Dario Franchitti drove 199 nearly flawless
laps, then survived the last one with a huge break from a
spectacular crash to climb back on top of the open-wheel world
Sunday with his second win at the Indianapolis 500.
Two years removed from his failed try in NASCAR, Franchitti heldon with a scant tenth of a gallon of fuel left in the tank - a
victory made possible by a crash that sent Mike Conway airborne on
the final lap.
"Still running," Franchitti told his crew over the radio as he
crossed the finish line, while wreckers were moving out to scoop up
debris from Conway's accident with Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Franchitti's second Brickyard victory in four years helped his
boss, Chip Ganassi, become the first owner to win Indy and NASCAR's
Daytona 500 in the same year. It also validated the Scottish
driver's return to the IndyCar circuit two years after celebrating
his 2007 Indy victory by making an unsuccessful move to NASCAR.
England's Dan Wheldon, the 2005 winner who closed furiously as
Franchitti slowed to save fuel before Conway's crash, was second,
and fellow Brit Alex Lloyd was third.
Pole-sitter Helio Castroneves saw his quest for his record-tying
fourth Indy victory come to an end with an uncharacteristic mistake
- stalling out leaving the pits on the 146th lap. It left him in
need of a yellow-flag miracle at the end that never came. He had topit again on the 193rd lap and finished ninth.
That was four spots behind Danica Patrick, who picked and poked
her way from 23rd to finish fifth despite a balky car that she
complained about in qualifying.
Patrick never found her comfort zone over 500 miles in 88-degree
weather - at one point saying she wished she could make up as much
time on the track as in the pits - but she was patient and
disciplined and now has three top-five finishes in six years.