Franchitti Wins 2nd Indy 500 - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Franchitti Wins 2nd Indy 500

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - 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 a failed try in NASCAR, Franchitti held

on with a scant 1.6 gallons of fuel left in the tank - a victory

made possible by a crash that sent Mike Conway airborne and into

the wall, and left the final lap to be run under a caution flag.

"Still running," the winner 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.

The victory made Franchitti's boss, Chip Ganassi, 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 with Ganassi to NASCAR.

England's Dan Wheldon, the 2005 winner who closed furiously as

Franchitti slowed to save fuel in the final laps, was second, and

fellow Brit Alex Lloyd was third, followed by Scott Dixon in

fourth.

Conway, who waved to the crowd as he was being taken off the

track, was airlifted to the hospital with a broken leg.

Pole-sitter Helio Castroneves saw his quest for a record-tying

fourth Indy victory come to an end with an uncharacteristic mistake

- stalling out while leaving the pits on the 146th lap. It left him

in need of a yellow-flag miracle at the end that never came, and he

finished ninth after one last pit stop on the 193rd lap.

Danica Patrick picked and poked her way from 23rd to finish

fifth despite a balky car that she had complained about in

qualifying.

Patrick never found her comfort zone in the 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.

Tony Kanaan finished 11th after moving from 33rd and last to as

high as second. His chances of becoming the first driver in the 94

years of the race to go from worst to first ended when he had to go

to the pits for a splash of fuel with four laps to go.

Franchitti's crew, meanwhile, started pressing their driver to

conserve fuel with about 15 laps left. He did as he was told, and

after leading three-quarters of the race at speeds of up to 224.287

mph, then slowed steadily at the end - to 210 mph, then 209 and

206.

Wheldon started bearing down, putting himself in position to

make the last lap of the Indy 500 the first lap he had led all year

on the circuit.

That's when the cars behind them went flying.

With the yellow flag out, Franchitti's wife, actress Ashley

Judd, put her hand over her head, hoping her man had enough fuel to

make it. He did, and was on his way to a milk mustache in Victory

Lane. Franchitti's other Indy victory came in a race shortened to

166 laps because of rain.

Ganassi won his fourth Indy and has one of those few pieces of

history that aren't owned by racing's most successful owner, Roger

Penske, who had an unusually bewildering day in his quest for a

16th Indy victory day.

More than an hour before Castroneves stalled in pit road,

teammate Will Power's crew left part of the fuel rig in his tank -

a costly mistake that forced Power to take a penalty run through

pit road and dropped him out of the top five.

And moments after Castroneves' error, his other teammate, Ryan

Briscoe, careened into the wall and out of the race while Penske,

The Captain, looked on - hand on hip, seemingly amazed at how his

smooth-running machine fell so far, so fast.

This was part of an overall sloppy day at "The Greatest

Spectacle In Racing," which featured nine caution periods,

including one when Davey Hamilton, the oldest driver in the race,

crashed before the drivers made it out of Turn 2 on the first lap.

Dixon, Franchitti's teammate, lost his left front tire coming

out of pit road. Raphael Matos, who got to second early in the

race, dropped back when his right rear tire came off - then went

out when he hit the wall on lap 72.

Power crept his way back into the top five briefly, but another

pit-road mix-up cost him time. The 29-year-old Australian, first

before the race in the IndyCar standings, finished eighth.

Marco Andretti started 16th and briefly moved to second thanks

in part to his early use of the speed-boosting "push to pass"

button that was making its Indy debut this year. But without as

good a car as the leaders, he fell back to sixth.

Nobody ran a cleaner, more tactically superior race than

Franchitti. He had the third-fastest car in qualifying, which also

helped, as did a little bit of racin' luck at the end - the kind

that has come to him much more easily in the open-wheel world than

in his half-year in NASCAR in 2008.

He returned to IRL last year and won the title in the season's

last race with a similarly clever fuel-conservation tactic in a

race that went 300 miles without a caution.

That was sweet. Winning the big one is sweeter.

He's back home again in Indiana - and back in Victory Lane in

Indy.

 

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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