The 500 Miles of Indianapolis have been completed and, for the third time in the last five editions, Target Chip Ganassi Racing emerged victorious in the World’s Greatest Race. Dario Franchitti, carrying the No. 50 in honor of Target’s 50th Anniversary was in the lead coming to the last lap of the race when Takuma Sato of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing dove underneath vying for the race lead. Sato proceeded to the white line on the inside of turn one when the No. 15 MiJack machine touched wheels with Franchitti’s Target red car spinning Sato to the outside SAFER Barrier giving the win to the Scot. This win places Franchitti in an elite group of drivers that have won the Indianapolis 500 three times joining Helio Castroneves as the only active driver to accomplish the feat. Franchitti made his way to victory circle for the ceremonial bottle of milk and saluted his fallen former teammate and friend, Dan Wheldon. Digging further into the final results the top-3 finishers are fitting because they were all former teammates of the late Dan Wheldon, and, in a race so filled with emotion and tribute, finished as it should. Any of the top-3 would have been a fitting champion in this race.
ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT’S STRONG MONTH HITS THE WALL
Andretti Autosport was considered, by many in the Paddock, to be the team to beat on Race Day. Sure, Team Penske won the Pole Position for the race, but Andretti Autosport cars filled the next three positions on the starting grid. Through the first half of the race, it seemed as everything was going to plan. Marco Andretti sailed out to the lead and led a race high 59 laps, but spent the second half of the race mired in traffic with a downforce level that made the car difficult to drive in that situation. His race finally ended on lap 187 when he spun and hit the SAFER barrier ending his run. Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay ran a conservative race just logging miles and setting up for the final fifty laps to go for the race win when a CV joint broke in the right rear of the car ending his day. Ana Beatriz and Sebastien Saavedra also suffered difficult runs. James Hinchcliffe was the lone bright spot for the team finishing 6th in the GoDaddy.com Chevrolet.
TEAM PENSKE STILL SITS AT 15…
For the third straight rendition of the Indianapolis 500 Team Penske has suffered mediocre results, overall. Team Penske and driver Ryan Briscoe started from the Pole in the 2012 edition with Power and Castroneves starting 5th and 6th respectively in their cars. Briscoe led fifteen laps early, but faded through the middle portions of the race before rebounding to a fifth place finish to lead Team Penske on the day. Castroneves suffered through subpar pitstops and difficult handling balance in traffic salvaging a 10th place result in the final box score. Will Power had, by far, the toughest day for Team Penske. On lap 79, Power was approaching the car of Mike Conway who had just made a pit stop, a botched pit stop where he slid into the box damaging is front wing. Conway’s car got loose and spun toward the SAFER Barrier collecting Power ending his day saddling him with a 28th Place finish and a huge dent in the points lead.
LOTUS’ DAY ENDS VERY VERY EARLY
The two cars powered by Lotus were in for a tough day, for sure, but they were hoping that they would last more than ten laps into the Greatest Spectacle In Racing, however, Director Beaux Barfield determined very early that they were unable to keep sufficient pace to warrant remaining on the track. Lotus’ problems were well documented all month and the race was a culmination of all of these issues. HVM Racing, the only full-time Lotus team, seems to be committed to moving forward with the European manufacturer, however, if the engine doesn’t make significant progress soon, you could see Keith Wiggins jump to Honda sometime later this year if pressure for better results comes from their sponsor Entergy.
40 YEAR OLD GETS ROOKIE OF THE YEAR…SAY WHAT?
KV Racing Technology driver Rubens Barrichello finished his first Indianapolis 500 in 11th position as the highest finishing rookie, therefore, winning the Chase Rookie of the Year award for 2012. Barrichello had a consistent day of learning and will return to the Speedway next may with a legitimate chance to win the race in his second start.
DAN WHELDON HONORED, REMEMBERED
The IZOD IndyCar Series packs up and leaves the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for another year and returns to business as usual. The car count will be back down to the normal field of 26 as the series loads into the revival of the Grand Prix of Detroit with the race sponsored by Chevrolet. The race for the IZOD IndyCar Series championship resumes Sunday from the Motor City with Will Power holding the points lead by a margin of 36 over teammate Helio Castroneves.
CONGRATULATIONS DARIO FRANCHITTI AND TARGET CHIP GANASSI RACING
WINNERS OF THE INDIANAPOLIS 500
R.I.P. DAN WHELDON