Wheldon Takes Advantage of Rookie Mistake - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Wheldon Takes Advantage of Rookie Mistake

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - JR Hildebrand was one turn away from winning

the Indianapolis 500 on his very first try. Then, within sight of

the checkered flag, the 23-year-old Californian made the ultimate

rookie mistake.

Hildebrand slammed into the wall on the final turn, and Dan

Wheldon drove on past to claim an improbable Indy 500 win Sunday in

his first race of the year.

Wheldon, the 2005 winner but without a full-time ride this

season, appeared headed for his third straight runner-up finish as

Hildebrand took the white flag with a comfortable lead and needing

only to make it through the last of 200 laps around the 2½-mile

speedway.

The first three turns went smoothly. Then, Hildebrand came up on

another rookie, Charlie Kimball, in the fourth turn. Instead of

backing off, Hildebrand slid to the outside, got in the rough patch

of the track and lost control. He slammed the wall, allowing

Wheldon to drive into Victory Lane.

"I caught him in the wrong piece of track," Hildebrand said.

"I got up in the marbles and that was it."

Hildebrand's crumpled machine slid across the finish line in

second place while hugging the wall. While Wheldon celebrated,

IndyCar officials reviewed the video to see if Wheldon passed the

wrecked machine before the caution lights went on. It appeared he

did, giving the Brit another Indy 500 title with a part-time team.

"I just felt a lot of relief. It's an incredible feeling,"

Wheldon said. "I never gave up."

 

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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