Sunday, May 29, 2011

Wheldon Wins

On the final corner of the final lap of the 2011 Indianapolis 500, Rookie JR Hildebrand was in the catbird seat. With a healthy lead, and plenty of fuel, all the Panther driver had to do was execute his 800th turn of the day like he had the first 799 and keep his $25K steering wheel straight down the front stretch.

Entering Turn Four the only driver standing between Hildebrand and his face on the Borg Warner was Ganassi Rookie Charlie Kimball. Kimball, one lap down, was riding the low line. In an attempt to pass, Hildebrand moved up into the gray and into the marbles.

Hitting the very end of the SAFER barrier with his right side, the #4 National Guard Dallara slid along the front straight outer wall and through the Start/Finish line. Unfortunately for the Panther crew their streak of 3 straight second place finishes in the Greatest Spectacle would continue as Bryan Herta Autosport veteran Dan Wheldon blew past with just a few hundred yards to go, for his second Indianapolis 500 victory. Following just over 2-seconds behind was the destroyed #4 entry of Hildebrand.

Rumors of a possible protest by Panther Racing on the grounds that Dan Wheldon passed Hildebrand under yellow were squashed when the team confirmed on their Twitter page that a protest would not be made. Even if questions were raised about the legitimacy of the win, it's likely they wouldn't last long as the above video clearly shows the #98 passed the #4 when the yellow light comes on.

The win by Wheldon will also go down in the record books as least laps led by a winner. In 1912 Joe Dawson led the final two laps of the 500 mile contest, while Wheldon led just the final few hundred yards.
Without a ride for not only the remainder of the season but at this point for any other events, Wheldon admitted in a post race press conference that his contract with BHA was up at midnight tonight.

The Official 2011 Indy 500 standings:
  1. Dan Wheldon
  2. JR Hildebrand
  3. Graham Rahal
  4. Tony Kanaan
  5. Scott Dixon
  6. Oriol Servia
  7. Bertrand Baguette
  8. Tomas Scheckter
  9. Marco Andretti
  10. Danica Patrick
  11. Ed Carpenter
  12. Dario Franchitti
  13. Charlie Kimball
  14. Will Power
  15. Vitor Meira
  16. Justin Wilson
  17. Helio Castroneves
  18. Buddy Rice
  19. Alex Lloyd
  20. Pippa Mann
  21. Ana Beatriz
  22. John Andretti
  23. Ryan Hunter-Reay
  24. Davey Hamilton
  25. Paul Tracy
  26. Townsend Bell
  27. Ryan Briscoe
  28. Alex Tagliani
  29. James Hinchcliffe
  30. Jay Howard
  31. Simona De Silvestro
  32. EJ Viso
  33. Takuma Sato


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