Wheldon wins Indy 500
Dan Wheldon has continued his stellar start to the 2005 Indycar season by becoming the first Briton to win the Indianapolis 500 since Graham Hill in 1966. The Andretti Green Racing driver won ahead of Vitor Meira, Bryan Herta and Danica Patrick, who becam
It is Wheldon who drank the milk and put his name in the record books as the 89th winner of the prestigious 500 miles of Indianapolis, but it is Danica Patrick who will dominate the headlines after coming within seven laps of making motor racing history.
Patrick had been running strongly in the top five before a caution period and a stalled engine dropped her down the field. The Rahal Letterman driver fought back into the top ten only to lose control of her car on a restart, sending her careering into the side of Tomas Enge, damaging her nose cone.
Patrick immediately dived down pit lane for repairs, returning to the pack down in 16th position. Bobby Rahal then concocted the master plan of bringing her back in for fuel - enough to get her to the end of the race knowing that the rest of the field would still have to pit.
Indeed they did, leaving Patrick out front with just over twenty laps remaining. The Phoenix-born driver lmed comfortably before being taken by Dan Wheldon, who had calmly carved his way through the field from 16th on the grid, before the penultimate caution period on lap 181 of 200.
The lights went to green and Wheldon hit the throttle, but Patrick gave chase and led into turn one. She pulled out a small lead as lap 190 clocked up and thoughts of victory began to ring out.
However, on lap 193, Wheldon dived down the inside of Patrick, giving him not only great momentum out of the turn, but forced Patrick out of the throttle, pushing her back down to fourth as she was forced to save fuel to finish.
The 23-year-old Patrick fought back tears after the race, saying, "For a second I thought we were going to win".
Vitor Meira and Bryan Herta attempted to close down the leading Brit until Indy 500 rookie Sebastien Bourdais brought out the final caution period on lap 198, handing Wheldon an easy stroll to victory.
"This has been a dream," said an emotional Wheldon after swigging the traditional bottle of milk in Victory Circle. "I've been thinking about this ever since I first came here in 1999. I've loved the Indy 500 since I was a little kid in England."
Former Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier finished fifth with Scotland's very own Dario Franchitti sixth, Scott Sharp seventh and defending IRL Champion Tony Kanaan eighth despite having battled for the lead with Sam Hornish Jr for most of the race.
Hornish, Bruno Juqueira and Bourdais were the victims of hard shunts into the SAFER wall.