Dario Franchitti from Scotland was the first to the finish line at the Indy 500 on Sunday, winning his third title after navigating through a thrilling final lap.
Franchitti was neck-and-neck with Japanese driver Takuma Sato going into the race’s 200th lap, as both racers entered turn one side by side. With Sato veering low on the track and Franchitti accelerating to defend the lead, Sato looked as if he might have the angle on the front-runner until he suddenly lost control of the car and careened up the track, colliding with the wall as Franchitti emerged unscathed. Sato ended up crossing the finish line in 17th place.
The dramatic ending capped off an action-packed race, which was filled with the memory of Dan Wheldon, who won the Indy 500 last year, but died months later when his car crashed during the final race of the 2011 season.
(PHOTOS: Dan Wheldon Dies in a Fiery Crash)
Franchitti, who was a close friend of Wheldon, donned white sunglasses in the winner’s circle to honor his friend, saying, “”I want to thank all the fans for saluting our Dan today. What a race.”
And an exciting race it was. According to SB Nation, with 20 laps to go, there were more lead changes in this year’s race than any in Indy 500 history. Throughout the race, in fact, there were a grand total of 35 changes, as well as numerous cautions as nine drivers exited the contest due to crashes or malfunctions.
Franchitti’s teammate, Scott Dixon, finished second, while Tony Kanaan, who had the lead with six laps to go, came in third.
With reporting from the Associated Press
MORE: The 2011 Indy 500