Dario Does It Again At The Indy 500
On the hottest recorded Indy 500 race day in history, reaching 96 degrees on the grounds and 131 on the course, the 94th running was a heated battle in more ways than one. At the start things were chaotic with the #21 car of Davey Hamilton crashing and spinning off the track in turn number two of the first lap!
The race saw two black flags; nine crashes, including the final lap and perhaps one of the more strategic victories witnessed in decades. Oakley’s Dario Franchitti from Scotland lead most of the race and at times pulled head of the pack by over four seconds to the next closest driver. But with several pit stop mishaps creating a stir in the field, including Oakley’s Scott Dixon and Rafael Matos both losing a tire on the same pit stop while pulling out, things were getting interesting.
Matos who rocks the Oakley racing suit, boots, gloves and Elite Collection Pitboss eyewear would push and move he’s #2 HP car into the third position before the pit stop fiasco, which would lead to a crash into the wall several laps later. Dixon in his Oakley racing boots and gloves would recover from his tough pit stop and eventually pull through the field to take a solid fifth position at the finish line. Rounding out the top ten for Oakley was C-6 wearing Justin Wilson from Great Britain in the eighth position.
But in the end the real story was Scotsman Dario Franchitti’s ability to squeak by on just 1.6 gallons of fuel remaining in his tank to cross the finish line ahead of a hard charging Dan Wheldon.
“Still running,” exclaimed Dario to his crew through his mic as he crossed the finish line.
Franchitti had owned the track and led 154 of the 200 laps, but came just moments from running out of gas. Thankfully Team Target is well versed in dealing with potential disaster when it comes to fuel issues and helped coach Dario through the final laps to victory.
“I was concerned about running out of fuel,” said Dario. “The guys were, like, ‘Just get to the finish. Just see if you’ll get to the finish.”
The crew pressed Franchitti to conserve fuel with about 15 laps left. He did as he was instructed and the pay off was a fourth Indy 500 victory for Oakley’s motorsport program in the 21st century, following Scott Dixon’s 2008, Dario’s first win in 2007 and Juan Pablo Montoya’s 2000 victories.
In victory lane Dario put on his custom Oakley Hijinx with red icons and climbed out of his car to the roaring excitement of 300,000 plus fans. As he made his way to victory circle, Franchitti was met by his wife Ashley Judd and Team Target owner Chip Ganassi. The moment overwhelmed Franchitti as his wife wiped away tears of joy from his face.
“It’s much easier when you’re just running wide open,” said Dario. “But that’s part of it. Strategy is part of racing… you have to find the best way to get to the finish line. We go racing, and we like to win.”
This year’s Indy 500 was well attended by fans and celebrates alike. Two-time Academy Award winner Jack Nicholson waved the opening “green” flag to start the race and the creator of HBO’s Entourage, Mark Wahlberg ran in a dual seated IndyCar driven by Mario Andretti to lead the start of the race. If anyone is still second guessing IndyCar’s return to elite status in the racing world, they need not look any further than yesterday’s spectacle of the “Greatest Single Day Race In The World” at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
On the front cover of every newspaper in America today you will see Dario Franchitti, two-time Indy 500 champion wearing his Oakley Hijinx sunglass!