(photo courtesy IZOD IndyCar series)
Sunday was the 45th anniversary of the first Scotsman, Jim Clark, to win at the Indianapolis 500. That jovial Scotsman just happened to be Dario Franchitti’s boyhood hero. So it was at The Brickyard on May 30, 2010, the second coming of Scotland to this hallowed grounds.
At a place where speed is king, Sunday Dario Franchitti had to slow down in order to win his second Indy 500. The normally lightning fast Scotsman, who is married to actress Ashley Judd, had to be coaxed by team owner Chip Ganassi to lift his right foot off the accelerator to try to conserve what little fuel left in the fuel cell. The Target-Ganassi pit box had figured that Francitti might not have enough fuel to finish the race. In order to stretch out the fuel that was remaining in the fuel cell, they were coaching Dario to slow up and “save gas”.
Franchitti’s Target-Ganassi Racing #10 Target Dallara Honda was the absolute class of the 33 car field at The Brickyard Sunday, leading 155 of the 200 laps. For the car that consistently ran in excess of 224 mph all day, fuel consumption had become an issue by lap 197, Franchitti had slowed down to an average speed of 208 mph. Futhermore, by the next lap, Franchitti has slowed all the way down to 202 mph! That speed was more than 20 mph below his qualifying speed just a week previously.
Trailing Franchitti in second place was the 2005 Indy 500 winner, Dan Wheldon. However Wheldon, driving the Panther Racing #4 National Guard Dallara Honda, was also suffering the same fuel shortage issue. Additionally, the Target-Ganassi pit box and Franchitti wasn’t totally sure of how much fuel Wheldon had remaining in his fuel cell. they were hoping that Wheldon would be slowing his pace as well, trying to make it to the end of the race. The Target-Ganassi plan worked!
As Franchitti took the white flag, there was a horrible crash near the back of the pack of cars that was still in the short chute between turns 3 and 4. Ryan Hunter-Reay ran out of fuel and Mike Conway, who led the race only 40 laps previously, clipped Hunter-Reay’s left front tire sending him airborne and hard into the catchfence! Conway’s race car impacted the catchfence with such speed and force that it shredded the car. There were only two sizable pieces left, the cockpit titanium tub containing the driver, Mike Conway, and the engine/rear end! According to the Indianapolis Star, Conway escaped with some orthopaedic injuries to his left leg, most likely some fractures. Conway can consider himself a VERY luck man this morning!
So in what has, through the last few years, become a race between Team Penske and Target-Ganassi for the Indianapolis 500 victories, it was Target-Ganassi who was triumphant on May 30, 2010!
With that victory came another first in the two most prestigious levels of racing in the USA, Indy Car Series and NASCAR. It is the first time that one car owner has won both the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 in the same year!
What is your view of the 2010 Indy 500?
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!