Bathgate’s Dario Franchitti became the first Scot to claim to Indianapolis 500 wins after totally dominating the America’s Blue riband event at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.
The 36-year-old, whose win in 2007 made him the first Scot to claim victory in the all-America race since his hero Jim Clark in 1965, found himself struggling for words immediately afterwards.
“I honestly don’t know what to say,” he admitted. “This is just unbelievable. Unbelievable. Winning one Indy500 was a dream, but to win a second is beyond belief. This is just fantastic.
“I knew coming into the race that we had a fantastic race car, and the guys in pitlane did a fantastic job with every pitstop we had. I’ve won the race, but by God this win is for everyone who is part of the Target Ganassi team.”
Franchitti, who started the race from third on the grid, moved up to first before the opening lap was complete and led 93 of the opening 100 laps, such was his dominance. Apart from a brief battle with Penske’s Will Power early on, he only lost the lead briefly because others were trying alternative strategies.
Ultimately the race, like Franchitti’s 2007 victory which ended in a torrential downpour, ended under a yellow caution flag following a horrific crash involving England’s Mike Conway two laps before the scheduled 200 laps.
Conway’s Dreyer & Reinbold car rolled over the back of the Andretti car of Ryan Hunter-Reay (correct, Reay) and was catapulted into the fencing. The impact ripped the rear end off his car before it crashed back down on to the track. Conway was immediately flown to hospital with an injury to his right leg.
The cautionary yellow flag was ultimately a blessing for Franchitti, who started the final 2.5-miles marginal on fuel and who for much of the race had led the field by up to 10-seconds.
“Yeh, it was getting pretty damned tight there towards the end,” the Scot, whose second Indy500 win now sits alongside his double IndyCar championship tally, continued. “But the guys in the crew called it right. I always knew I’d get to the finish.”
Franchitti finished 0.1536s ahead of former winner Dan Wheldon. The Englishman, who was a team-mate of Franchitti’s at Andretti Green, eased his Panther into second after Brazilian Tony Kanaan was forced to pit his Andretti car for fuel from second with just four laps remaining.
“This is just a dream,” Franchitti beamed as he gulped the winner’s traditional quart of milk. “Never in my wildest dreams did I really think I’d ever win one Indy500. Now I have two. It’s brilliant, absolutely brilliant.”