By Joe Spears | @joe_spears7
Sports Capital Journalism Program
INDIANAPOLIS — Five years ago, Dean Stoneman was spending 18 hours a day going through chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. On Friday, he won for the second time in 13 days, edging Ed Jones by .0024, the closest margin in the history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in the Mazda Freedom 100.
“Emotionally this affects me a lot,” Stoneman said after the victory. “Before, winning was enjoyable, but now my body takes it more emotionally and I enjoy it a lot more. To be told you have stage IV plus plus plus cancer, a 30 percent survival chance, six months of chemotherapy, four operations and to still be in a race car today, there’s nothing more I can say.”
In 2011, Stoneman was diagnosed with advanced testicular cancer that spread to his lungs and brain. A year later, he became a powerboat champion, and in 2013 Stoneman was back racing in a car.
Earlier this year, Stoneman, 25, from Southampton, England, signed with Andretti Autosport in the Indy Lights Series. The victory on Friday was his second in the eight events this season. On May 14, Stoneman finished first in the Mazda Indy Lights Grand Prix of Indianapolis Race 2.
“It’s been great to come here two weeks in a row and win on the GP track as well as to win on the Indy oval the weekend of the 100th running of the 500,” Stoneman said on Friday. “It was just amazing to do it in front of such a big crowd. It hasn’t really sunk it yet, but it has been amazing.”
In the second oval race in his career, Stoneman started fifth in the Freedom 100.
When the rain on Thursday canceled any hope of qualifying, the drivers were positioned in order of the season’s points race. This meant that Jones, from the United Arab Emirates, started out in front.
The lead changed four times in the 40 laps, with Stoneman ahead for 30 laps and Jones in first for 10. A caution brought out by Santiago Urrutia, of Uruguay, on Lap 30 slowed the race with 10 laps to go. Urrutia lost control of his car coming out of turn two but was able to continue on in the race.
Juan Piedrahita, of Colombia, battled Stoneman for the lead and with five laps to go and came close to overtaking Stoneman. A yellow flag brought out from a wreck by Heamin Choi, of South Korea, on Lap 35 brought out the third caution of the day, and Stoneman was able to narrowly edge out Piedrahita for first on the restart.
The green and white flag waved simultaneously on the restart, and Jones regained the lead with a lap to go. Jones and Stoneman battled through the final three turns and were neck and neck going down the front stretch. As the checkered flag waved, Jones and Stoneman crossed the finish line side by side. A moment later, Stoneman pumped a fist in a celebration of another victory in a remarkable comeback.
“The team gave me a car to win the race,” Jones said. “We were battling up front the entire race and to lose it by such a small margin, I can’t think of things much worse.”
Stoneman won an oval race for the first time, just two days before the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.
“It was an amazing race,” Stoneman said. “I knew I was consistent in the race and that I could get my car into position to get into the lead. I was more than confident that my car was going to be there. This is a dream come true.”