INDIANAPOLIS - Tony Kanaan skidded out of control after a run-in with his teammate. Danica Patrick was clipped by another car just trying to get off pit road. With all those yellow flags, it was hard to get up to speed at the Indianapolis 500.
So when did Scott Dixon take the lead for the final time on his way to Victory Lane?
In the pits. During the last caution period, no less.
Speeding back to the track after the final round of stops, Dixon came out ahead of Vitor Meira — thanks a lot, crew — and pulled away over the final 29 laps to capture his first Indy 500 victory Sunday, holding off the Brazilian and hard-luck Marco Andretti.
The 27-year-old New Zealander started from the pole and stayed ahead of all the trouble, leading more laps than everyone else combined on a day when yellow was the predominant color, coming out eight times to slow up more than a third of the race.
“I didn’t know what it felt like, but it feels pretty bloody amazing,” Dixon said after taking a traditional sip of milk.
He stayed patient and focused even while making 69 of the 200 laps around the 2½-mile oval behind the pace car. Among those who weren’t around at the end: Kanaan, Patrick and 19-year-old Graham Rahal, the son of 1986 winner Bobby Rahal and last-place finisher in his first 500.
Dixon made the last pit stop trailing Meira, who had been out front for 12 laps after a daring move between Dixon and Ed Carpenter. But the red No. 9 car returned to the track with the lead.
“You just thought something was going to go wrong,” Dixon said. “There were so many yellows, it was really hard to get into a rhythm.”
Still savoring her landmark victory in Japan, Patrick failed to finish for the first time in four trips to Indy, though it wasn’t her fault. She was banged on pit road by Ryan Briscoe with 29 laps to go, breaking the left rear suspension on a car that had run in the top 10 most of the race but never challenged for the lead.
Patrick finished 22nd and was steaming afterward. After climbing out of her helpless car, she ripped off her gloves and stomped angrily toward Briscoe’s Team Penske pits. A track security official cut her off before she could get there.
“Probably best I didn’t get down there anyway,” Patrick said.
“It’s nice to see the fastest car win,” said Meira, who finished 1.75 seconds behind, driving for the one-car, low-budget Panther Racing team.
The Brazilian has never won an IndyCar race but finished runner-up in the biggest race of all for the second time in four years. Few remember that he was second to Dan Wheldon in 2005, the same year Patrick finished fourth — and got all the headlines — as an Indy rookie.
Andretti appeared to knock Kanaan, his Andretti Green Racing teammate, out of the race with an aggressive move just past the midway point, but all he got was another close call for a family that is now 1-for-57 at the Brickyard. The 21-year-old settled for third, while cousin John Andretti was 16th.
The Andretti Curse at Indy is alive and well. They can drive, for sure. They just can’t win.
See images from the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500.
Take a look at the history and records of the Indianapolis 500.
Indy 500 traditions
In a race celebrating its 92nd running, there are a number of traditions.
Video: Motor sports coverage
Kanaan racing 'for the fans'
Tony Kanaan is a fan favorite in Indianapolis, and he says that if he finally wins the Indy 500, it will be more for his fans than himself.
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