wake up at seven in the morning to do all the [winner's] pictures and that takes hours. Then you go to the [champion's] banquet and after that you hop on a plane straight to New York [to appear on Late Night with David Letterman]. It took about a month to get back to normal, but it was a good problem to have."

A detailed view of the Borg-Warner Trophy which is presented to the winner of the Indianapolis 500.
 

By the Numbers: Of the 100 faces on the Borg-Warner Trophy, there is only one driver whose silver bust's position corresponds to the number of his car: the late Dan Wheldon. The Englishman scored his second Indianapolis 500 championship in 2011 while driving the No. 98 car for Bryan Herta Autosport and his face subsequently went into the same spot on the Borg-Warner.

In that year, Wheldon also set the record for the least laps led by an Indy 500 winner at one. The BHA driver actually led for only about a quarter mile of the 500 that day after taking the lead when J.R. Hildebrandt crashed in Turn Four on the final lap.

Unfortunately, two-time Indy 500 winner Wheldon never saw his second bust on the Borg-Warner. He died a few months after his second Brickyard win in a multi-car accident during the IndyCar season finale at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

With the Borg-Warner adding its 101st face this year, it's unlikely any other driver will repeat Wheldon's oddity. Yesterday’s race was the 98th edition, but there were two sets of co-winners, in 1924 and 1941. A 24-karat gold bust of Tony Hulman was added to honour the late IMS owner in 1988, bringing the total to 101.

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