Wheldon wins 100th Indy 500 in astonishing finish

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Dan Wheldon celebrates his second Indy 500 victory on Sunday.
Dan Wheldon took advantage of a mistake by rookie JR Hildebrand, who hit the wall coming out of the final turn while leading, to win the 100th annual Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.

“I just felt a lot of relief. It’s an incredible feeling,” Wheldon said. “I never gave up.”

“It’s a fantastic achievement everybody at Bryan Herta Autosport,” Wheldon added in his emotional post-race interview in victory lane. “I love everything about Indianapolis – the tradition, the fans, the history.”

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The Indy 500 was Wheldon’s first race of the season and the only race he is scheduled to run with Bryan Herta Autosport after the 2005 Indy 500 champion failed to secure a full-time ride this season. In fact, Wheldon was replaced by Hildebrand prior to the start of the season in the No. 4 National Guard car.

Hildebrand wrecked while attempting to maneuver around the lap car of Charlie Kimball.

“I caught him in the wrong piece of track,” Hildebrand said. “I got up in the marbles and that was it.”

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The wrecked car of JR Hildebrand crosses the Indy 500 finish line
He wound up finishing second in his damaged car, two seconds behind Wheldon. It was the California rookie’s first Indy 500.

 

 

Graham Rahal, Tony Kanaan and Orial Servia rounded out the top-five. Scott Dixon, Bertrand Baguette, Thomas Scheckter and Mario Andretti finished in positions 6-9. Danica Patrick, who was leading late in the race, finished tenth after pitting for fuel late in the race.

“It’s more and more depressing when I don’t win the race,” Patrick said. “But Dan Wheldon, he’s a great winner. And what a great story. He hasn’t run this year. … That’s really cool.”

The first 3/4 of the race made it appear that a Chip Ganassi Car would be the favorite to win the Indy 500, but other drivers took over the reigns in the final 1/4 of the race, with drivers such as Graham Rahal and Baguette took turns at the front.

Last year’s race winner Dario Franchitti was second with five laps to go, but had to stop for fuel and forfeit a chance to repeat after leading 51 laps. Dixon led 73 laps in the race, with lap 178 being the final lap his or Franchitti’s car was seen out front.

Danica Patrick took the lead on 179, and held until she came into pit for a splash of fuel on lap 189.  Baguette picked up the lead until lap 197, when Hildebrand took the lead. Hildebrand held the lead for 1.75 laps, until the accident, when Wheldon took the race lead for the first and only time of the event.

Notes:  The one lap led by race winner Wheldon is the least number of laps led by an eventual race winner of the Indy 500. … Wheldon is the 18th driver to win the Indy 500 multiple times. … This race was the first time since 1992 that all Penske cars finished outside of the top-ten.  Will Power finished 14th as the highest finishing Penske driver. … This is the second time that a driver has lost first place on the final lap. Rookies have been the victim both times, Hildebrand this year and Marco Andretti in 2006.

IZOD IndyCar Series
100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500
INDIANAPOLIS – Results Sunday of the 2011 Indianapolis 500 IZOD IndyCar Series event on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1.  (6) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
2.  (12) JR Hildebrand, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
3.  (29) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
4.  (22) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
5.  (2) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
6.  (3) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
7.  (14) Bertrand Baguette, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
8.  (21) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
9.  (27) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
10.  (25) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
11.  (8) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
12.  (9) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
13.  (28) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Honda, 199, Running
14.  (5) Will Power, Dallara-Honda, 199, Running
15.  (11) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 199, Running
16.  (19) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 199, Running
17.  (16) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 199, Running
18.  (7) Buddy Rice, Dallara-Honda, 198, Running
19.  (30) Alex Lloyd, Dallara-Honda, 198, Running
20.  (31) Pippa Mann, Dallara-Honda, 198, Running
21.  (32) Ana Beatriz, Dallara-Honda, 197, Running
22.  (17) John Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 197, Running
23.  (33) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 197, Running
24.  (15) Davey Hamilton, Dallara-Honda, 193, Running
25.  (24) Paul Tracy, Dallara-Honda, 175, Running
26.  (4) Townsend Bell, Dallara-Honda, 157, Contact
27.  (26) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 157, Contact
28.  (1) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Honda, 147, Contact
29.  (13) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 99, Contact
30.  (20) Jay Howard, Dallara-Honda, 60, Contact
31.  (23) Simona de Silvestro, Dallara-Honda, 44, Handling
32.  (18) EJ Viso, Dallara-Honda, 27, Contact
33.  (10) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 20, Contact

Race Statistics
Winners average speed:  170.265
Time of Race: 2:56:11.7267
Margin of victory: Under Caution
Cautions: 7 for 40
Lead changes: 23 among 10 drivers
Lap Leaders: Dixon 1-7, Tagliani 8-26, Dixon 27-33, Tagliani 34, Dixon 35-60, Franchitti 61, Carpenter 62-64, Franchitti 65-72, Dixon 73-98, Franchitti 99, Hildebrand 100-103, Franchitti 104-112, Servia 113-128, Franchitti 129-137, Hildebrand 138, Baguette 139-140, Franchitti 141-163, Servia 164-165, Rahal 166-171, Dixon 172-178, Patrick 179-188, Baguette 189-197, Hildebrand 198-199, Wheldon 200.
Point Standings: Power 194, Franchitti 178, Servia 150, Kanaan 135, Dixon 129, Rahal 120, Briscoe 117, Hildebrand 113, Tagliani 110, Mike Conway 102.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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