Thriller: IndyCar Star Dario Franchitti Triumphs at Dramatic Indianapolis 500

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The Indianapolis 500 is an impressive spectacle every year. But this time around was nothing short of absolutely epic.

With swelling emotions clearly displayed on his face, Oakley IndyCar Star Dario Franchitti triumphed in dramatic fashion after the most closely fought Indianapolis 500 in history – lined with a record 35 lead changes to an action packed green finish.

“The emotion any time is incredible here,” Dario said, rocking his Oakley eyewear, racing gloves and racing boots. “But the emotion of coming here and celebrating Dan (Wheldon) – and seeing what he did last year, and the reaction of the fans from him, is even more incredible. I want to dedicate this to Dan. He was looking out for us today.”

Dario, fellow Oakley star Scott Dixon and the rest of Oakley’s team of drivers sported white colored Oakley eyewear to honor O family member, the late Wheldon, who took the victory last year.

And the ultra intense battles on the track proved to be even more of a tribute to the competitive spirit of the fallen star. The eventual victor was far from decided until the race’s final moments.

Tony Kanaan lead at the final restart – with Franchitti and Scott Dixon retaking the lead shortly after in Lap 194. It was a rotation of leaders from there, with Dixon smashing to the front in Lap 195.

With three laps to go, Franchitti powered his way back up front for a three-car length lead – only to see his teammate Dixon move ahead.

But Franchitti just could not be stopped, raging to the front of the pack with two laps left as a charging Takuma Sato chased for a shot at glory. A crash would ensue, as Sato would spin and smash into the wall – leaving Franchitti to run away with his third Indianapolis 500 victory and his first in green flag conditions.

“This target team never gives up,” he continued. “What a great job and what a turn around from qualifying. We’re celebrating 50 years of Target and I’m so proud of this whole team. One-two finish for Team Target with my buddy Scott Dixon. It was definitely a dog fight, but what a great day!”

Leading the race seven times throughout, Franchitti and fellow Oakley driver Scott Dixon – with nine – would account for 16 combined lead changes of the record 35 on the day.

All in all the 2012 Indy 500 was more than remarkable in both world-class on-track battles and intensely emotional tributes.