By the last 40 laps, there were still a legitimate eight or 10 cars in contention for the win, including a couple that had come from nowhere. Drivers like Ryan Briscoe, who'd fallen into the midfield after starting from pole, or fellow Chevrolet runners Oriol Servia and Ed Carpenter from 27th and 28th on the grid, were suddenly in the mix. Kanaan, too, had his strategy planned out for a stunner to possibly steal his elusive first Indianapolis 500 win.
After only four cautions in the first 151 laps, there were four in the final 49. Josef Newgarden, whose promising first month of May in the series, fought an ill-handling car all day and stopped past Turn 2 when his car shut off unexpectedly. There were niggling gearing issues and a bad rear balance, and his first pit stop dropped him from a top-10 position into the 20s, where he struggled to break out of the rest of the day.
Carpenter, who'd crept into the picture, had crept up to third but lost control out of Turn 1, and while spinning he managed to avoid hitting anything or being hit by anyone. That ended his chances after a great drive, largely unnoticed up to that point.
Andretti fell out on lap 188 when he lost control at Turn 1, and this came after Kanaan had restarted fifth and shot to first by Turn 1. Though Andretti initially blamed Servia for coming down on him, he apologized via Twitter late Sunday.
That set the stage for the final restart, where Kanaan led but unable to withstand the charge from the Ganassi teammates. Dixon and Franchitti swapped the lead several times before Franchitti made it past on the penultimate lap.
There will be more written, analyzed, and interpreted about Sato's passing attempt and how Franchitti defended his position, but the bottom line was this – it was the last lap of the 500, and Sato was always going to make an attempt. It was just a matter of where and when. When Sato's car washed up, he was in the wall, and Franchitti had his third 500 victory – all of which have come under caution.
The series shifts to Detroit next week, as Indianapolis was the first of a five-race stretch of races in as many weekends.
Results - 200 laps:
Pos Driver Team/Car Gap
1. Dario Franchitti Ganassi DW12-Honda
2. Scott Dixon Ganassi DW12-Honda + 0.0295s
3. Tony Kanaan KV DW12-Chevy + 0.0677s
4. Oriol Servia Panther/DRR DW12-Chevy + 2.9166s
5. Ryan Briscoe Penske DW12-Chevy + 3.6721s
6. James Hinchcliffe Andretti DW12-Chevy + 4.0962s
7. Justin Wilson Dale Coyne DW12-Honda + 4.2430s
8. Charlie Kimball Ganassi DW12-Honda + 4.6056s
9. Townsend Bell Schmidt DW12-Honda + 5.6168s
10. Helio Castroneves Penske DW12-Chevy + 7.6352s
11. Rubens Barrichello KV DW12-Chevy + 7.9240s
12. Alex Tagliani Herta DW12-Honda + 8.2543s
13. Graham Rahal Ganassi DW12-Honda + 8.7539s
14. JR Hildebrand Panther DW12-Chevy + 11.3423s
15. James Jakes Dale Coyne DW12-Honda + 13.4494s
16. Simon Pagenaud Schmidt DW12-Honda + 14.1382s
17. Takuma Sato Rahal DW12-Honda + 1 lap
18. EJ Viso KV DW12-Chevy + 1 lap
19. Michel Jourdain Jr Rahal DW12-Honda + 1 lap
20. Sebastien Bourdais Dragon DW12-Chevy + 1 lap
21. Ed Carpenter Carpenter DW12-Chevy + 1 lap
22. Katherine Legge Dragon DW12-Chevy + 1 lap
23. Ana Beatriz Andretti/Conquest DW12-Chevy + 10 laps
Marco Andretti Andretti DW12-Chevy 187 laps
Josef Newgarden Fisher DW12-Honda 161 laps
Sebastian Saavedra AFS/Andretti DW12-Chevy 143 laps
Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti DW12-Chevy 123 laps
Will Power Penske DW12-Chevy 79 laps
Mike Conway Foyt DW12-Honda 78 laps
Bryan Clauson Fisher DW12-Chevy 46 laps
Wade Cunningham Foyt DW12-Honda 42 laps
Jean Alesi Fan Force DW12-Lotus 10 laps
Simona de Silvestro HVM DW12-Lotus 9 laps