2012 Indy 500: Dario Franchitti Wins As Takuma Sato Crashes Late

Dario Franchitti won at the Brickyard for the third time in his career, holding on after Takuma Sato wrecked after trying to pass Franchitti for the lead on the final lap. Scott Dixon finished second and Tony Kanaan third.

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Indianapolis 500 2012 Purse: Dario Franchitti Collects Nearly $2.5 Million With Victory

After taking the checkered flag during Sunday's 96th running of the Indianapolis 500, Dario Franchitti became nearly $2.5 million richer.

Or $2,474,280 richer, to be exact.

The three-time winner earned 19 percent of the overall race purse with the win. The prize money was announced Monday night at the Victory Awards Celebration at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Second place finisher Scott Dixon earned $1.1 million, and Tony Kanaan, who finished third, won more than $635K.

Franchitti became the 10th driver to win at least three 500s, joining Helio Castroneves as the only three-time winner currently racing on the IndyCar circuit. Franchitti led seven times for 23 laps during the race, which set an Indianapolis 500 record with 34 lead changes.

Complete race and purse results (with the racer's starting position in parentheses) are below:

1. (16) Dario Franchitti, $2,474,280
2. (15) Scott Dixon, $1,102,280
3. (8) Tony Kanaan, $636,580
4. (27) Oriol Servia, $443,430
5. (1) Ryan Briscoe, $489,930
6. (2) James Hinchcliffe, $357,680
7. (21) Justin Wilson, $303,430
8. (14) Charlie Kimball, $277,655
9. (20) Townsend Bell, $251,305
10. (6) Helio Castroneves, $308,930
11. (10) Rubens Barrichello, $331,080
12. (11) Alex Tagliani, $252,205
13. (12) Graham Rahal, $306,680
14. (18) JR Hildebrand, $306,680
15. (17) James Jakes, $252,555
16. (23) Simon Pagenaud, $303,680
17. (19) Takuma Sato, $301,755
18. (9) EJ Viso, $303,430
19. (22) Michel Jourdain, $253,305
20. (25) Sebastien Bourdais, $252,805
21. (28) Ed Carpenter, $304,930
22. (30) Katherine Legge, $303,680
23. (13) Ana Beatriz, $252,805
24. (4) Marco Andretti, $368,480
25. (7) Josef Newgarden, $257,805
26. (24) Sebastian Saavedra, $256,305
27. (3) Ryan Hunter-Reay, $346,680
28. (5) Will Power, $310,430
29. (29) Mike Conway, $305,430
30. (31) Bryan Clauson, $258,055
31. (26) Wade Cunningham, $251,555
32. (32) Simona de Silvestro, $303,430
33. (33) Jean Alesi, $251,555

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An Indy 500 Rookie's Impressions: There's A Lot To Be Said For Tradition

Few things stay the same in our ever-changing lives, which is why traditions might just be underrated.

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PHOTO: Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan Share A Moment At Indy

This was taken before Sunday's Indy 500, but it might be the most poignant photo of the day. It was the calm before the storm, two drivers awaiting the race. It also happened to include the winner, Dario Franchitti, and the third-place finisher, Tony Kanaan.

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There are the personalities -- Franchitti leaned back in a chair, cool as can be; Kanaan happily seated on the floor, sipping from a water bottle.

Then there's the glasses and the connection between the two. Both were close friends of Dan Wheldon, who passed away following a crash in Las Vegas last year. He was known for his signature white shades -- sunglasses that were prevalent at Indy on Sunday.

Later, they would battle for the lead, with Franchitti getting the best of Kanaan, a crowd favorite who roared to the front of the field late in the race.

But hours earlier, the two relaxed, perhaps remembering Wheldon as they sat quietly..

(Via Nick Laham/Getty Images)

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The Indy 500 Is The Best Thing Ever

So, Sunday's Indy 500 was won by Dario Franchitti. But who really cares about that? Not the roughly 200,000 people who attended the race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

People took photos of people at Sunday's race, and, well, they're pretty fantastic:

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Yup.

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I'm pretty sure blue is not a natural beard color, and pink/yellow/green/red/purple are not real hair colors.

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I didn't know Mega Jenga was a thing, but I really want somebody to invite me to play Mega Jenga (and or be an engineer capable of building a Mega Jenga set)

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This photo is everything right with America. 1. American Flag tube top. 2. Checkered flag skirt. 3. Beer pong. 4. Slightly blurred out Coors Light can.

So, Indy wins. That said, I'm very glad I wasn't at a major sporting event Sunday, because pictures were taken of me and I'm really glad nobody posted them on a sports website and that they will generally disappear.

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Indy 500 2012: Dario Franchitti Says He Was Innocent In Takuma Sato Crash

Dario Franchitti won the 2012 Indianapolis 500 on Sunday afternoon and will head home with both his third Indy 500 trophy and a clear conscience.

Franchitti insisted he did not squeeze down on Takuma Sato in their last-lap incident, though the Japanese racer felt differently.

"Takuma, I guess, just lost the rear," Franchitti said. "I watched the replay on the TV there, and he just lost the rear on the way in (to the corner). I felt the hit and the car go sideways, but I kept my foot in it, and that was it."

Franchitti was leading at the white flag when Sato got a run on the No. 50 car and had position on the inside lane with the corner quickly approaching.

"I heard my spotter say, 'He's got a run on you, he's coming up, he's starting to look on the inside,' and I started moving over," Franchitti said. "I was moving over, and then I looked in the mirror and saw exactly where he was, and I started moving back.

"We're allowed to come over to the wall and leave the car behind you a car width and an inch, and I wanted to make sure I left more than that."

The Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver said he took a "deep gulp" in the car, because he figured he'd have to go through Turn 1 wide-open on the outside lane and get dangerously close to the slippery marbles up top.

