The Indianapolis 500 featured many feel good stories but in the end it came down to fuel mileage and a perfectly timed caution. Dario Franchitti drove the dominant car all day long, leading more than 150 of the 200 laps and in the end he had to drive that car at a virtual crawl the last 10 laps to save fuel. As Franchitti drove down the front stretch to take the white flag, Mike Conway misjudged his clearance of Ryan Hunter-Reay and was sent flying into the catch fence bringing out the yellow flag and sealing the victory for Dario Franchitti.
Ganassi wins Daytona & Indianapolis in same year.
Franchitti’s win made car owner Chip Ganassi the only owner to ever to win NASCAR’s Daytona 500 and the Indy Racing League’s Indianapolis 500 in the same season. Ganassi’s cars were the fastest cars on the two and a half mile Indianapolis oval all May but Franchitti’s teammate, Scott Dixon was the favorite to win the Indianapolis 500.
Franchitti dominates and then has to conserve fuel.
The race began with Franchitti forcing his way to the lead early and only relinquishing it due to pit strategies employed by race teams that were off sequence. Franchitti’s team advised him with only 15 laps to go that he had better begin slowing down and saving fuel. Franchitti ended the race with only one tenth of a gallon of ethanol in the tank as coasted to the checkered flag.
Indianapolis 500 makes history with four women taking the green flag.
Danica Patrick was not the first woman to ever race at Indianapolis and it is apparent she will not be the last. The other three women to compete in the Indianapolis 500 were 13th place finisher, Simona De Silvestro, 21st place finisher Ana Beatriz and 26th place finisher and Indianapolis 500 veteran Sarah Fisher.
Danica Patrick did perform the best of the four women, finishing fifth and lingering in the bottom half of the field much of the race. Patrick was running eighth on the last lap when Mike Conway launched himself over Ryan Hunter-Reay into the catch fence (see you tube video of crash here). Patrick’s car traveled along side Conway as his car disintegrated as it tumbled to a stop upside down. Patrick was awarded fifth place after it was determined that her Andretti Autosport teammate, Marco Andretti did not maintain the minimum speed on the last lap.
Tony Kannan raced from last to first but had to pit late.
Andretti Autosport driver Tony Kannan started tail end of the field and clipped off positions at a torrid pace early in the race eventually making it all the way to the front of the field. Kannan was finally a victim of bad luck late in the race and had to finally pit for fuel with less than 10 laps to go. Still Kannan’s performance was nothing short of spectacular with a car that was not as strong as the Team Penske and Ganassi Racing cars.
Helio Castroneves has trouble in the pits that cost him his 4th Indianapolis 500 win.
Franchitti quickly got past pole sitter Helio Castroneves and appeared to have a stronger car than the defending Indianapolis 500 champ Castroneves. Castroneves stayed in the top five most of the race until stalling his car on a green flag pit stop. Castroneves engineer, Tim Cindric then decided to go with a fuel mileage strategy and had Castroneves top off the fuel with 35 laps remaining. This still left Castroneves 10 laps short on fuel and he eventually had to pit with nine laps remaining, ending his chances for a fourth Indianapolis 500.
The top ten finishers in the Indianapolis 500.
1) Dario Franchitti.
2) Dan Wheldon.
3) Alex Lloyd.
4) Scott Dixon.
5) Danica Patrick.
6) Marco Andretti.
7) Justin Wilson.
8) Will Power.
9) Helio Castroneves.
10) Alex Tagliani.
To see the remaining finishers in the Indianapolis 500 see ESPN Indy Car page.
ABC TV live coverage Indianapolis 500.
www.espn.go.com indy car page.