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Franchitti wins third Indy 500

Sunday, May 27, 2012

(Photo)
Dario Franchitti
INDIANAPOLIS -- Dario Franchitti's Indianapolis 500 career has quickly become a cautionary tale. Fortunately for him that's a very good thing. Franchitti captured his third Indianapolis 500 victory Sunday, holding on after a final lap crash by Takuma Sato, to win under caution. All three of Franchitti's Indy 500 wins have come under the yellow flag.

"I just want to dedicate this to two of Indianapolis' finest, Dan Wheldon and Michael Wanser. Thanks to all of the Indianapolis fans for their tribute to Dan today. What a race. What a race. I think D-dub (Wheldon) would be proud of that one," Franchitti said.

The crowd honored Wheldon, who died in an accident last October during the Las Vegas race, by donning white sunglasses, an accessory the late Wheldon enjoyed, during the first parade lap of Sunday's race, as well as laps 26 and 98, his car numbers for his two victories.

Wanser was the six-year-old son of Target Chip Ganassi Racing team manager Barry Wanser. He passed away one week following Wheldon's fatal crash in Las Vegas.

Franchitti's day started with an incident in the pits when he was spun, resulting in the racer needing the nose of his car replaced. The incident, however, didn't hold the Scotsman back from capturing his third title.

The Target Chip Ganassi Racing cars enjoyed another great day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In addition the race winner, Scott Dixon placed second, Charlie Kimball placed eighth and Graham Rahal finished 13th.

Watching the race, it was clear the place to be was second. Throughout the day first and second place traded places frequently. The second place car was able to suck up in the draft and rocket past the first place car. And the place on the track to pass seemed to be down the front stretch, but Sato pressed his luck on the final lap.

Sato was sitting in second place on the final lap and decided to make the pass going into turn one. However, his car went too low, lost grip and smacked the outside wall to allow Franchitti to cruise to his Indy 500 victory.

"I moved over, and I saw he was coming," Franchitti said. "I came back over and I moved up the track. He got loose underneath me. Kind of reminds me of Emerson (Fittipaldi) and Little Al (Unser) at the end there."

The biggest disappointment of the day belonged to Marco Andretti. Much has been said of the Andretti Curse and you can add Sunday's race to the growing tale. Andretti led the most laps during the race with 59, but slipped back late in the race when he picked up a shimmy and wasn't able to recover. Andretti was pressing hard on lap 187 as he ventured below the white line and lost traction.

Fans couldn't complain about the lack of action Sunday. The race experienced a record 35 lead changes. The race narrowly missed setting a record for the hottest Indianapolis 500 by topping out at 91 degrees, a mere degree from the old record.

Franchitti joined an elite group of Indy 500 drivers to have three Borg-Warner Trophies to their name. One of those racers was on the mind of Franchitti following the race.

"The last week I've been studying my buddy JR's book, Johnny Rutherford gave me this book with a wonderful inscription and he said he hoped to welcome me to the three-time club.

"To be in the company of guys like that means so much," he continued. "What a great race today. To be able to come from the back of the grid after being in the pit lane and being spun."

Franchitti joins Rutherford, Louis Meyer, Wilbur Shaw, Mauri Rose, Bobby Unser and Helio Castroneves as three-time winners. Franchitti can now set his sights on joining the ranks of A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears as the only four-time winners of the historic race.

At Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Indianapolis 500 Results

2.5 mile circuit, 200 laps

1. (50) Franchitti 200 laps 167.734

2. (9) Dixon, 200

3. (11) Kanaan, 200

4. (22) Servia, 200

5. (2) Briscoe, 200

6. (27) Hinchcliffe, 200

7. (18) Wilson, 200

8. (83) Kimball, 200

9. (99) Bell, 200

10. (3) Castroneves, 200

11. (8) Barrichello (R), 200

12. (98) Tagliani, 200

13. (38) Rahal, 200

14. (4) Hildebrand, 200

15. (19) Jakes (R), 200

16. (77) Pagenaud (R), 200

17. (15) Sato, 199

18. (5) Viso, 199

19. (30) Jourdain, 199

20. (7) Bourdais, 199

21. (20) Carpenter, 199

22. (6) Legge (R), 199

23. (25) Beatriz, 190

24. (26) Andretti, 187

25. (67) Newgarden (R), 161

26. (17) Saavedra, 143

27. (28) Hunter-Reay, 123

28. (12) Power, 79

29. (14) Conway, 78

30. (39) Clauson (R), 46

31. (41) Cunningham (R), 42

32. (78) de Silvestro 10

33. (64) Alesi (R), 9

Most Laps Led -- Andretti 59, Dixon 53, Sato 31, Franchitti 23, Briscoe 15, Kanaan 7, Hinchcliffe 5, Kimball 3, Barrichello 2, Taglinai 2

Fastest Lap: 220.172 (Andretti)

Cautions: 8 (39 laps)