But Sato, he said, spun around by himself.

"Up until that point, I thought he made a good move," Franchitti said. "I wasn't very happy about it, but I didn't touch him, I didn't squeeze him down. He just lost the rear of the car."

Franchitti said Sato is a "very aggressive" driver and likely figured that was his one chance to win.

"You know, why not?" he said. "I think he did everything right up until he lost the rear end of the car, you know what I mean? That was the problem. I guess the car was too oversteery, and he lost the rear."

Sato, for the record, had a very different version of the story. You can read Sato's side of what happened here.

Here is video of the Sato crash. He finished in 17th after the wreck:


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VIDEO: Dario Franchitti Remembers Dan Wheldon After Winning Indy 500

There was Indy 500 2012 winner Dario Franchitti donning white sunglasses in the winner's circle on Sunday. The look was an homage to his close friend Dan Wheldon, last year's Indianapolis 500 winner, who was killed in an October crash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Wheldon was on everyone's mind on Sunday, and Franchitti couldn't leave him out of his post-race interview.

"I want to thank all the fans for saluting our Dan today," Franchitti said. "What a race."


Jeff Gluck: Dan Wheldon's Memory Looms Over 2012 Indy 500


Here's the video:


Wheldon's memory was inescapable at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His face was printed on tickets for the race, and fans in attendance were given white cardboard sunglasses which were all worn on the 98th lap, matching Wheldon's number.

Catch up on the best video highlights, crashes and notes from the race with our Indy 500 2012 StoryStream. For more on Indy racing, including the 2012 Indianapolis 500, please visit Pop Off Valve.

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Indy 500 2012: Takuma Sato Says Race Winner Dario Franchitti Crowded Him

Takuma Sato walked out of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway infield medical center wearing a sponsor’s hat that seemed to have an appropriate slogan written on the bill: “No attack, no chance.”

But after the Japanese driver made a gutsy attempt to pass Dario Franchitti on the last lap of Sunday’s Indy 500, Sato didn’t believe the message rang true.

Why? Because in his view, there was nothing risky about the move.

“Coming up to second (place) from the back of the field, that was ‘No attack, no chance,’” he said. “But on the last move? That wasn’t necessarily ‘No attack, no chance’ because, I was (inside of Franchitti) already before we turned in (to Turn 1).”

Sato contended Franchitti crowded him down below the white line, which gave the Rahal Letterman Racing driver nowhere to go.

“He didn’t seem to be giving me enough space,” Sato said. “I was well below the white line. I just couldn’t make it. … I was boxed in. I couldn’t come up. I was hoping we’d come out nicely, but we couldn’t do it.”

An ex-Formula One driver making his third Indy 500 start, Sato led 31 laps and seemed poised to pull off a surprising result in a race few had labeled him as a contender.

On the final restart, Sato was in seventh place but quickly sliced his way up through traffic to second. His pass of Franchitti’s teammate Scott Dixon was a particularly bold move.

Ultimately, though, he may have made his attempt at a winning pass too soon.

“He was so close to pulling that off,” Dixon said afterward. “If he maybe moved up on Dario a little bit more, it could have worked. … I don’t know why he didn’t wait a little longer. I really don’t.”

Sato said he decided to go for the pass in Turn 1 because he had gotten a “tow” (or draft) from Franchitti’s car and had the speed and positioning to do it. Waiting longer, he said, may not have played in his favor.

“I don’t think there was any other chance after that,” he said. “There’s not a great spot to overtake in Turn 3, because of the wind direction today.”

Race director Beaux Barfield told the drivers in a private meeting on Friday they would be required to leave a one-car-wide space on the inside lane while going into a turn.

Sato didn’t feel Franchitti did that, but said a penalty is “not a decision I do.”

“It’s reliant to Dario in the end,” he said. "I was in. (If) he moved up a little more to give me a one-car space on the inside, then we would have made it two cars coming into Turn 2.

“It’s just disappointing, because that was the race. I tried not to hit him, so we didn’t make any contact. We were down below the white line.”

Said Dixon, the Franchitti teammate: “It was brave, but I think Dario gave him room.”

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2012 Indy 500 Results And Finishing Order: Dario Franchitti Edges Teammate Scott Dixon For 3rd Win

After more than three hours of racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Dario Franchitti is your winner of the 96th Indianapolis 500. Franchitti overtook teammate Scott Dixon in a wild final five laps. He held off Takuma Sato to cross the line for his third Indy 500 win.

The Andretti drought continued on Sunday when Marco Andretti crashed with just 11 laps remaining. Andretti went across the track and crashed into the wall after losing control The Andretti family has not won the Indy 500 since 1969, when Mario clinched it. Marco's crash forced the seventh caution of the race which lasted until there were seven laps to go.



Franchitti then overtook Tony Kanaan with the resumption of green-flag racing at the seven lap mark. Franchitti and teammate Scott Dixon exchanged the lead over the final five laps, with Dixon relinquishing second place to Takuma Sato with two laps to go. Sato was too eager and tried to pass Franchitti on the inside but got too low and spun out across the track, forcing a yellow flag. With the caution up, Franchitti cruised across for his third Indy 500 win.

Franchitti came all the way from last place at the first stop for the remarkable win. A Chip Gannasi car placed second as well, as Dixon passed Sato to finish behind his teammate. It's the seventh time an owner has finished 1-2 at the Indy 500. The full 2012 Indy 500 order of finish:

1. Dario Franchitti
2. Scott Dixon
3. Tony Kanaan
4. Oriol Servia
5. Ryan Briscoe
6. James Hinchcliffe
7. Justin Wilson
8. Charlie Kimball
9. Townsend Bell
10. Helio Castroneves
11. Rubens Barrichello
12. Alex Tagliani
13. Graham Rahal
14. JR Hildebrand
15. James Jakes
16. Simon Pagenaud
17. Takuma Sato
18. E.J. Viso
19. Michel Jourdain Jr.
20. Sebastien Bourdais
21. Ed Carpenter
22. Katherine Legge
23. Ana Beatriz
24. Marco Andretti
25. Josef Newgarden
26. Sebastian Saavedra
27. Ryan Hunter-Reay
28. Will Power
29. Mike Conway
30. Bryan Clauson
31. Wade Cunningham
32. Simona De Silvestro
33. Jean Alesi

For more updates on the Indy 500, stay tuned to this StoryStream. For more on Indy racing, including the 2012 Indianapolis 500, please visit Pop Off Valve.

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Indy 500 2012 Finish And Video: Dario Franchitti Wins, Takuma Sato Crashes

Dario Franchitti won his third Indianapolis 500 under caution on Sunday. The 2012 Indy 500 finish provided wild video with Takuma Sato — running right with Franchitti — wrecking at the end in an attempt to pass for the lead. It was a terrific end to a wild day of racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

How crazy was this race? With 20 laps left, the field had already broken the record for most lead changes in 96 years of Indianapolis 500 history.

The last of seven cautions came late after Marco Andretti crashed on Turn 1. But it went green back to green flag racing with six laps left just in time for a sprint to the finish.


Indy 500 Highlights | Will Power, Mike Conway Crash | Follow @jeff_gluck

Here's video of the Indy 500 finish:


Here is video of the Sato crash. He finished in 17th after the wreck.


Catch up on the best video highlights, crashes and notes from the race with our Indy 500 2012 StoryStream. For more on Indy racing, including the 2012 Indianapolis 500, please visit Pop Off Valve.

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Indy 500 2012 Update: Japanese Driver Takuma Sato Leads With 55 Laps To Go

An unlikely and surprising story is developing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway today, where Japan's Takuma Sato is leading the Indy 500 with just 55 laps remaining.

Three-quarters of the way through the 500-mile race, Sato is stunning the field by running up front for lap after lap. Three-time defending IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti is second, followed by Scott Dixon.

Sato, who used to race in Formula One, is in his third season racing IndyCars but has just one podium finish in 38 starts.

IndyCar called for a caution in the middle of green-flag pit stops because Sebastian Saavedra stalled on the exit of pit lane with 55 laps to go.

Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay experienced a mechanical failure on his car – something broke in the rear end – and he was forced to retire from the race.

Ex-Formula One star Rubens Barrichello also led a couple laps in his first Indy 500, but is now 16th.

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Indy 500 2012: Will Power, Mike Conway Involved In Scary Crash

Airborne cars are something no one ever wants to see, but it was especially scary to see the replay of Mike Conway getting launched by Will Power in a lap 82 crash at the 2012 Indy 500 today.

Conway had spun around and hit the wall, which then collected Power. But Power's car catapulted Conway into the air, and the No. 14 car rode the wall – with the driver's head dangerously close to the fence – until it eventually dropped back onto the track.

Neither driver was hurt, but it was frightening considering this is the IZOD IndyCar Series' first oval race since Dan Wheldon – last year's Indy 500 champion – was killed in an October crash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Another scary part of the crash was when a tire bounded down the track and barely missed the head of Helio Castroneves.

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Everyone here is breathing a sigh of relief for now, but the race isn't even halfway finished yet.

How did this all start? Well, Conway somehow came into the pits too close to the wall and took out two of his crew members.

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After the race goes green, Marco Andretti – who has led most of the race – will be the leader, followed by Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti.

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Indy 500 2012 Update: Marco Andretti Leads After Green-Flag Pit Stops

Marco Andretti, who agreed with the IZOD IndyCar Series drivers who said he was the 2012 Indianapolis 500 favorite, is leading at Indy after the first 55 laps.

The first quarter of the 96th Indy 500 had just one caution flag – a spin for Bryan Clauson, who kept it off the wall and did not damage his car – but the biggest story so far was the black flag for the two Lotus-powered cars.

Lotuses driven by Simona De Silvestro and Jean Alesi were slow all month at Indy – the team got a late start – and race director Beaux Barfield had little tolerance for their turtle-like speeds at the start of the race.

After just 10 laps, De Silvestro and Alesi were both given a black flag and parked for the remainder of the race.

In a separate development, Dario Franchitti spun on pit road during the first caution after he was hit from behind by E.J. Viso.

As of lap 55, Andretti leads Scott Dixon, James Hinchcliffe, pole-sitter Ryan Briscoe and the surprising Takuma Sato.

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Watch The 2012 Indy 500 Grandstands Fill Up On Race Day

I'm going to try and post a photo about once every hour this morning from Indianapolis Motor Speedway so you can get an idea of what it's like to see the grandstands go from zero to 250,000 before lunchtime.

Keep checking back here and I'll keep updating this when I can up until the start of the Indy 500.

6:30 a.m.

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7:40 a.m.

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8:35 a.m.

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10 a.m.

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Lap 1

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Note: These are all taken from the exact same spot in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway media center. The media center at Indy is not the famed pagoda, but is actually a long, four-story building built when the track was hosting Formula One races last decade.

The video board you can see in the pictures is showing clips and interviews from past races, giving fans a sense of history and perspective as they sit and wait for the 96th running of the Indy 500. It's pretty crazy to think about all the history that's happened here.

Also, SB Nation Studios just posted a REALLY COOL video for Indy 500 Race Day. This will get you fired up!

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Danica Patrick Not Racing The Indy 500 This Year, And Drivers Aren't Sad About It

If you don't pay close attention to the motorsports world, you may not have heard that Danica Patrick is no longer an IZOD IndyCar Series driver and thus will not be racing in today's Indianapolis 500.

