May 27, 2012

The Indy 500: Franchitti Wins One For Wheldon

By - Kris Fletcher

One year ago, Dan Wheldon won his second Indianapolis 500.

Five months later, he was gone. Killed in a crash during the Izod IndyCar Series season finale in Las Vegas.

But on Sunday, Wheldon's spirit reigned over Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as the three drivers who knew him best -- and served as pallbearers at his funeral last October, crossed the finish line 1-2-3.

Photo by: AJ Mast
Yes. On a day where Indianapolis honored Wheldon's memory by having car owner Bryan Herta drive a single parade lap around the track in the car Wheldon drove to victory last year, and by giving fans white sunglasses to wear on laps 26 and 98, marking Wheldon's car numbers during his two Indy 500 wins, the race was swept by his three closest friends -- Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, and Tony Kanaan.

Kinda hard to chalk that up to coincidence.

"Racing is emotion. Life is as well," Franchitti said after becoming a three-time Indy 500 champion. "I really want to thank all the fans for saluting our Dan today. What a race."

Among the first to congratulate him? Susie Wheldon, Dan's widow. It was her first trip to any race track since her husband's death.

"I tell you what, she's a stronger person than I am to come here," Franchitti said.

Like Franchitti, Dixon and Kanaan also let it be known that Sunday was all about their fallen friend.

"I'm sure Dan is smiling down on us," Dixon said. "No doubt about it."

"Wherever he is right now, he's happy, I can tell you that," Kanaan said. "He's patting Dario on the back for sure."

While Sunday's race was about Franchitti climbing higher up on Indy's all-time list of giants, it was more about remembering a great driver and even better friend, one whose life was cut tragically short while doing the very thing he loved most.

A reputation enhanced. But most of all, a man remembered.


  1. Usually don't care that much for Indy Car but I always watch the 500. Crazy how it ended with those guys finishing 1 2 3. similar to how Earnhardt was killed at Daytona then Junior won the next race there. Its those type of things that make racing great.

  2. Good race. Hell of a finish too. I thought they did a real nice job honoring Wheldon also. First 500 I've watched from start to finish in years.

  3. Well said Kris