Franchitti Weathers Indy Storm

INDIANAPOLIS - It was a long and wet road to victory lane, but Dario Franchtti isn't complaining.

Franchitti was ahead when it counted as rain returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on lap 166 and the Andretti-Green Racing driver scored his first career Indianapolis 500 victory.

After being delayed nearly three hours just past the halfway point, wet weather returned to the speedway just 34 laps from the scheduled finish, forcing officials to call the race.

Franchtti inherited the top spot when he elected to stay on track when the two drivers ahead of him, teammate Tony Kanaan and defending champion Sam Hornish Jr., pitted during a caution on the 156th lap.

That proved to be the winning move as the Scotsman was in front when Mother Nature ended things early.

"It hasn't sunk in right now," Franchitti said. "To be a member of this club is fantastic. I kind of have half of an idea of what it means to win this race. I'm so happy."

"We cut a tire on debris and we had to make the pit stop," Franchitti said. "I can't believe it. It's the Indy 500."

Franchitti became the first Scotsman since Jim Clark to win the famed 500.

"I can hardly believe it," he continued saying. "Who would have thought it? I have thank my team. Can you believe it? The reason we went for that strategy was because we cut a tire on some debris. We had to make make the pit stop. And these guys called a great race. I was saving fuel uner the yellow. I was saving so much fuel. I can’t believe it. It’s the Indy 500!"

Franchtti's victory, his fifth career IRL win, helped the Andretti-Green Racing team overcome a disappointing day from three other of its members.

Kanaan looked like he had the field covered until his late pit stop shuffled him out of the lead.

He then crashed with 44 laps to go, ending his day and dream of winning his first 500.

Marco Andretti, who lost to Sam Hornish, Jr. in a photo finish a year ago, ended his day in a crash as well, winding up flipping on the backstretch after making contact with Buddy Rice.

Andretti was not injured in the incident.

"I'm one lucky guy,"Marco said. "'m so proud of Dario Franchitti."

And team owner Michael Andretti, who came out of retirement for another shot at winning the 500, struggled throughout the day and wound up 24th.

Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Hornish, Jr., and Ryan Briscoe rounded out the top five.

"That's the Indianapolis 500," said Castroneves, who was looking for his third 500 win. "You bet it all. Dario took a gamble. He'll be happy with the result and the paycheck."

Castroneves did think he could have had a chance to run down Franchitti had the raced finished its scheduled distance.

"After the rain, we made some changes," he said. "The car wasn't the way we liked it. We pitted, and that was incredible. The car was just a rocket ship. When I looked on the board, it was (Lap) 160. That's the time Rick Mears normally says go. And I went, and the car was real accepting. It is such a shame to not be able to finish green."

Danica Patrick challenged for the lead late in the race but her last pit stop shuffled her back in the field. She was able to finish eighth, giving her a top ten finish in all three of her Indy 500 starts.

"This elusive win keeps sitting on my shoulder," Patrick said. "Eighth is not anything like we wanted, especially since we were running second behind Tony for a long time. It's definitely a disappointing day."

The race saw several one car accidents, including Milka Duno, one of three women who started the 500.

Duno spun and hit the wall on lap 65. She was uninjured and listed in 31st place.

Another woman in the race, Sarah Fisher, had some early race trouble but was able to finish the race and was credited with an 18th place finish.

"Nothing was going our way," Fisher said. "I thought we had a car that was capable of finishing maybe 15th or 16th, but the speed just wasn't there. We've got to get better at that. We've got to have the pit stops go our way, all the calls and everything attached to that. It just has to be flawless at Indy. Today, it just wasn't."

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Auto Club 500

@ Auto Club Speedway
Saturday, October 19, 2013
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