Monday, May 28, 2012

Focused Franchitti Fulfils Third Indy 500 Win


A 500-mile, 200-lap celebration where people gather around 33 speed-oriented automobiles at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis 500 is a titanic struggle that one who prevail with the ultimate prize of the Borg-Warner trophy.

The 96th edition of what is one of the motorsport community’s most sought-over events on the planet started under some of the hottest Memorial day temperatures in the Indiana area. Either slightly below or above records according to weather measurements, the National Weather Service reported the mercury at 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Providing for a challenge to the drivers and pit crew members of the 33 individual teams, everyone suited-up ready to accept the heat as another variable to contend with on the Sunday afternoon.

Photo Credit: Steve Swope /(C)2012 Steve Swope Photography

Without a hitch, the first Indianapolis 500 with the 2012 IZOD INDYCAR Series’ new DW12 Dallara and engine formula was set to roll off after the traditional remembrance of armed forces. The pre-race also involved a special tribute to the 2011 Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon with his race-winning race car being piloted around the track by the Brit’s team owner Bryan Herta. A moment that was both beautiful and somber even with the roar of the car’s Honda engine deaden by the ongoing grieving of the driver lost last year at Las Vegas. A memory coinciding with the tribute to lost military defenders and the living veterans, there was definitely a heightened human connection that the auto racing community would enter the 2012 Indy 500 acknowledging.

Lining three-wide for the green flag, the field was led by the Australian Ryan Briscoe joined by Canadian James Hinchcliffe and American driver Ryan Hunter-Reay. An Indy 500 led by a row of non-race winners, the race started with those 3 of 33 drivers wanting Borg-Warner trophy as they prepare their first of 200 laps. Right from the start, the #27 Andretti Autosport-owned vehicle of Hinchcliffe secured a momentary advantage over Ryan Briscoe’s #2 Penske Racing car. From the start of the race to lap 18, Ryan Briscoe and James Hinchcliffe exchanged the lead on 6 occasions.

Photo Credit: Steve Swope /(C)2012 Steve Swope Photography

The first Indy 500 for Chevrolet since 1993, the first 44 laps featured Penske Racing and Andretti Autosport sending their 2012 engine supplier a message of firm support. Between Hinchcliffe, Briscoe and later the #26 Andretti Autosport car of Marco Andretti, the chances of one of those drivers being the first bowtie brand pilot to victory lane since Emerson Fittipadi in 1993 looked good. It was on lap 45 that Honda Racing Development led their first race lap. French-Canadian driver Alex Tagliani (driving for the Bryan Herta Autosport team that won the 2011 Indy 500 with Dan Wheldon) led two laps at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during a green flag pit stop exchange.

For the two Lotus-engined vehicles driven by HVM Racing‘s Simona de Silvestro and former Formula 1 driver Jean Alesi, the 2012 race was what would constitute as an embarrassment. By lap 10, both race cars were black-flagged for lack of pace in the Indy 500. Jean Alesi would finish 32nd while 2010 Indy 500 rookie of the year Simona de Silvestro finished last in the 2012 event. "I'm disappointed, but we didn't have speed from the beginning. I understand the call. We have to have more horsepower to be competitive.” said de Silvestro after her very short 9-lap race with the #78 HVM Racing car. The Indy 500 race results cap what has been a disastrous month-long of efforts with the Lotus engines in 2012 IZOD INDYCAR Series competition.

In the first 80 laps of the Indianapolis 500, the performance of the Dallara DW12 race car in competition was demonstrated to much success. However, it would be on lap 80 where the new racing vehicle was tested in a serious crash at the Brickyard. Contact between a the #12 Penske Racing car of Will Power and a damaged vehicle of Mike Conway that spun on track resulted in a big turn 2 crash. Both drivers left their cars unhurt, the Australian driver Power was rather upset with his retirement coming after three IZOD INDYCAR Series race wins coming into the event. "(Conway) said the team sent him out with a broken wing. I don't understand why they would do that.” said Power who holds a best finish in the 500-mile race of 5th place coming in 2009. While the oval was never a strong-suit for Will Power, the 2012 race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was his first retirement in competition at the track.

As the race entered into half-distance, the Honda-powered race car of Scott Dixon began showing impressive pace at the front. The #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing was competing at the front while teammate Dario Franchitti was recovering from an early race pit road incident on lap 18. Franchitti was spun when the KV Racing Technology car driven by EJ Viso impacted the rear of the #50 Target car. By lap 91, Dario Franchitti had been revived to a 2nd place run behind Dixon.

Aside from the Target Chip Ganassi Racing machine, the #15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing car had emerged as a frontrunner in the hands of Japan’s Takuma Sato. Sato took the lead of the Indy 500 from Scott Dixon on lap 119 to lead for the first of three occasions in the second-half of the race.

Past the halfway point, the 96th Indy 500 was a wide-open affair where at least 6 drivers were able to seriously contend for the win. While the Target Chip Ganassi Racing cars and Sato’s race vehicle were favourites, James Hinchcliffe was one of the drivers in the hunt for a victory. In what was only his second Brickyard competition in IZOD INDYCAR Series vehicles, Hinchcliffe ran steady in the top-10 throughout the 2012 Indianapolis 500. While fast, James Hinchcliffe was hampered on restarts or a set of slow pit stops including one on lap 166 where dropped from 5th to 11th place. James Hinchcliffe would work has way back to 6th place at the end of 200 laps still pursuing his first IZOD INDYCAR Series race win with his #27 Andretti Autosport car.

