29 May 2006
Hornish wins Indy at the line.
Sam Hornish Jr won the Indianapolis 500, passing rookie Marco Andretti on the final straight for perhaps the most dramatic Indy 500 finish in history.
In a final five laps that saw, first, Michael Andretti, then 19-year old rookie Marco lead the race, Hornish Jr out dragged the youngster out of the final corner to win his first Indy 500 after six previously unsuccessful attempts.
With 50 laps to go, it looked like it had all gone wrong for the polesitter when he tried to leave his pit with the fuel hose attached, which meant he incurred a drive-through penalty that left him nearly a lap down.
However, a late caution period, coupled with the fact that Tony Kanaan and Dario Franchitti - who were running first and second on lap 190 - had to make a late stop for fuel, not only allowed Hornish to catch the pack, but also triggered the sensational final five-lap dash to the most famous chequered flag in all of motor racing.
Michael Andretti chose not to pit and moved into the lead, only for teenage sensation Marco to blast by on the high line going into turn one on lap 197. A fired-up Hornish Jr then grabbed second and began honing in on Marco only to have the rookie block his first passing attempt going into turn three on the penultimate lap.
With the Indianapolis grandstands going crazy, Hornish Jr built himself up for one final attempt, which came as the two came off turn four for the final time. Marco defended the low line, but had no answer for Hornish's momentum as he dove towards the pit wall to grab the lead with just metres of the race remaining.
Michael held on to third place, with long-time race leader Dan Wheldon fourth, Tony Kanaan fifth and Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, Danica Patrick, Scott Sharp and Vitor Meira completing both the top ten, as well as the list of unlapped finishers.
The second half of the race made up for the opening 100 laps, which was largely devoid of excitement as the field tried to cope not only with the hottest day of the month by a long way, but also the pace of third-place starter Dan Wheldon
After the start of the race was disrupted by a crash involving Hemelgarn team-mates PJ Chesson and Jeff Bucknum, Wheldon took nine laps to work his way past early race leader Helio Castroneves, and went on to build a lead of some 20 seconds before the next caution period on lap 66 for Tomas Scheckter's accident.
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