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Associated Press, Published May 27 2012

Franchitti wins his third Indianapolis 500

Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS – Dario Franchitti stamped his name in the record books, the latest three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500.

But this was not about Franchitti: It was all for Dan Wheldon.

Franchitti won a wheel-to-wheel, last-lap battle Sunday, sailing away to the checkered flag when Takuma Sato spun out trying to make one last pass on the inside and slammed into the wall. Franchitti’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon crossed the finish line right behind the Scotsman.

Third went to Tony Kanaan, making it a podium sweep for Wheldon’s three closest friends in the IndyCar series. Wheldon, the defending race winner and a two-time champ, was killed in the October season finale, and the entire day was in honor of D-dub, their fallen friend.

“Everybody up there was a friend of Dan’s, and that about sums it up. Everybody loved him,” said Franchitti as bagpipes played over the public address system.

“What a race! What a race!” Franchitti said. “I think D-dub would be proud of that one.”

Kanaan, who used a bold move on a late restart to dart from fifth to first, couldn’t hold off Franchitti and Dixon on the last restart. It left him winless in 11 career attempts at Indy, but he was OK with the final result.

“Actually it was good for Dan, his three best friends fighting for the win,” Kanaan said. “Danny, wherever he is right now, I think he’s extremely happy. His three best friends in the top three.”

Wheldon’s wife, Susie, went to Victory Lane to congratulate Franchitti, who hid his tears of joy behind a pair of white sunglasses worn in tribute because they were Wheldon’s preference. She then sat next to Franchitti’s wife, actress Ashley Judd, in the backseat of the convertible – the same seat she had a year ago for Wheldon’s win – for the victory lap around the 2.5-mile oval.