Franchitti survives last lap challenge, wins third Indy 500

Sunday, May 27, 2012 at 6:01pm
Staff reports

Dario Franchitti became the 10th driver to win the Indianapolis 500 at least three times when he held on to the top spot despite a last lap accident and took the checkered flag while under caution.

Franchitti, of Franklin, led at the start of the final lap but Takuma Sato tried to pass in the first turn. The two made contact, and Sato spun out, which led to the caution. Franchitti maintained control and cruised to the finish with teammate Scott Dixon (second) and close friend Tony Kanaan (third) almost side-by-side.

"That last lap, running side-by-side with Takuma, I went down to give him room but we hit and I just managed to keep it out of trouble," Franchitti said.

Sato finished 17th.

“I was going for the win,” Sato said. “ … 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 well below the white line."

Franchitti, who also won in 2007 and 2010 (both also finished under caution), dedicated the victory to 2011 champion Dan Wheldon, who died in a racing accident later last year.

“Now my face on the Borg-Warner Trophy will be on either side of Dan's,” Franchitti said.

Hendersonville’s Josef Newgarden, the first Tennessee native to start in the Indianapolis 500, stalled in the pits during the first caution and then had his day cut short by mechanical troubles on Lap 162.

He finished 25th overall and was fifth among the eight first-time racers.