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Dario dedicates win to Wheldon

Dario Franchitti was celebrating joining the elite club of three-time winners of the Indianapolis 500, and remembering the 2011 champion - his close friend Dan Wheldon.
As the 2012 Indianapolis 500 approached its climax, it was hard for anyone to shake thoughts of the 2011 champion Dan Wheldon from their minds. Three of his closest friends in the sport - Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan - were battling for the race win and the chance to have their likeness added to the side of Borg-Warner trophy alongside that of Wheldon.

"Kind of like old times, the three of us back and forward," said Franchitti after the race. "I thought, Dan is laughing at us right now going at it."

There had been a lot or memories of Wheldon throughout the day, including the sight of his 2011 Indy 500-winning car being driven around Indianapolis Motor Speedway before the race to the sound of a bagpipe lament.

"The thing that really got me was the love that the fans showed for Dan and the tribute that we were all able to pay him," referring to the moments on laps 26 and 98 when fans in the grandstand donned copies of Wheldon's trademark white-rimmed sunglasses to pay their own respects. "Susie came around the car afterwards, to see the reaction of how much he was loved. To me, that was a great thing to see. Yeah, made me happy."

After the race, Franchitti dedicated the win to Wheldon - and also to Michael Wanser, the six-year-old son of Target Ganassi team manager Barry Wanser who passed away from leukaemia just a couple of weeks after Wheldon himself died in the terrible multi-car accident in the IZOD IndyCar Series season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last October.

There had been much speculation that Franchitti might call time on his racing career after the loss of Wheldon, and the Scot admitted that it had been a dark time for him.

"I think racing is emotion. Life is, as well, but racing I think really exemplifies that, if that's the right word. And Vegas was the lowest of the low. Fontana '99 and Vegas last year were the lowest of the low," he said, recalling the loss of another good friend in the sport, Canada's Greg Moore 13 years ago when he himself was still relatively new to the world of IndyCar.

"I think the reason we all got back in the cars, the reasons all the mechanics got back in pit lane, the fans came back to the races, is days like today, the emotion of something like today," he continued. "That's certainly why I got back in the car. There's not a feeling like standing in Victory Lane there. There isn't."

That victory had hardly seemed likely after a disappointing qualifying session a week before - ironically taking place right on Dario's 39th birthday. Not that anyone felt much like eating cake to celebrate afterwards.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Dan Wheldon in pit lane at Vegas. [Picture Credit: IndyCar Media]
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard addresses the memorial service, surrounded by some of the trophies that Dan Wheldon had won in IndyCar. [Photo credit: Daniel Incandela for IndyCar Media]
Dan Wheldon can`t believe he`s just on his second Indy 500. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Sunday May 29, 2011. [Picture credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
15-21 MAY, 2010, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing`s Dario Franchitti, Indy 500 Winner with Chip Ganassi and milk.
15-21 MAY, 2010, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing`s Dario Franchitti, Indy 500 Winner showing two rings.
Winner Dario Franchitti. 96th Indianapolis 500 - Indianapolis Motor Speedway - 27 May 2012. (c) 2012, Michael L. Levitt. LAT Photo USA (Photo Credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA)
Marco Andretti in pit lane (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Will Power (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
AJ Foyt attends opening day for the Indianapolis 500 at IMS (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
AJ Foyt at IMS (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Conor Daly on track (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Marco Andretti and father/team boss Michael Andretti at IMS (Photo by: Dana Garrett for IndyCar Media)
IMS logo on a Firestone Tire (Photo by: Dana Garrett for IndyCar Media)
Marco Andretti enters Turn 1 during the Oval Open Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves sets up for Turn 1 during the Oval Open Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Pit lane comes to life during the Oval Open Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Marco Andretti in the cockpit (Photo by: Dana Garrett for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya crosses the line of bricks (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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No way - Unregistered

May 28, 2012 7:01 PM

@shaken no way. Sato firstly should have stayed back and made the move into turn 3 or even out of turn 4, he would never have kept the lead if he had passed at T1. Secondly he made the move way too late, all through the race the overtake into T1 was completed before they were committed to the corner, he left it too late and tried to pass as Dario was already turning into the corner. Dario gave him space, any more and he would have put himself on the marbles and visited the wall himself. Sato got spooked as Dario was going side by side with him and either turned tighter or lifted and got his left tyres on the dust, lost grip and then lost the back end. Silly mistake by Sato. Of course he tries to pass the blame, after all Bobby Rahal was on his radio all race telling him to not be so aggressive and take his time. But Sato being Sato couldn't wait and got too excited.

T - Unregistered

May 28, 2012 9:40 PM

Seemed to be written in the stars that Dans' best friends Dario / Dixie or TK where to win. Dario was very emotional after the race and the scenes between Susie Wheldon and the Franchittis especially as they went on the lap of honour (you could hear Dario asking Susie to join in ) was very touching.

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