2011 Indy 500: JR Hildebrand and the 10 Biggest Collapses in Sports History

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2011 Indy 500:  JR Hildebrand and the 10 Biggest Collapses in Sports History
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

He could see the finish line in front of him.

Rookie driver JR Hildebrand was just one turn away from accomplishing something other drivers spent a lifetime attempting to do: win the Indianapolis 500. 

Through a combination of strategy and good fortune, Hildebrand held a comfortable lead over one-time Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon as he entered Turn 4.

All he needed to do was successfully navigate around the turn, just like he had done the other 799 turns earlier in the race, and he would be drinking the famous milk jug in Victory Lane.

But whether it was panicking with a lapped car to his left, or being overcome with adrenaline, or a combination of both, Hildebrand slammed his car into the wall, and helplessly watched Wheldon pass him, as his destroyed car rolled over the finish line.

The fact he still finished second was a testament to just how big of a lead he had over the field, considering he crossed the finish line with only two working wheels. 

While Wheldon's victory was certainly a feel good story, it's the failure of Hildebrand that will be long remembered from this race.

Years from now, his wreck will be shown in highlight reels of the best Indy 500 finishes along the likes of the split second conclusion of the 1992 race with Al Unser Jr. and Scott Goodyear. 

But is Hildebrand's wreck really the worst choke job ever?  Here is a look at the 10 biggest collapses in sports history. 

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