INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Alex Lloyd and his Dale Coyne Racing teammates celebrated as if they had won the Indianapolis 500.
In reality, Lloyd dropped from third to fourth more than two hours after the race. A video review that showed three cars, including Lloyd, illegally passed Marco Andretti under caution in the race's final yards.
After starting 26th in Sunday's race, the 25-year-old Englishman beat all the drivers from Team Penske, KV Racing Technology and Dreyer & Reinbold, which each qualified at least three cars for Sunday's race.
"I'm thrilled for all the guys," Lloyd said. "We're a small team, but we showed we could fight with the big guys. This is a big day for all of us."
As race winner Dario Franchitti's second Indy 500 victory made owner Chip Ganassi the first to win the Daytona 500 and Indy 500 in the same year, Lloyd's finish was Coyne Racing's greatest accomplish since Justin Wilson won last year at Watkins Glen.
"We're happy with fourth," a still excited Coyne said in the garage. "We would have been happier with third."
Only 14 cars completed the race on a sweltering day that made for a very slick track.
Lloyd has had success at Indy before. He became the only driver to win both a road and oval race at Indianapolis while driving in the Indy Lights series. And Lloyd entered the day with confidence, despite struggling during qualifying.
"The biggest thing is getting one on the big stage," he said. "We just had a perfect day today. We had a great car, managed to drive it well, keep out of trouble and be patient and aggressive at the end when we needed to be. Great strategy."
Early in the race, Lloyd dropped to 27th for several laps before he jumped to seventh at Lap 37 and fifth at Lap 40. Stuck in the middle of the pack for most of the race, he began to inch up as the laps ticked off, returning to the top 10 on Lap 190.
Coyne said the team put itself in position to succeed late in the race.
"We plan for that, and we talk about that," he said. "We talk about being in the right position the last 50 laps. It's always a nice thing to say and a hard thing to do. And today, we did it."