Bryan Herta began the day of Dan Wheldon tributes at Indianapolis. Dan’s closest friends concluded them in impressive fashion, as Dario Franchitti went on to win his third Indy 500.
Dario Franchitti went on to win his third Indianapolis 500 with Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan finishing right behind him. The three were Dan’s closest friends in the sport. Had Kanaan won the race, he and Dario would have their faces on the Borg-Warner Trophy next to Dan.
It is Dario’s third win in nine races at Indy. In each win, he had a different car number (27, 10, 50) and each race ended under caution.
Dario had the lead going into turn one on the final lap of the race, when Takuma Sato tried to make the pass down low. There didn’t appear to be any contact between the two, but Sato said after the race that Dario didn’t give him enough room. Dario, rightfully so, didn’t have to give him any room.
This is the Indianapolis 500.
Sato had a fantastic race, but he wasn’t the only one. Oriol Servia, Justin Wilson, and Charlie Kimball all had strong runs all day. Unfortunately for Sato, his resulted in a 17th place finish after his spin in turn one. Servia finished fourth, Wilson seventh, and Kimball eighth.
Pole sitter Ryan Briscoe was the best Penske finisher, scoring a top five finish. James Hinchcliffe finished behind Briscoe after starting the race behind him. Townsend Bell and Helio Castroneves rounded out the top ten of the 96th running of the Indy 500.
Rubens Barrichello was the highest finishing rookie, coming home 11th after starting in tenth.
It was a frustrating day for the young Americans. Graham Rahal, Josef Newgarden, Marco Andretti, and JR Hildebrand all had trouble throughout the day. None of them finished better than 13th.
It was looking like such a promising race for Andretti Autosport from the first day of practice to qualifying, as the team had three of the top four starting positions on the grid. Hinchcliffe had a good day, but Marco spun and finished 24th, Ryan Hunter-Reay had suspension issues and came home in 27th. Ana Beatriz was 23rd and Sebastian Saavedra ended up in 26th position.
Chevrolet also seemed to have the edge on track from day one. Honda was struggling, but seemed to find something by Fast Friday. Whatever they found, it worked. Franchitti and Dixon took the top two spots for Honda after starting 15th and 16th. Five of the top ten cars belonged to Honda (Sato would have made it six).
While the temperature didn’t break the record set in 1937, another one was broken. We had 35 lead changes on the day, breaking the old record of 29 set in 1960.
It was another 500 to forget for points leader Will Power.
Mike Conway spun on lap 81, and collected Power in the process. Conway went backwards, up and over the outside wall. It was not quite as bad as his 2009 incident when he was sent flying into the fence. Castroneves narrowly avoided disaster as a bouncing tire from Conway’s car just missed the cockpit of his car.
Power finished 28th in today’s race, the fifth Indianapolis 500 of his career. His average finish in this race is now 14th position. After ripping off wins in the last three races, Power had a big lead in the Championship point standings. Heading to the Belle Isle race in Detroit next week, he has a 36 point lead over Castroneves and Hinchcliffe.
Franchitti’s next win will put him in seventh place on the all-time list. The only drivers to win more are the three Unsers, two Andretti’s, and AJ Foyt.
Franchitti now joins Helio Castroneves as the only active drivers to have three Indy 500 wins.
The number of wins isn’t important to Dario today. Todway was about the biggest race in the world. This was about becoming a three-time Indy 500 champion. This was about doing it for Dan. White milk, white smile, and white sunglasses.