Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dario Franchitti Snags 3rd Indy 500 Win

Dario Franchitti celebrates Indy 500 win #3 with Simon Pagenaud
On a day when record setting temperatures threatened to be the story at Indianapolis, Dario Franchitti held off teammate Scott Dixon and a host of others to win the Indy 500 for the third time. The race finished under caution after a hard charging Takuma Sato tried to make a move under Dario in Turn One but appeared to pinch the car and spun into the wall after the white flag had waved. That left Dario three-fourths of a lap to cruise home ahead of Dixon and Tony Kanaan who took third. It was a great effort by all of these drivers and Sato's bold move nearly paid off and you have to give him credit for making the attempt. It was the last lap of the Indy 500 after all, and Sato had been quite strong in the middle segment of the race leading numerous laps and never being far from the top five all day.

This race featured an amazing amount of passing on the front stretch, even without double file restarts this year and the lead changed hands on seemingly every lap over the last 20 laps. From my vantage point in Turn 3, I saw lots of hard clean racing all race long and no one even so much as left a smudge on the wall. The IZOD Indycar Series officials and Dallara should be quite proud of their new car creation as it showed it was very raceworthy on an oval with race speeds often near 220 mph. There was also good racing throughout the filed but several drivers had trouble with loose race cars, most likely for the first time this month. Rookie Bryan Clauson, Ana Beatriz and Ed Carpenter all had harmless spins in Turn One, and Carpenter's had the worst effect as he had charged up into fourth place and seemed poised for a late race move. Mike Conway had another scary Indy crash, this time in Turn One, and Will Power became collateral damage after hitting Conway's airborne machine with nowhere else to go. Marco Andretti also found the Turn One wall late in the race after a strong showing when he drove it too low to keep it from swapping ends. Marco led early and looked ready to challenge for his first win up until that point.

It was too bad that both the Indy 500 and Friday's Indy Lights Freedom 100 finished under yellow as both races were set for fantastic finishes. The slingshot move has become de rigeur at Indianapolis and numerous drivers used it to great effect today. Let's hope that the momentum continues onto the short ovals but it sure looks like Dario and the Target Chip Ganassi Racing team has fixed whatever has ailed them so far this season with a one-two sweep at Indy. A cold bottle of milk will do that for a team though, and Dario knows that as well as anyone. A great day at Indianapolis, and a fitting race to honor last year's departed champion Dan Wheldon. The race has barely been over for two hours and already I am looking forward to next year when the Indycars race at the Brickyard for the 97th time. See you then if not sooner!

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