Indy 500 2012: Where Dario Franchitti Ranks Among All-Time Greats

Alex Field@@afield7Correspondent IIMay 28, 2012

Dario Franchitti
Dario FranchittiJonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Dario Franchitti overcame a number of hurdles to capture his third Indianapolis 500.

Firstly, the day undoubtedly belonged to the late Dan Wheldon, who was killed during an October crash in the IndyCar season finale.

Franchitti, who was close friends with Wheldon, was seemingly racing in tribute to his fallen friend, while also etching his name in IndyCar history.

Franchitti was also able to weather some setbacks early on as he climbed back from last place en route to becoming the 10th driver to secure three or more 500 victories.

The race was no cakewalk itself, and was not decided until the final lap when Takuma Sato made a last-lap pass attempt, but did not have enough room on the inside and ended up spinning into the wall.

The race was competitive for nearly the duration, as ten different drivers held the lead 34 times—the most in race history—breaking the previous mark of 29 in 1960.

Along with the tight competition, the drivers had to deal with the scorching heat as it hit 91 degrees, one shy of the Indy 500 record set in 1937.

However, it was Franchitti who tasted the ice-cold milk following the race. He also donned a pair of white sunglasses in honor of Wheldon.

With the win, Franchitti continues his climb through the record books. With one more victory, Franchitti will move into seventh place among wins and will join the elites of open-wheel racing.

Franchitti is already the reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion, and has captured three others in addition to last season’s while proving himself as a force to be reckoned with on the raceway.

He has already notched 31 total wins and one more victory would separate him from Paul Tracy and Sebastien Bourdais.

At that point, Franchitti would truly join the upper echelon of open-wheel racing.

If this year’s Indy 500 is any indication, Franchitti will continue to compete for first-place finishes and championships for years to come, which could push him past all three Unsers who occupy the all-time top six: Al Sr., Bobby and Al Jr.

With seemingly more years in front of him, Franchitti could go down as one of the best ever in open-wheel racing.