An exhaust fire during a pit stop ended Alex Tagliani’s day prematurely, and the driver of the No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins Dallara/Honda/Firestone car for Sam Schmidt Motorsports (SSM) finished a disappointing 19th in Sunday’s Indy 225 IZOD IndyCar Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.

Tagliani was in 15th-place when he entered pit lane on lap 137 for what was going to be a routine pit stop for four tires and fuel. As Tagliani was approaching his pit box however, team manager Rob Edwards informed the team via radio that there appeared to be an exhaust fire and that they should not change tires or fuel the car.

As the car came to a stop, a fire was immediately apparent in the exhaust area in the right-rear of the car. Tagliani was quickly told to evacuate the car and the fire was put out within seconds thanks to the quick work of the Bowers & Wilkins crew along with INDYCAR and New Hampshire Motor Speedway safety officials. Tagliani was not injured.

When the fire was done, so was Tagliani’s day as the damage from the fire was too extensive to allow the car to continue.

“It’s a shame,” Tagliani said. “We struggled a bit this weekend, but the whole Bowers & Wilkins Sam Schmidt team did a good job to recover. We seemed to have a good car early on and made up some positions. Then we lost the balance and the car went really loose and we lost positions. At the end, we had a problem with the exhaust and that burned the bodywork on the engine of the car.  It’s a shame for the whole team.”

Ryan Hunter Reay won the Indy 225 to score his fifth career IndyCar victory, his first of the season and his first at New Hampshire. Light rain was a factor throughout the event and the race was cut short by 10 laps due to the weather.

Oriol Servia finished in the runner-up spot, while Scott Dixon, rookie James Hinchcliffe and Will Power rounded out the top-five. Danica Patrick, Takuma Sato, Ryan Briscoe, rookie Charlie Kimball and Vitor Meira comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were six caution periods for 66 laps, with 10 drivers failing to finish.

With round 13 of 17 complete, Tagliani is 15th in the IndyCar Series standings with 226 points, 217 markers back of championship leader Dario Franchitti.

The next event on the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule is the Aug. 28 Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. The race starts at 4 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by VERSUS.

Date:                  Aug. 14, 2011

Event:       Indy 225 (Round 13 of 17)

Series:                IZOD IndyCar Series

Location:           New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon (1.025-mile oval)

Start/Finish:       16th/19th (Mechanical, completed 137 of 215 laps)

Winner:              Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport