Dan Wheldon Wins Indy 500 After Rival Crashes

Wheldon finally takes the lead as JR Hildebrand slams wall
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted May 30, 2011 4:00 AM CDT
Dan Wheldon Grabs Indy 500 After Rival Crashes
IndyCar driver JR Hildebrandcrashes into the wall on the final lap as driver Dan Wheldon takes the checkered flag to win the Indianapolis 500.   (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

A spectacular crash on the last turn of the last lap made this year's Indianapolis 500 one of the most exciting in recent memory, giving Dan Wheldon his second win at the fabled track. It was just the second time a driver—Wheldon rival rookie JT Hildebrande—lost the lead on the last lap. It was also the second time a winner didn't lead until the final lap (the first time happened in 1912). "It's obviously unfortunate, but that's Indianapolis," said Wheldon. "That's why it's the greatest spectacle in racing. You never now what's going to happen." Hildebrande was not hurt in the crash.

Hildebrand had been leading by nearly 4 seconds, but on the very last turn he went too high, lost control, and crashed into the outer wall, recounts ESPN. But even with the crash, his mangled car had enough momentum to scrape across the finish line in second. "Is it a move I would do again? No," Hildebrand said. "It's just a bummer." Wheldon's victory was an especially surprising win, as he does not even have a full-time racing team, and this was just his first race of the year for the young Bryan Herta Autosport. "I think my contract expires at midnight tonight," Wheldon said. "I'm not normally that emotional, but it was just an incredible day." (More Indianapolis 500 stories.)

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