2004 Indianapolis 500

88th Indianapolis 500
2004 Indianapolis 500.svg
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indianapolis 500
Sanctioning bodyIndy Racing League
Season2004 IndyCar season
DateMay 30, 2004
WinnerBuddy Rice
(450 miles due to rain)
Winning teamRahal Letterman Racing
Average speed138.518 mph
Pole positionBuddy Rice
Pole speed222.024 mph
Fastest qualifierRice
Rookie of the YearKosuke Matsuura
Most laps ledBuddy Rice (91)
Pre-race ceremonies
National anthemJessica Simpson
"Back Home Again in Indiana"Jim Nabors
Starting CommandMari Hulman George
Pace carChevrolet Corvette
Pace car driverMorgan Freeman
StarterBryan Howard
Honorary starterNick Lachey
Estimated attendance300,000 (estimated)
TV in the United States
NetworkABC
AnnouncersPaul Page, Scott Goodyear, Jack Arute
Nielsen Ratings4.7 / 11
Chronology
PreviousNext
20032005

The 88th Indianapolis 500 was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana on Sunday, May 30, 2004. It was part of the 2004 IndyCar Series season and the ninth Indy 500 sanctioned by the Indy Racing League. Buddy Rice won the pole position, the pit stop contest, led the most laps, and won the race for team owners Bobby Rahal and David Letterman.

The race began about two hours behind schedule due to a morning rain delay. After 27 laps had been completed, rain began to fall again and threatened to wash out the rest of the day. About two hours later, the rain had ceased, and the track was dried. The race resumed on lap 28, and cruised beyond the halfway point to make the race official. At the 150-lap mark, the race had been very competitive up to that point, but was destined to come down to the final round of pit stops to decide the winner. Moreover, dark skies were looming, and inclement weather was moving back into the area. The race appeared to be turning into a crap-shoot. Some leaders headed for the pits for their final pit stops. At the same time, a handful of teams gambled by staying out, in hopes that they could stretch their fuel and be leading the race when the approaching rain arrived.

Despite desperate attempts to prevail over the approaching rain storm, all of the leaders ultimately were forced to cycle through their final round of pit stops. Nobody was able to stretch their fuel long enough to beat the rain. Buddy Rice, who had led the most laps thus far, re-emerged as the leader. The race was ended after 450 miles (180 laps), just 50 miles (20 laps) short of the scheduled distance. A severe thunderstorm, which eventually strengthened into an F2 tornado, formed in the area of the speedway, shutting the track down, and sending the spectators and competitors for cover. Buddy Rice was declared the winner, his first victory in championship-level competition.

Race schedule

Race schedule — April/May 2004
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
25
 
26
ROP
27
 
28
 
29
 
30
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
Mini-Marathon
9
Practice
10
Practice
11
Practice
12
Practice
13
Practice
14
Practice
15
Pole Day
16
Time Trials
17
 
18
 
19
Practice
20
Practice
21
Practice
22
Practice
23
Bump Day
24
 
25
 
26
 
27
Carb Day
28
 
29
Parade
30
Indy 500
31
Memorial Day
         
Color Notes
Green Practice
Dark Blue Time trials
Silver Race day
Red Rained out*
Blank No track activity

* Includes days where track activity
was significantly limited due to rain

ROP — denotes Rookie Orientation Program