Dario Franchitti has joined the ranks of three-time winners of the Indianapolis 500, and in the process ensured that his face will be added to the Borg-Warner Trophy right alongside that of his close friend, 2011 champion Dan Wheldon.
It was a fast, hard and unpredictable race from the start, which initially saw a two-way battle play out between front row men Ryan Briscoe and James Hinchcliffe, until Marco Andretti surged into the lead and held the top spot for much of the first half of the afternoon.
Franchitti's early laps were more problematic, after he was punted by EJ Viso on pit lane in the first round of fuel stops. He was spun around by the impact and was forced to the back of the field after a front wing change. He fought his way back up through the positions, and by the end of that green flag stint he was back up to third place and firmly in contention from there until the end of the race.
In a complete reversal from qualifying, Ganassi proved to be the dominant team on Race Day and at one point had all four cars in the top six of the race. By contrast, Penske's Ryan Briscoe's form faded as the race wore on; his team mates also dropped out of contention for the win, with Will Power involved in a big crash with Mike Conway, and Helio Castroneves struggling with understeer after his front suspension got hit by a flying tyre from that same incident.
Over in the Andretti camp, Marco's day came to an end on lap 187 when he spun out and slammed the wall late in the race. Ryan Hunter-Reay suffered a suspension failure, Ana Beatriz spun out mid race but rejoined, and Sebastian Saavedra lost power exiting pit lane.
That left Franchitti with his hands full in the closing laps holding off his team mate Scott Dixon and one of his best friends in motor racing, Tony Kanaan - who produced huge cheers from the crowd when he first surged into the lead late in the race.
But it was Rahal Latterman Lanigan's Takuma Sato who proved the strongest threat. As the leaders took the white flag, Sato had to make his do-or-die move down the inside of Franchitti for the lead. Franchitti tried to pinch him off down low but then thought better of it and gave him some room - but it was too late. Sato wasn't able to hold it on the low line and lost the car, spinning up into the wall and missing taking out Franchitti by the narrowest of margins.
Before anyone could react, the yellow was out freezing the field - and Franchitti was confirmed as the winner of the 2012 Indy 500 ahead of Dixon and Kanaan.
A clearly emotional Franchitti climbed out of the car in victory lane, donned the trademark Wheldon white sunglasses, and took the congratulations of his car owner Chip Ganassi, his wife actress Ashley Judd - and most of all, a long and heartfelt embrace from Susie Wheldon.Full race report
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