And the IndyCar drivers that the Go Daddy Girl left behind aren't exactly bummed she's gone.

"The race lived for what, 80 or 90 years before she showed up?" driver Graham Rahal said. "It's going to live without her."

Patrick, who is more famous nationally for her commercials than her on-track performance, moved from the open-wheel IndyCars to the stock cars of NASCAR (which has a bigger fan base, pays more money and is safer) and made a full-time commitment there.

At Charlotte, where Patrick is racing in tonight's Coca-Cola 600, she compared her departure from IndyCar to a breakup and said she's not longing for Indianapolis.

"It's like that girlfriend you didn't want to have anymore – you don't think about her anymore," she said. "Or ex-husband. You just don't."

In Indianapolis, drivers indicated the feeling seemed mutual. Though they largely avoided talking about Patrick, some seemed relieved she was gone. After all, she took much of the attention despite not producing many results.

"It's a great thing, because No. 1, we can just get back to racing, and No. 2, you've got so many other guys in here that deserve a chance," Rahal said. "They have a story or have a personality, and if she were here, you probably wouldn't be talking to them too much."

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After wrecking during qualifying, rookie Bryan Clauson and his team had just 24 hours to complete massive repairs and qualify on Bump day. Watch their impressive story:

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2012 Indy 500 Lineup: Ryan Briscoe The Odds-On Favorite In Pole Position

The 2012 Indy 500 lineup is set for Sunday's race. Ryan Briscoe, who won the pole during last week's qualifying, is the odds-on favorite to win at 15-4, edging out Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves (11-2) and Will Power (6-1).

Andretti Autosports owns three of the next five spots on the odds list with James Hinchcliffe (17-2), Marco Andretti (10-1) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (12-1). Hinchcliffe and Hunter-Reay will both start with Briscoe in the first row of drivers. Andretti, Power and Castroneves make up the second row.

Chip Ganassi Racing's Dario Franchitti, starting 16th, rounds out the top five on the odds list at 9-1. Josef Newgarden, starting seventh, is one of the few favored drivers driving a Toyota engine. He was given the 10th-best odds at 20-1. You can check out the full list of odds here.

Here's the starting lineup for Sunday's Indianapolis 500:

  1. Ryan Briscoe
  2. James Hinchcliffe
  3. Ryan Hunter-Reay
  4. Marco Andretti
  5. Will Power
  6. Helio Castroneves
  7. Josef Newgarden
  8. Tony Kanaan
  9. EJ Viso
  10. Rubens Barrichello
  11. Alex Tagliani
  12. Graham Rahal
  13. Ana Beatriz
  14. Charlie Kimball
  15. Scott Dixon
  16. Dario Franchitti
  17. James Jakes
  18. J.R. Hildebrand
  19. Takuma Sato
  20. Townsend Bell
  21. Justin Wilson
  22. Michel Jourdain
  23. Simon Pagenaud
  24. Sebastian Saavedra
  25. Sebastien Bourdais
  26. Wade Cunningham
  27. Oriol Servia
  28. Ed Carpenter
  29. Mike Conway
  30. Katherine Legge
  31. Bryan Clauson
  32. Simona De Silvestro
  33. Jean Alesi

For more updates on the Indy 500, stay tuned to this StoryStream. For more on Indy racing, including the 2012 Indianapolis 500, please visit Pop Off Valve.

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Indy 500 Live Streaming 2012: Watch Race And Onboard Cameras Online

While hundreds of thousands will watch the 2012 Indianapolis 500 live from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, you don't have to be at the track in order to watch the race. In fact, you won't even need a television to watch. The 2012 Indy 500 will be available via a live stream.



The race, which begins at noon ET, can be watched thanks to additional coverage via ESPN 3, which will feature onboard cameras for 12 drivers.

In addition to pole-sitter Ryan Briscoe, ESPN 3 will also have live onboard cameras for James Hinchcliffe, Charlie Kimball, J.R. Hildebrand, Tony Kanaan, Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, Rubens Barrichello, Dario Franchitti, Graham Rahal and Helio Castroneves. Access to ESPN 3 is available to most with a high-speed Internet connection.

If you're looking for Twitter updates, make sure to follow our own @jeff_gluck, who is live at the Brickyard for the race.

For more updates on the Indy 500, stay tuned to this StoryStream. For more on Indy racing, including the 2012 Indianapolis 500, please visit Pop Off Valve.

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After wrecking during qualifying, rookie Bryan Clauson and his team had just 24 hours to complete massive repairs and qualify on Bump day. Watch their impressive story:

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2012 Indy 500 Video: Bryan Clauson's Journey To The Starting Grid

The story of Bryan Clauson's Indy 500 journey, from his crash on Pole Day to a long night of work spent rebuilding the car, getting him into the field.

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Indy 500 2012: Start Time, TV Schedule, Live Updates And More

It's race day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with the 2012 Indy 500 set to begin. Ryan Briscoe will start on the pole, joined by James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay on the first row.

In all, nine of the first 10 spots on the grid are occupied by drivers running with Chevrolet engines. Team Penske and Andretti Autosport are well represented on the first two rows. Briscoe leads the way for Team Penske with teammates Will Power and Helio Castroneves starting in row two. Hinchcliffe and Hunter-Reay represent Andretti Autosport on the first row, while Marco Andrettti starts on the inside of row two.

The field includes three former Indy 500 winners. In addition to three-time champion Castroneves, 2008 winner Scott Dixon will start on row five while two-time winner Dario Franchitti will start on row six.


More on the technology being used to broadcast the Indy 500 this year.


The 2012 Indy 500 is set to begin shortly after noon ET on ABC. Cars will roll off the grid for pace laps at 12:04 p.m., followed by the green flag at 12:12 p.m.

