With 14 laps to go in the 1986 Indy 500….Rick Mears led Bobby Rahal and Kevin Cogan…..with Michael Andretti was still clinging on to the tail-end of the lead lap in 4th place…,and just ahead of Mears….when as the leaders approached traffic…..Rahal looked to pass Mears for the lead…..and down the backstretch, Rahal took the lead and headed towards turn 3…..as Cogan passed Mears on the outside of turn four and took second place. Down the front stretch, Rahal was caught up behind the lap car of Randy Lanier….while Cogan diced back and forth…..and slipped by Rahal going into turn one.
With then 13 laps to go, Cogan suddenly pulled out to a sizable 3-second lead…..although his car was visibly loose in the turns….and on several occasions nearly clipped the outside wall in turn 2…..then with 7 laps to go…..fourth place Michael Andretti ducked into the pit area for some fuel. On lap 194….then Arie Luyendyk, who was running 11th, spun exiting turn four….as his car whipped around and lightly tagged the inside wall near the entrance of the pits…..so, the yellow flag came out….and the field got bunched up behind the pace car.
Safety crews were able to clean up the incident quickly. Cogan led, with Rahal second, and Mears third, all together on the track. With 2½ laps to go, the lights on the pace car were turned off, signifying that the field was ready to go back to green. Cogan, Rahal, and Mears picked up the pace in the north chute, and came out of turn four for a restart and two laps to go. Rahal got the jump on Cogan out of turn four, and took the lead mid-way down the frontstretch. Rahal led at the line, and dove in front of Cogan in turn one.
Down the backstretch, Rahal pulled to over a 1-second lead….while Mears set himself up to pass Cogan in turn three….but Cogan held off the challenge, as Rahal took the white flag…..when Rahal’s speed on the 199th lap was a noteworthy 203 mph (327 km/h)….as he pulled out to a 1.4 second advantage….and won his first Indianapolis 500…..while Cogan and Mears finished second and third….in what was the closest three-car finish to date. Rahal’s final lap was an all-time record 209.152 mph (336.598 km/h), the fastest race lap to-date in Indy 500 competition.