Three cautions occurred through the final 20 laps of the 2012 Indianapolis 500 including one involving early race favourite Marco Andretti. Crashing his #26 car on lap 187 on turn 1, Andretti’s 24th place finish was the end result of a frustrating second-half of the event for the driver. Expressed through animated radio chatter, Marco Andretti pressured himself and his father’s race team to what he hoped could be his first Indy 500. In post-race, Andretti indicate the Dreyer and Reinbold Racing car of Oriol Servia was the reason for his race end. "(Oriol) Servia decided to run two-wide at Indianapolis for two consecutive laps and makes me turn in from the white line. I had no hope of making that corner because not only am I turning in from the white line, he just crossed my bow, so I was completely out of it. Nothing I can do. I'm disappointed. I definitely rang my bell” said Andretti shortly after his retirement from the 2012 Indy 500. Marco Andretti would recant his criticism later on Twitter messaging, “Sorry for blaming @OriolServia. Was frustrated and totally out of it. I made my own bed there. Very sore. Unlucky but lucky.”

With a restart on lap 194, it was the two Target Chip Ganassi Racing cars of Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti who were in immediate position to achieve victory at the Brickyard. Swapping the lead twice ahead of the final lap, the Target cars battle for track position allowed Takuma Sato to stay close to the leaders through the last run of the Indy 500. With Dario Franchitti in the lead, Sato passed second-place #9 car of Scott Dixon and promptly mounted a charge on the #50 into turn one. With Franchitti and Sato sailing into the narrow first corner side-by-side, the tight battle resulted in the #15 traveling low into the turn and would lose control of his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing car. Impacting the turn 1 wall, Takuma Sato’s attempt to beat Dario Franchitti resulted in a full-course yellow that preserved victory for the #50 car.


Dario Franchitti crossed the start/finish line after 200 laps of the Indianapolis 500 just ahead of teammate Dixon. The Scottish driver’s third Indy 500 victory, Franchitti dedicated the victory to the late Dan Wheldon. For many competitors in the 2012 race, the thought of having their face image on the Borg-Warner trophy beside Wheldon’s would have been a high honour to a past racer that was a friend of many drivers.I think racing is emotion. “Life is, as well. But racing I think really exemplifies that, if that's the right word. And Vegas was the lowest of the low.” said Franchitti in post-race describing on the emotions involved in the sport of auto racing. “Fontana '99 and Vegas last year were the lowest of the low. I think the reason we all got back in the cars, the reasons all the mechanics got back in pit lane, the fans came back to the races, is days like today, the emotion of something like today. That's certainly why I got back in the car.“ said Franchitti. Dario Franchitti captured car owner Chip Ganassi’s 4th 500-mile race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.


With Honda winning the 2012 Indianapolis 500, they have won their 9th consecutive victory in the event. Facing firm competition from Chevrolet, Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon finished ahead of the bowtie powered #11 car of Tony Kanaan. The high-finishing Chevrolet engined car at the end of the 2012 race, the effort for Kanaan and KV Racing Technology is much-needed momentum as the Brazilian continues to seek consistency through the 2012 IZOD INDYCAR Series season.

Converting to Chevrolet power just ahead of the Indy 500, the #22 Dreyer and Reinbold Racing car driven by Oriol Servia ended a solid 4th after qualifying 27th. Ryan Briscoe completed the top-5 in the finishing order of the 96th Indianapolis 500.

2012 IZOD INDYCAR Series
96th Indianapolis 500
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Race Results

Pos # Car # Driver Race Team Engine Supplier
1 50 Dario Franchitti Target/Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
2 9 Scott Dixon Target/Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
3 11 Tony Kanaan KV Racing Technology Chevrolet
4 22 Oriol Servia Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet
5 2 Ryan Briscoe Team Penske Chevrolet
6 27 James Hinchcliffe Andretti Autosport Chevrolet
7 18 Justin Wilson Dale Coyne Racing Honda
8 83 Charlie Kimball Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
9 99 Townsend Bell Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports Honda
10 3 Helio Castroneves Team Penske Chevrolet
11 8 Rubens Barrichello KV Racing Technology Chevrolet
12 98 Alex Tagliani Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb Agajanian Honda
13 38 Graham Rahal Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
14 4 JR Hildebrand Panther Racing Chevrolet
15 19 James Jakes Dale Coyne Racing Honda
16 77 Simon Pagenaud Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports Honda
17 15 Takuma Sato Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
18 5 EJ Viso KV Racing Technology Chevrolet
19 30 Michel Jourdain Jr Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
20 7 Sebastien Bourdais Lotus-Dragon Racing Chevrolet
21 20 Ed Carpenter Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
22 6 Katherine Legge Lotus-Dragon Racing Chevrolet
23 25 Ana Beatriz Andretti Autosport/Conquest Racing Chevrolet
24 26 Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport Chevrolet
25 67 Josef Newgarden Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda
26 17 Sebastian Saavedra AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport Chevrolet
27 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport Chevrolet
28 12 Will Power Team Penske Chevrolet
29 14 Mike Conway AJ Foyt Enterprises Honda
30 39 Bryan Clauson Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda
31 41 Wade Cunningham AJ Foyt Enterprises Honda
32 78 Simona de Silvestro Lotus-HVM Racing Lotus
33 64 Jean Alesi Lotus – FP Journe – Fan Force United Lotus

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