For more updates on the Indy 500, stay tuned to this StoryStream. For more on Indy racing, including the 2012 Indianapolis 500, please visit Pop Off Valve.

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2012 Indy 500 Detailed Schedule, Actual Start Time For Today's Race

With the traditional boom of a cannon, the public gates opened here at Indianapolis Motor Speedway about one hour ago, and the sun is now coming up over the track.

I came across a very detailed copy of the Indy 500 Race Day schedule and start time for today, so I thought I'd share it in case any of you were interested.

All times are Eastern in the list below:

5:33 a.m. – Public gates opened

8:30 a.m. – Spectacle of Bands begins

9:30 a.m. – Cars enter pit lane, celebrities walk red carpet

10:15 a.m. – Purdue University Band plays "On the Banks of the Wabash."

10:40 a.m. – Cars are placed on the starting grid

11 a.m. – Vintage cars take a parade lap

11:10 a.m. – Military vehicles take a parade lap

11:33 a.m. – Driver introductions

11:41 a.m. – Military march on the front straightaway

11:47 a.m. – Purdue University Band plays "America the Beautiful"

11:48 a.m. – U.S. Navy Admiral James A. Winnefeld Jr. speaks to the crowd

11:51 a.m. – Florence Henderson sings "God Bless America"

11:55 a.m. – Martina McBride sings the national anthem

11:57 a.m. – Military flyover

11:58 a.m. – "Drivers To Your Cars" command is given

11:59 a.m. – Invocation

12:05 p.m. – "Taps" is played; rifle volley fired

12:06 p.m. – Jim Nabors sings "Back Home Again In Indiana" via video recording (he's having heart surgery this weekend and can't attend)

12:07 p.m. – IMS Chairman Mari Hulman George gives the "Start Your Engines" command

12:09 p.m. – Bryan Herta drives Dan Wheldon's winning car from last year around the track for a parade lap

12:13 p.m. – Drivers take pace laps

12:15 p.m. – Green flag for the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500

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2012 Indianapolis 500 Darkhorse Pick: Rookie Josef Newgarden

If Josef Newgarden can somehow win Sunday's Indianapolis 500, he has the personality to immediately become American open-wheel racing's next big star.

Newgarden, a confident and energetic 21-year-old who grew up in Nashville, won the Firestone Indy Lights Series last year (the equivalent of AAA baseball or the NASCAR Nationwide Series) and parlayed his success into a ride with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing in the big show.

Now a rookie preparing to make his first Indy 500 start, Newgarden is taking a veteran approach to the biggest race of his career.

"If you start letting it get to you, that's when things start going bad," Newgarden said Thursday. "It's a huge event. It's just so big. There are so many people and so many sponsors and so many family members and crew members and all that. If you start letting that get to you, it's tough to focus on what you need to do.

"So you've just got to focus like it's another race, you've got a job at hand and you go and execute."

Newgarden led several practice sessions in the week leading up to the Indy 500 and he was the top-qualifying Honda driver (seventh overall). So if you're looking for a darkhorse pick, Newgarden might not be a bad choice.

After all, the driver who seems to have the mannerisms and optimism of Dale Earnhardt Jr. crew chief Steve Letarte said he's positive he can block out the distractions and "try to not make it as big as it is."

But how?

"You just do it," he said. "You mentally tell yourself to do that, you know? There's no secret to it. I mean, maybe other guys have their routines or whatever. But what are you going to do, get a massage before the race?"

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Dan Wheldon's Memory Looms Over 2012 Indy 500

Dan Wheldon is literally smiling down on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

A massive banner showing a picture of the late driver hangs above the 16th Street entrance to the world's most famous speedway, reminding all who enter the Brickyard of a loss that remains heartbreaking to so many.

Wheldon's image adorns the tickets to Sunday's race. Every fan will be given white cardboard sunglasses – an homage to his style – upon entering the track. And Wheldon's 2011 Indy 500 car – the one he drove to Victory Circle in stunning fashion – will be taken for a solo lap on Sunday by former team owner Bryan Herta.

The affable Wheldon, who was killed in an October crash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, will be remembered fondly as a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner in pre-race ceremonies. But the months since his death have done little to soothe the pain of those close to him and the fans who adored him, and the emotions are still very raw.

"I got to the (drivers' motorhome) lot, and his bus was always two across from mine," four-time IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti said softly when speaking with reporters on Thursday. "And it was a different bus this year."

Franchitti is one of many drivers who have had Wheldon on their minds recently. They all have, really. From telling stories at dinner to seeing fans with "Lionheart" T-shirts everywhere they look, the drivers can feel Wheldon's presence all around the track.

The memories are happy, but will be tainted with deep sadness until more time has passed.

"Whether you had a good day or a bad day, it was those days when you'd be in the bus lot after (practice), all the drivers talking, and here would come Dan," Franchitti said. "(He'd be) bounding along, smiilng, giving everybody a hard time. He's definitely been in my thoughts a lot.

"He's never far away."

As difficult as the day may be for Wheldon's former colleagues and fans, it will be unimaginable for his family and close friends.

Susie Wheldon, his widow, has been at the track this weekend with the couple's two young children and has accepted several awards on his behalf. She received a two-minute standing ovation during the public drivers' meeting on Saturday.

"Dan loved the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and what it meant to win here," she said Thursday after receiving his championship ring. "I'm proud to be here to represent him as a two-time winner. I'm proud to be here with my children, Sebastian and Oliver, to celebrate their father's life and legacy and him as a great champion."

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2012 Indy 500 Weather Forecast: Record-Setting Heat

Record-setting heat is in store for the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.

The hottest Indianapolis 500 was back in 1937, with a temperature of 92 degrees. It's nearly a certainty that we will break that record this weekend.

