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'Beadgate' solved: Rossi, Karam admit to IMS hot tub prank

A pair of drivers finally confessed to filling driver Conor Daly's portable hot tub with thousands of expanding beads in the IMS bus lot.

INDIANAPOLIS — The biggest mystery surrounding this year's Indianapolis 500 has finally been solved. 

Driver Conor Daly found himself the victim of the greatest spectacle in driver pranks this May. 

On the first day of Indy 500 practice, May 17, Daly found the inflatable hot tub behind his motor home turned into a colorful ball pit. All the water sucked was sucked up by Orbeez Seeds, which grow over 1,000 times their size in four hours.  

While Marcus Ericsson was picking up his winner's check for a record $3.1 million, questions were still swirling about the culprits behind the hot tub prank.

Daly eventually got all the balls removed from the tub and the water replaced. But Monday night at the Indy 500 Victory Celebration, even though he suspected many fellow drivers, he still didn't know who to blame. 

"There's a lot of guilty faces in this place right here,” Daly told 13Sports director Dave Calabro. “I've heard rumors on the street. Tony Kanaan could be a part of it. It's been the most asked question this entire month and I have no answer for people. I'm sorry. Not like, ‘Hey! How's your car on race day?’ It's like ‘Hey! How's your inflatable hot tub?’"

During Daly's turn on stage, which featured a video of "detective" James Hinchcliffe trying to track down the prankster behind the stunt, drivers Alexander Rossi and Sage Karam confessed to the crime on Twitter.

At 9:15 p.m. Monday, Alexander Rossi posted the first hard evidence on Twitter, a screen caption of an Amazon order for 1.7 million water-absorbing beads, delivered May 16. That order costs about $450.

The beads, which are marketed for use as a sensory toy, including a stress ball and fidget toy, or as a vase filler, expand to 1,000 times their original size when placed in water.

Rossi had pleaded ignorance earlier at the Victory Celebration.   

"It's stupid to bring hot tubs to the bus lot,” Rossi told Calabro when asked about the prank, “not professional, not what you need to be focusing on."

Karam replied to Rossi's tweet with a confession of his own, backed by more evidence.

"Was pretty neat. Sorry, Conor I know I got it coming back," Karam replied, sharing a picture of a plastic tub filled with the beads.

"Snakes in the grass. It all makes sense now," Daly tweeted in reply.

Daly led seven laps and finished sixth in Sunday's race, one spot behind Rossi. Karam was running 17th when he crashed in Turn 2 on the final lap of the race and finished 23rd. He was taken to the hospital to get checked out for muscle soreness, but was later released.

Daly got the beads out of the hot tub on May 23, but said he has to go back on Tuesday to move the tub out of IMS. 

"I have no idea what I'm going to do with it,” said Daly. “But I assume when all the buses leave the bus lot, (Speedway owner) Roger (Penske) won't want just an inflatable tub of water there in the bus lot. So I don't want to desecrate his Speedway in any way, shape, or form, so I better figure it out pretty quickly." 

Daly promised to remove the hot tub in the next couple days. Then he can begin to plot his revenge for next May.

"Could we buy a flock of pigeons to release in their motorhome? I don't know. Maybe," Daly told 13Sports reporter Taylor Tannebaum in the days after the prank.

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