Bertrand Baguette felt it would have only taken a brief full course yellow for him to pull off a shock victory in the Indianapolis 500 for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
The Belgian was making a one-off appearance with Bobby Rahal's squad, and after running near the lead group all day, tried to extend his fuel mileage in the closing stages and get to the finish without a sixth pit stop. As others pitted, Baguette moved into first place on lap 189 of 200, but with the yellow he needed to conserve enough fuel not forthcoming, he had to relinquish the lead and pit with three laps to go.
"I was hoping for better, but that's racing. We tried. We failed," he rued after finishing seventh following his stop.
Despite missing out on a potential victory, Baguette was delighted with his performance.
"It's incredible – leading the 100th anniversary of the race. It is something unbelievable," he said. "We had a good chance to win the race. We were hoping for a yellow, but unfortunately we were two laps too short. We had to pit for some more fuel in the car and go again. I enjoyed my time out there, and it was a great day for me."
The 2009 Formula Renault 3.5 Series champion made a good impression during his IndyCar rookie campaign with Conquest Racing last year but was unable to get a full-season drive for 2010. He hopes that his Indy deal with former series regular Rahal Letterman Lanigan might be extended to encompass further appearances.
"I would love to be back with this team," said Baguette. "They did a fantastic job. They deserve to be full time in the championship. We'll see what we can do."