Temperatures will reach the low to mid 90s, and when you factor in the humidity, the heat index will feel like the upper 90s to near 100. The National Weather Service in Indianapolis has issued a heat advisory for central Indiana for the entire weekend.

Indy_500_weather_forecast_medium

It is recommended to stay cool this weekend by drinking plenty of non-alcoholic or decaffeinated beverages. I know beer and other alcohol beverages are the drink of choice while enjoying the Indianapolis 500. If you are going to the race, it is recommended to alternate between alcohol – then lots of water – then back to alcohol.

Use sunscreen. Spend some time in air conditioning if possible. Slow down. Dress for summer. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing to reflect heat and sunlight.

As for how the heat could impact the race, with the track temperature potentially getting to near 140 degrees, this will allow for more rubber to get on to the track surface. This excess rubber will make the track slick and drivers will have to handle a loose race car.

Please follow me on Twitter @NASCAR_WXMAN and like me on Facebook for the latest weather updates through the weekend for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

Conditions in Indianapolis, IN:
Click here for Current Weather ConditionsLook at Doppler Radar | Mobile Friendly Site | Mobile Radar

SATURDAY:
12 p.m. EDT
Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade Downtown Indianapolis – Mostly sunny, Hot & Humid – temp: 89

SUNDAY - INDY 500 RACE DAY:
11 a.m. EDT
Indianapolis 500 Pre-Race Begins – Mostly sunny, Hot & Humid – temp: 87
12 p.m. EDT
96th Running of the Indianapolis 500 – Mostly sunny, Hot & Humid – temp: 90
1 p.m. EDT
Indianapolis 500 – Mostly sunny, Hot & Humid – temp: 91
3 p.m. EDT
Indianapolis 500 – Mostly sunny, Hot & Humid – temp: 94

For more on Indy racing including the 2012 Indianapolis 500, please visit Pop Off Valve.

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Indy 500 Traditions, From Milk To The Snake Pit

A look at some of the traditions that make the Indy 500 special, from the milk the winners swig to The Snake Pit.

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2012 Indy 500: All You Can Hear Is The Cheering

Sure, you have to deal with the travel, the heat, the humidity and the crowds, but once you've experienced the Indy 500 in person, you realize why it's called the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

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Indy 500 Carb Day Results 2012: Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon Lead Final Practice

What did Friday's 2012 Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway teach us? Well, probably not much. As the fastest driver, Dario Franchitti, put it: "It's only practice, isn't it?"

But perhaps the Honda-powered cars showed one thing: They might not be so far off after all.

Franchitti and Scott Dixon – who both run Target Chip Ganassi Racing Hondas – led the Indy 500's final practice on Friday afternoon and momentarily alleviated concerns that the team was in for a bad race on Sunday.

On the other hand, it's unclear how much the Chevy-powered cars really showed. After sweeping the top six spots in qualifying, it seemed the Chevrolet teams – namely Penske Racing and Andretti Autosport – would poised dominate this year's 500.

All along, though, Franchitti and team owner Chip Ganassi insisted they were going to be "OK" in race trim. Judging by Friday's hour-long practice, it appears they may have been right.

"We'll find out on Sunday, but it definitely feels a little bit stronger," Franchitti said. "So hopefully that will give us more of an equal fight, because obviously in qualifying it was a bit one-sided."

So what does Friday's practice really mean for Race Day? It's hard to say.

"The goal this session isn't to be the quickest," said Marco Andretti, who was third-fastest. "It's just to get the car beneath you."

Here are the results from Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

  1. Dario Franchitti (Honda)
  2. Scott Dixon (Honda)
  3. Marco Andretti (Chevrolet)
  4. Takuma Sato (Honda)
  5. Ryan Briscoe (Chevrolet)
  6. Justin Wilson (Honda)
  7. Will Power (Chevrolet)
  8. James Hinchcliffe (Chevrolet)
  9. Tony Kanaan (Chevrolet)
  10. Ryan Hunter-Reay (Chevrolet)
  11. Helio Castroneves (Chevrolet)
  12. J.R. Hildebrand (Chevrolet)
  13. Josef Newgarden (Honda)
  14. Charlie Kimball (Honda)
  15. Graham Rahal (Honda)
  16. Alex Tagliani (Honda)
  17. Rubens Barrichello (Chevrolet)
  18. Oriol Servia (Chevrolet)
  19. Mike Conway (Honda)
  20. Ed Carpenter (Chevrolet)
  21. Sebastian Saavedra (Chevrolet)
  22. EJ Viso (Chevrolet)
  23. Simon Pagenaud (Honda)
  24. Bryan Clauson (Honda)
  25. Sebastien Bourdais (Chevrolet)
  26. Katherine Legge (Chevrolet)
  27. Wade Cunningham (Honda)
  28. Michel Jourdain (Honda)
  29. Townsend Bell (Honda)
  30. James Jakes (Honda)
  31. Simona de Silvestro (Lotus)
  32. Jean Alesi (Lotus)
Note: Ana Beatriz did not practice.

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Indy 500 2012: J.R. Hildebrand Still Fielding Advice From Fans

J.R. Hildebrand was one mistake-free corner away from winning the Indianapolis 500 last year. That's it. One turn.

In the year since, he's fielded countless questions about his collision with the Turn 4 wall and what was a life-changing miscalculation.

Fans who approach Hildebrand to talk about last year's race often express their sympathy, but some go so far as to give him this advice: Look out for the wall in Turn 4.

"The stuff that people will come up and say to you is sort of unbelievable sometimes," Hildebrand said with a laugh. "It's like, 'OK, really? How many more times does somebody have to tell me to watch out for the Turn 4 wall?'"

Hildebrand said some of the fans who tell him to be careful in Turn 4 aren't joking, but giving sincere advice.

"You almost feel bad, because they think they're doing you a favor!" Hildebrand said, laughing again. "It's like, 'Oh, well maybe if he had just been watching out for it a little bit more...' It's like, 'Really?'"

