Dario Franchitti claimed his second Indianapolis 500 victory with a commanding drive in the 2010 edition of the IndyCar Series' premier race.
Dan Wheldon finished in second place, as a late fuel stop meant Tony Kanaan had to relinquish the runner-up spot with just four laps to go after an epic drive from the back of the grid, while Alex Lloyd took a remarkable third place for Dale Coyne Racing to complete an all-British top three, although he was subsequently relegated to fourth behind Marco Andretti, whose complaint that he was passed under yellow on the final lap was upheld by IndyCar officials two hours after the race.
Having dominated qualifying, Penske's race went awry due to pit incidents and strategy miscues.
The race ended under yellow as Mike Conway made contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay and had a massive accident. The Dreyer & Reinbold car rode over the back of Hunter-Reay's Andretti Autosport entry and flew into the fencing, where its back end was ripped off before it crashed back down onto the track. Conway is being flown to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis with an injury to his right leg.
The yellow for that accident secured Franchitti's victory, for he went into the final lap extremely marginal on fuel as all the frontrunners tried to stretch their final tank-load over nearly 40 laps.
Franchitti had been the fastest man throughout the race, leading the vast majority of laps and heading the field by a margin of up to 10sec at times. He moved from third to first within the opening turns of the race, and apart from a brief battle with Will Power early on, he only lost the lead to strategy vagaries.
With several drivers gambling on alternate strategies at the end, Franchitti was back in fifth going into the last 22 laps, but aware that none of those ahead had much chance of reaching the finish on their current fuel loads without a miraculously long yellow.
When Helio Castroneves pitted eight laps from the end, Franchitti hit the front with Kanaan chasing him down. The Brazilian had flown through the field from his 33rd place start, but had not conserved sufficient fuel and had to pit with just four laps to go.
His stop moved Panther driver Wheldon into second after a quietly impressive surge up through the field. Marco Andretti looked set to at least salvage third for Andretti Autosport, but dropped to sixth in the confusion as the late yellow was called. Andretti was adamant that he was third when the caution happened and that the results should be amended.
But for now at least, Lloyd holds an incredible third position. The young Briton had been creeping towards the top 10 with a very competitive race car, and as others backed off or pitted with fuel worries in the closing laps he gained place after place and found himself a shock third.
Scott Dixon (Ganassi) was never a victory threat and lost a lot of ground when he lost a front wheel in the pitlane, before finally recovering to fourth.
Danica Patrick looked set for a top-12 finish at best, until she too gained huge ground amid the late fuel and yellow confusion and crossed the line in fifth.
The unfortunate Conway and his Dreyer & Reinbold teammate Justin Wilson had both led in the closing stages as the squad tried an alternate fuel strategy, and while Conway's race came to a sad end in the crash with Hunter-Reay, Wilson was elevated to seventh as the mayhem unfolded.
Power and Castroneves were Franchitti's main rivals in the early stints, only for Power to pull away from a pit stop with his fuel hose still attached, and Castroneves to stall in the pits later on, which left them eighth and ninth in the end. The Brazilian reappeared in the lead after pitting out of sequence but needed a lot more laps under yellow to make it to the finish. Ryan Briscoe crashed the third Penske entry just before three quarter distance.
FAZZT's Alex Tagliani ran in the top four at first, faded later and tumbled to 16th, before recovering to a fine 10th place ahead of the unfortunate Kanaan.
Qualifying stars Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman) and Ed Carpenter (Vision) had frustrating races. Rahal pitted out of sequence to attend to handling problems, charging back into the top ten, received a penalty for blocking Wheldon, then got back up to third on a strategy gamble before having to pit. He finished 12th, while Carpenter was a top-five contender until a lack of fuel forced him to stop illegally in a closed pit.
A blocking penalty also dropped Townsend Bell (Ganassi/Schmidt) out of the top 10, while Tomas Scheckter led for a while thanks to a well-timed pit stop and looked capable of a top four finish for Dreyer & Reinbold before losing ground in the final stops.
Several of the stars of the month were out before half-distance. There would be no fairytale for Bruno Junqueira, who crashed his FAZZT car after just seven laps. But he was not the first retirement – that unhappy honor falling to De Ferran Dragon's Davey Hamilton, who spun at Turn 2 on the very first lap and hit the inside wall.
His teammate Raphael Matos showed excellent pace, charging up to third behind Franchitti and Castroneves before things went horribly wrong at his second pit stop, when a rear wheel became detached as he accelerated away, causing him to spin. The crew retrieved the car and Matos rejoined, only to crash heavily soon afterwards.
Top-10 qualifier Hideki Mutoh struggled with handling problems from the outset and eventually parked his Newman/Haas car. Andretti Autosport's John Andretti crashed shortly after becoming the first man of the afternoon to be penalized for blocking Wheldon, while Mario Moraes (KV), owner/driver Sarah Fisher and Vitor Meira (Foyt) saw their races ended by relatively minor impacts with the barriers.
Pos Driver Team Gap
1. Dario Franchitti Ganassi 200 laps
2. Dan Wheldon Panther + 0.1536s
3. Marco Andretti Andretti + 23.5251s*
4. Alex Lloyd Dale Coyne + 20.9876s*
5. Scott Dixon Ganassi + 21.4922s*
6. Danica Patrick Andretti + 21.7560s*
7. Justin Wilson Dreyer & Reinbold + 25.9761s
8. Will Power Penske + 30.2474s
9. Helio Castroneves Penske + 33.0137s
10. Alex Tagliani FAZZT + 34.2482s
11. Tony Kanaan Andretti + 59.5957s
12. Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman + 59.9739s
13. Mario Romancini Conquest + 1m05.0219s*14. Simona de Silvestro HVM + 1m01.6745s*
15. Tomas Scheckter Dreyer & Reinbold + 1 lap
16. Townsend Bell Ganassi/Schmidt + 1 lap
17. Ed Carpenter Panther/Vision + 1 lap
18. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti + 2 laps
19. Mike Conway Dreyer & Reinbold + 2 laps
20. Takuma Sato KV + 2 laps
21. Ana Beatriz Dreyer & Reinbold + 4 laps
22. Bertrand Baguette Conquest + 17 laps
Sebastian Saavedra Herta 159 laps
Ryan Briscoe Penske 147 laps
EJ Viso KV 139 laps
Sarah Fisher Sarah Fisher 125 laps
Vitor Meira Foyt 105 laps
Hideki Mutoh Newman/Haas 76 laps
Raphael Matos De Ferran Dragon 72 laps
John Andretti Andretti 62 laps
Mario Moraes KV 17 laps
Bruno Junqueira FAZZT 7 laps
Davey Hamilton De Ferran Dragon 0 laps
* Finishing position revised on official review