BY DEAN HOCKNEY
INDIANAPOLIS – On a day when all eyes seemed to be on the temperature gauge, in the end, they returned to the track to watch the new Dallara chassis cross the Indianapolis 500 yard of bricks for the first time as Dario Franchitti captured his third the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
“What a race. What a race,” exclaimed Franchitti shortly after stepping out of his No. 50 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car. “This means the world. This is Indianapolis. To be on this trophy on either side of Dan (Wheldon), that means more than anything.”
Franchitti won the 96th running of the Indy 500 in record fashion, as the race saw 34 lead changes - breaking the previous race high of 31. But it was the final attempt at a pass that was the most thrilling. Shortly after taking the white flag, Takuma Sato attempted to pass Franchitti on the low side of Turn 1, but lost traction and spun, narrowly missing Franchitti before smashing into the short shoot wall nose first. Franchitti would win under caution, while teammate Scott Dixon finished second and good friend Tony Kannan third.
“I moved over and I saw he was coming,” said the three-time milk drinker. “I came back over and I moved up the track. He got loose underneath me. It kind of reminds me of Emerson (Fittipaldi) and Little Al (Unser) at the end there.
Franchitti said three-time Indy 500 champion Johnny Rutherford had presented him a copy of his book, which he read this week.
“I’ve been studying my buddy JR’s book, and he said he hoped to welcome me into the three-time club,” said Franchitt, who also won in 2007 and 2010. “To be in the company of guys like that means so much. What a great race today.”
“After being cleared by the track medical staff, Sato said, “I was going for the win. I kept pushing and overtaking. On the very last lap, I had a good tow from Dario. I thought I had the job done, but he kept pushing and didn’t give me enough room so that I was below the white line. It was a very exciting race and an incredible weekend.”
For the complete story, see the May 29 issue of the Sports Journal of Central Indiana. And don't miss Photo Editor William Gibson's sensational picture of the Sato spin next to Franchitti.