The good-natured driver said none of the questions or comments bother him, though, because "it's just all part of the deal."

"I don't get bent out of shape about it," he said.

Hildebrand, as you can probably tell, appears to be a relentlessly positive individual. For example: When talking about the reconstructive knee surgery he had in the offseason, Hildebrand called it "nice to have something else to focus my time on."

From the moments after he wrecked until Thursday's Indy 500 Media Day, Hildebrand has been level-headed and practical about how he views the crash.

He won't let himself look at last year's Indy 500 as "the one that got away," he said, because it was his first try.

"Given the circumstances, I don't really regret the decision I made to try and go for the pass," he said. "It just didn't really work. In a more general sense, the fact we were in that position by just doing what we were doing – making the right calls, basically – gives us all the confidence we can do it again."

That consistency in his approach to answering questions has actually made it much easier on him throughout the last year, he said. Instead of making excuses or blaming someone else, Hildebrand has owned up to making the wrong decision the entire time.

"I made no bones about what happened and how things went down in my mind when it happened," he said. "So that's made it fairly easy to answer questions about it, because I haven't really had to backpedal or say, 'Oh, I was just pissed off about it at the time and here's what really happened.' I just kind of explained it for what it was. I've sort of been able to stick with that."

Still, despite how well he's handled the aftermath, Hildebrand said he's looking forward to getting through Turn 4 cleanly this year on lap 200 – regardless of where he's running in the race.

That way, he said, "we can kind of turn the page and start moving forward."

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Indy 500 2012: Graham Rahal, Marco Andretti Carry On Families' Longstanding Rivalry

When Graham Rahal was a kid, he noticed a picture of Michael Andretti on the wall of the family's fitness room. It was an odd sight, considering Rahal's father, Bobby, was one of Andretti's biggest rivals.

As it turned out, the picture had a purpose: Bobby Rahal, a three-time IndyCar champ, would stare at Andretti's image to get motivated during workouts.

Now that the rivalry between fathers has been passed onto the sons – Graham and Marco Andretti – Rahal doesn't think anyone should be surprised.

"That's the way it's always been," Graham Rahal said Thursday on Indy 500 Media Day. "And people now are like, 'Oh my God, they don't like each other!' It's like, 'What's the big deal?'"

Even while coming up the open-wheel ladder in the Star Mazda Series, Rahal said his team's goal was to be faster than Andretti in every single practice session.

Why?

"He's an Andretti," Rahal said matter-of-factly.

The Rahal/Andretti rivalry added a new chapter last month, when the drivers were involved in an incident at Long Beach.

When it appeared Andretti may have had position to make a pass on Rahal, the two collided and the contact briefly sent Andretti airborne.

Andretti insisted Rahal came down into his racing line to block; Rahal said Andretti initiated the incident (though Rahal got a six-race probation penalty).

"What's Marco's last name?" Rahal told the Associated Press at the time. "I've said enough."

The two haven't made much progress in figuring out who was at fault in the weeks since.

"I still don't agree with him on the whole Long Beach incident, nor do about 80 percent of the people I've talked to," Rahal said Thursday, sitting in a Media Day booth adjacent to Andretti's. "But it doesn't matter."

"I'll be stuck in my ways til the day I die on that one," Andretti said. "Was there a little respect lost because he didn't own up to it? A little bit, yeah. But we still have that mutual respect."

"He's still all worked up about it," Rahal said. "To me, I don't even care anymore. Like forget it."

Their relationship has an interesting dynamic. Is it possible for two people to have a mutual dislike for one another but share a mutual respect?

Last week, IndyCar sent Andretti and Rahal on a trip to New York to promote Sunday's 96th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Given their history, an outsider might think the interactions on the trip would be awkward.

"Awkward? No," Andretti said. "We mostly talked about business in the car and around the car. That's it."

Said Rahal: "It's not awkward. Look, he's never been a guy that I call to go to dinner with. When we're sitting there, do we carry on a great conversation? No. What am I going to say?"

"I know (a feud is) what people want," Andretti said. "There's still a mutual respect."

Whether the drivers respect one another or not, though, it doesn't mean they're rooting for each other in Sunday's Indy 500.

"I don't want to see Marco win," Rahal said.

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Awful Advice: All You Need To Know About The Indy 500

The Indianapolis 500 is among the most fast-paced spectacles in sports. Did you know that Indy cars are capable of reaching speeds up to 50 mph? Here's a beginner's guide to the Indy 500 that you should not believe because none of it is true.

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Indianapolis 500 Traditions: The History Of The Race And Its Quirks

The Indianapolis 500 is a unique event steeped in tradition. How those traditions came about may surprise you.

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James Hinchcliffe Interview: 2012 Indy 500 Front-Row Starter Talks Heroes, Mistaken Identity

The Mayor of Hinchtown discusses Dilly Bars, "Family Guy" and fighter jets in a special IndyCar edition of the '12 Questions.'

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Indy 500 2012: Ryan Briscoe Knows More Work Lies Ahead After Pole Win

There's no pole position in the IZOD IndyCar Series – and perhaps the world – more prestigious than the pole for the Indianapolis 500.

Ryan Briscoe knows this and celebrates this. The winner of this year's Indy 500 pole takes a great degree of pride in being the fastest car over four laps on Saturday's Pole Day, which earned him the top spot in qualifying.

But Briscoe also knows it doesn't mean all that much when it comes to Sunday's 500.

"Winning the pole at Indy, I feel, means more than just the starting in the first position for the race," Briscoe said Monday during a media visit to Charlotte. "It's an achievement we're all very proud of, but it doesn't mean anything other than having won the pole."

Therein lies the dual nature of the Indy 500 pole: It's both awesome and meaningless at the same time.

