ABC's decision to show the finish of Sunday's Indianapolis 500 in split screen with the drivers' significant others has drawn some criticism from fans and media types for not focusing on what was a dramatic race between Ryan Hunter-Reay and Helio Castroneves that was ultimately settled in favor of Hunter-Reay in the second closest finish in 500 history. Sunday's coverage of the race didn't bother me nearly as much as how they botched the closest finish.

After leading 160 of the first 189 laps, the fuel pump in Michael Andretti's car failed on Lap 189 of the 1992 Indianapolis 500. The late caution set up a 7-lap dash to the finish between Al Unser, Jr. and Scott Goodyear. Lap after lap Goodyear drafted Unser's car, looking for a mistake or any sort of opening to make his move. On the 200th lap, he had his opportunity. Unser's Valvoline Galmer pushed slightly into Turn 4, costing him precious momentum and allowing Goodyear to make a run to the yard of bricks in his Mackenzie Lola. The live ABC broadcast captured every second of this intense battle, as well as the emotion of the driver's respective spouses. As the drivers hurtled down the straight to the finish line, Goodyear went low, came alongside Unser and...

(Skip ahead to 4:40 to avoid the drama and see what happened)

ABC cut to the flag stand, where the finish for the live TV audience saw the flagman waving the checkered flags and another man holding a sign, but no cars!


As Sam Posey declared, "I believe that's the closest finish in Indy history!" a 21 year old me sat in my living room in disbelief. How could they screw this up? Did they have another view? Fuuuuck...

Years later, thanks to the Internet, I finally saw what is still the closest finish in Indianapolis 500 history (.043 second). And on Sunday I got to see the second closest finish live on TV. It may have been in split screen, but it could have been much, much worse.

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