Scotland’s Dario Franchitti won the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 – and with it the IndyCar series championship – when his closest rival Scott Dixon ran out of fuel with victory in his grasp.
With just a handful of laps remaining Franchitti’s hopes had seemed dim as he was stuck behind the Chip Ganassi Racing pair of Dixon and Dan Wheldon.
But then everything changed.
Wheldon ran out of fuel and plunged down the race order, Danica Patrick spun entering the pitlane, and the race continued under yellow until lap 198 – ushering in a two-lap shootout between race leader Dixon and Franchitti, a third of a second back, for the title.
And in the end it wasn’t driving ability that won the day but the size of the Andretti Green Racing fuel tank.
Dixon led by half a car’s length as the final lap began, but suffered the same fate as Wheldon as they raced side-by-side along the back stretch, allowing Franchitti to sweep past on turn three and win by 1.8sec.
Afterwards, Franchitti revealed that he, too, had been running on fumes as the race ended. He said: “I was drafting (Dixon) and going for the slingshot, and just as I pulled out I saw him slow down. I almost hit the back of him. We shot up the track and that was it.”
Sam Hornish Jr finished third, a lap down, but wasn’t quite able to overhaul Wheldon in the series standings: the Englishman held onto fourth in the title race by a single point.
Franchitti’s Andretti Green Racing colleague Tony Kanaan, who had an outside chance of winning the championship at the start of the day, finished sixth in the race and third in the final standings without unduly worrying the two leaders in either contest.