Teams put days of work toward qualifying alone, and the prestige, pride and media attention that comes with being the pole winner is a tremendous boost.

And as team owner Roger Penske and four-time Indy 500 winner Rick Mears have told Briscoe: "There are two races at the Indy 500 – the first race is Pole Day and the second race is Race Day."

"Obviously Race Day means a whole lot more, but Pole Day is treated as its own event," Briscoe said.

On the other hand, all of that ends on Sunday when the green flag drops. Briscoe said with the new IndyCar chassis, it's actually easier to pass because "it feels like you can draft up a lot."

"You don't have to start on the front row to win the Indy 500," he said. "It's a long race – especially with this new car, there's going to be a lot of passing. ... And almost starting on the pole could be a disadvantage, because you're going to be a sitting duck right away."

So it's Mission: Accomplished for one of the two events. Now all Briscoe has to do is win the big one.

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Indy 500 2012: Drivers Spread Out Across Country To Promote Race

The IZOD IndyCar Series sent all 33 of its Indy 500 drivers across the country today on a massive media tour to spread the word about Sunday's race.

Here's a look at which drivers ended up where:

Birmingham, Ala. – Scott Dixon, Will Power, Charlie Kimball

Charlotte – Ryan Briscoe

Cincinnati – Tony Kanaan, Ed Carpenter, Townsend Bell, Justin Wilson

Columbus, Ohio – Takuma Sato, team owner Bobby Rahal

Dallas – James Hinchcliffe

Dayton, Ohio – Wade Cunningham, Mike Conway

Detroit – Rubens Barrichello, Oriol Servia, Katherine Legge

Lexington, Ky. – James Jakes

Louisville, Ky. – Simona De Silvestro

Los Angeles – Michel Jourdain

Mexico City (tomorrow) – Michel Jourdain

Miami – Helio Castroneves, Sebastian Saavedra, Ana Beatriz, E.J. Viso

Milwaukee – Josef Newgarden, Bryan Clauson, Ryan Hunter-Reay

New York – Marco Andretti, J.R. Hildebrand, Graham Rahal

Tampa – Sebastien Bourdais

Toronto – Alex Tagliani, Simon Pagenaud, Jean Alesi

Washington, D.C. – Dario Franchitti

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Indy 500 2012: Dan Wheldon Tributes Announced

The late Dan Wheldon will be honored at the 2012 Indy 500 in several different ways next weekend in what Indianapolis Motor Speedway hopes will be a fitting tribute for the two-time 500 winner.

Wheldon, who scored a dramatic Indy 500 victory just last year, was killed in the October IZOD IndyCar Series season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The tribute began today with Wheldon's winning No. 98 car being placed in the IMS Hall of Fame Museum – which sits in the track's infield – until Sunday. Fans can also see the car on Saturday, May 26 in the plaza area beneath the famous IMS pagoda.

But that's not all the track is doing with the car. Bryan Herta, who fielded the car for Wheldon last year, will drive it around the track for a "lap of honor" before the command to fire engines on Indianapolis 500 race day.

Here's perhaps the coolest part of the tribute: Every fan entering the track will be given white cardboard sunglasses (Wheldon often wore white sunglasses) and will be asked to wear them on the parade lap as well as laps 26 and 98 – which symbolize the numbers of his winning cars.

Wheldon's widow, Susie, will attend the public drivers' meeting on May 26 and will also receive Wheldon's championship ring when he arrives in town. This will be Susie Wheldon's first visit to a racetrack since her husband's death.

The driver's image is on the Indy 500 ticket and will be on the race day technical inspection sticker for each car as well.

"Dan embodied the spirit of the Indianapolis 500 and Indianapolis Motor Speedway like few who have ever raced here," track CEO Jeff Belskus said. "He loved this race and this special place so much, and his fans and everyone associated with 'The Greatest Spectacle in Racing' returned that affection with equal passion.

"We're honored to pay tribute to Dan – an incredible father, husband, friend and driver – through these activities this year. But rest assured, he will be remembered forever at IMS."

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2012 Indy 500: Schedule For Practice, Qualifying

The 96th running of the Indianapolis 500 is just under two weeks away, but the field for the race will be set this week. Two days of practice have already taken place and the teams will have three more days to get their cars running in top shape before qualifying. Practice runs every day through Thursday.

Friday is Fast Friday, the precursor to pole day. Unlike the previous days of practice, the driver with the fastest lap time on Fast Friday will earn a cash prize. On Saturday, the drivers compete for the pole position, leading into Sunday's Bump Day. By the time the clock runs out on Bump Day, the 33-car field will be set for the 2012 Indy 500, which takes place on May 27.

You can find a complete schedule of events and over information on the race at the official website of the Indy 500.

For more on Indy racing including the 2012 Indianapolis 500, please visit Pop Off Valve.

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Danica Patrick Won't Race Indianapolis 500 In 2012

Danica Patrick's 10-race NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule for this season will include the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day Weekend.

That means for the first time since Patrick came into the national spotlight, the Indianapolis 500 won't include the GoDaddy Girl.

Patrick said Monday on the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour she will not be a part of the Indy 500 this year and won't attempt the "double" (racing 1,100 miles at Indy and Charlotte on the same day).

"I hope to do the Indy 500 in the future – maybe even a double," she said. "... It was something on the business side that just didn't work out."

Patrick is running a full schedule in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this year, but also has 10 Sprint Cup races. She will make her Cup debut in next month's Daytona 500.

Her complete Sprint Cup schedule has yet to be announced, but it includes some of the circuit's toughest tracks – at the request of Stewart-Haas Racing team owner Tony Stewart – in order to prepare for running all 36 races in 2013.

Patrick's 10-race Cup schedule also includes Darlington and the Bristol night race.

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