INDIANAPOLIS // Dario Franchitti got the chance he needed to win his second Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. He had the dominant car and the perfect game plan and had a slice of luck in the form of a spectacular crash that brought out a yellow flag and allowed him to cross the line with just 1.6 gallons of fuel left in his Ganassi car.
"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 an accident that sent Mike Conway into the wall and to the hospital with a broken left leg. The victory made Chip Ganassi, Franchitti's boss, the first owner to win both the Indy 500 and Nascar's Daytona 500 in the same year. "All he wants to do is win," Franchitti said.
This victory validated the Scottish driver's return to the Indycar circuit two years after celebrating his 2007 Indy triumph and championship success in the same year by making an unsuccessful move with Ganassi to Nascar. It also made Franchitti and his crew look like the master tacticians they were on this day working the accelerator perfectly to stretch their final fill-up for the last 37 laps and edge out England's Dan Wheldon.
"You have to be prepared for all eventualities there," Ganassi said. "We had to play that game being the leader to keep those guys behind us, but also stay in front of them to make it to the finish." Franchitti was holding off Wheldon when Ryan Hunter-Reay's Penske ran out of fuel and slowed suddenly with Conway coming up alongside him. Conway went airborne, flipped upside down and flew into the wall, nearly landing on top of Hunter-Reay. That brought out the caution flag for the final lap.
A relieved Hunter-Reay said: "That car should have come down on my head. I don't know how it didn't." Franchitti's second victory at the Brickyard turned out to be the story instead of Helio Castroneves's fourth. The Brazilian's chances of a record-equalling fourth win were wrecked after he stalled while leaving the pits on the 146th lap, and finished ninth. Danica Patrick made no such mistakes. After being booed during qualifying for complaining about a poor handling car, she picked and poked her way from 23rd to sixth.
Marco Andretti was third, followed by England's Alex Lloyd and Scott Dixon. * AP