[Nameplate] Overcast ~ 52°F  
High: 62°F ~ Low: 46°F
Monday, May 2, 2016

Wild finish to Indianapolis 500

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dan Wheldon
INDIANAPOLIS -- It was a storybook ending. A rookie driving the National Guard car on Memorial Day winning the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500. However, the dream turned into a nightmare as National Guard driver J.R. Hildebrand slammed the wall in turn four while leading and was passed by Dan Wheldon as his car slid along the wall of the front stretch at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Most didn't realize who had won the race as all eyes were on Hildebrand's ride as its crippled exterior rode the outside wall. Wheldon's margin of win was 2.10 seconds as he raced by Hildebrand's machine. It was Wheldon's only lap led on the day.

"I was just trying to go as hard as I could," Wheldon said. "I knew it was the last lap and I knew some of those guys were struggling with fuel."

An emotional Wheldon was all smiles in victory lane as tears rolled down his checks, but became most emotional as he thanked his family and spoke about his mother. Wheldon's mother was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer and was unable to make the trip to Indianapolis. The driver teamed up with the Alzheimer's Association for this year's race to bring more awareness to the disease.

"I want to say hi to my family back home, my mother" Wheldon said. "The Alzheimer's Association, the chance to represent them."

Hildebrand said his move at the end was something he thought about and had done earlier in the race.

"I quickly decided, knowing that the cars in second and third were coming pretty strong, that rather than downshifting a bunch, you know, sort of risking slowing the car way down coming onto the front straight to stay behind him, I thought I'll breathe it and go to the high side because it was a move I used earlier in the race to get around some slower cars in a fairly similar situation," Hildebrand said.

He also said that after the crash, his sights were still set on the finish line.

"I was flat on the gas, man," Hildebrand said. "What are you gonna do at that point?"

Danica Patrick led 10 laps late as an early pit allowed her to stay on the track as others pitted. Teammate Marco Andretti also hit pit road and the duo worked their way through the field to finish 10th and ninth, respectively.

"That's what you have to do here at Indy; you have to take that chance because it's win or bust here, for the most part," Patrick said. "While it's great to have top-five finishes every weekend, Indy is about winning."

Hildebrand, a rookie with Panther Racing, gained the lead late after Bertrand Baguette pitted on lap 198 and looked to be cruising to the win. He would have been the ninth rookie to win the historic race.

As for what his plans were following his victory, Wheldon still had his family on his mind.

"I'm taking my kids to Disney, taking my kids to Disney," he said "It's just an incredible day."

The outcome was in question for a while after the race as it was thought Wheldon may have passed Hildebrand on the yellow, thus negating the move. However, Wheldon was deemed the winner after the review, with Hildebrand remaining in second place.

At The Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Indianapolis 500 Results

2.5 mile circuit, 200 laps

1. (98) Dan Wheldon, 200 laps, 170.265 average speed

2. (4) J.R. Hildebrand (R), 200

3. (38) Graham Rahal, 200

4. (82) Tony Kanaan, 200

5. (9) Scott Dixon, 200

6. (2) Oriol Servia, 200

7. (30) Bertrand Baguette, 200

8. (07) Tomas Scheckter, 200

9. (26) Marco Andretti, 200

10. (7) Danica Patrick, 200

11. (67) Ed Carpenter, 200

12. (10) Dario Franchitti, 200

13. (83) Charlie Kimball (R), 199

14. (12) Will Power, 199

15. (14) Vitor Meira, 199

16. (22) Justin Wilson, 199

17. (3) Helio Castroneves, 199

18. (44) Buddy Rice, 198

19. (19) Alex Lloyd, 198

20. (36) Pippa Mann (R), 198

21. (24) Ana Beatriz, 197

22. (43) John Andretti, 197

23. (41) Ryan Hunter-Reay, 197

24. (11) Davey Hamilton, 193

25. (23) Paul Tracy, 175

26. (99) Townsend Bell, 157

27. (6) Ryan Briscoe, 157

28. (77) Alex Tagliani, 147

29. (06) James Hinchcliffe (R), 99

30. (88) Jay Howard (R), 60

31. (78) Simona de Silvestro, 44

32. (59) E.J. Viso, 27

33. (5) Takuma Sato, 20

Lap Leaders (Laps led): Dixon 73 laps (1-7, 27-33, 35-60, 73-98, 172-178); Franchitti 51 laps (61, 65-72, 99, 104-112, 129-137, 141-163); Tagliani 20 laps (8-26, 34); Servia 18 laps (113-128, 164-165) Baguette 11 laps (139-140, 189-197); Patrick 10 laps (179-188); Hildebrand 7 laps (100-103, 138, 198-199); Rahal 6 laps (166-171); Carpenter 3 laps (62-64); Wheldon 1 lap (200)

Cautions: 7 for 40 laps; Time of race: 2:56:11

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: