At one point in the race in 29tht place, Alexander Rossi went on to become the first rookie to win the Indy 500 after Helio Castroneves, who did the same upset in 2001.Just after he started the last lap, Rossi’s car began to splutter. Very soon he was out of gas and coasting from Turn 4 all the way to the finish line. When his engine died he was at a coasting speed of almost 180mph. Luckily he had built up such a huge lead that he managed to stay ahead all the way to the finish line, with a lead of just 4.4975 ahead of second place.

Bryan Herta's strategy.

It was the strategy of co-owner and race strategist Bryan Herta that won Rossi the race.

It was his brilliant idea that while all the other racers stopped for refueling, Rossi continued without refueling in the 197th lap. He asked Rossi to conserve fuel but go on. From there Rossi had 18.5 gallons of Sunoco E85R fuel for the rest of the 90 miles.

Driving on fumes.

It was a tough ask from the rookie driver, but Rossi rose to the occasion and deftly managed the car with minimum fuel for the rest of the distance and by the last lap he was only on gas fumes.

During the last 10 laps of the race, the strategy helped him get past favorites like Tony Kanaan, Carlos Munoz, and Josef Newgarden as they pit-stopped for fuel. Defending champion, Juan Pablo Monotoyawas out of the race in the 64th lap when the tail end of his car broke loose in Turn 2 and he slammed into the outside wall.

Against all odds.

According to Vegas sports books, Rossi’s odds for winning the race were 1000:1.

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But the gamble of skipping the fuel pit stop took him to victory, even if it was only on fumes, with Carlos Munoz coming in a close 2nd. Celebrations were in order, and Rossi had his swig of milk, an Indy 500 tradition that has persisted for the last 60 years.

Buttermilk to cool off

The advent of the tradition was in 1936, when Louis Meyer, who always drank buttermilk to cool off, had a gulp of his favorite drink after winning the Indy 500 that year.

The general manager of a dairy company saw the picture and thought it made very good marketing and the tradition was born. Though the tradition took a hiatus between 1947 and 1955, it was reinstated in 1956 and has persisted since then.

The victory has been special for Rossi in his second year of professional racing, and to top that he has won the Indy 500 in its 100th year, a landmark of sorts.

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