SPEEDWAY — Just like last year, the running of the Indianapolis 500 came down to the last lap. And just like last year, a crash helped determine the winner of the 2012 Indianapolis 500, but it came in Turn 1 instead of Turn 4.
Last year, rookie J.R Hildebrand put his car in the wall coming out of Turn 4, allowing the late Dan Wheldon to fly by him and take the victory.
This year, Takuma Sato drove hard into Turn 1 and the back of his No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda got loose, pushing him into the wall and brushing against the 2012 Indianapolis 500 winner, Dario Franchitti.
“Takuma came into the last lap, got a good run on the inside,” Franchitti said. “I moved over a bit. I saw him coming. I said ’No, I’m too late.’ This is well before the corner. I moved back up. We turned the corner; I gave him a load of room. With the tight line he lost the rear.
”He’s very aggressive. I think he thought that was his chance. I mean, why not? I think he did everything right up until he lost the rear-end of the car.”
Franchitti’s Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon finished second with crowd favorite Tony Kanaan coming in third. Both Dixon and Kanaan agreed Sato became a little too aggressive, saying he probably could have waited to try and pass on the backstretch or on the way out of Turn 4 to the finish line.
Franchitti, Dixon and Kanaan coasted to the finish line after the yellow came out. Franchitti steered the No. 50 Target car into victory lane, put on white sunglasses similar to the ones Wheldon used to wear and pointed to the sky before drinking from the traditional bottle of milk reserved for the winner.
“This means the world. This is Indianapolis,” Franchitti said. “Thanks to all of the Indianapolis fans for their tribute to Dan today. What a race. What a race. I think D-dub (Wheldon) would be proud of that one.”