Dan Wheldon has won the 2011 Indy 500, and he has done it in dramatic fashion. Wheldon sped by JR Hildebrand, who led most of the final five laps but crashed on Turn 4 of Lap 200, down the backstretch, to take the checkered flag in the 96th Indy 500.
After fuel-conservation strategies from Danica Patrick and Bertrand Baguette gave both drivers a chance to hold the lead late, Hildebrand, the fastest-qualified rookie this week, inherited the lead, and appeared well-positioned to take his car to Victory Lane. But Hildebrand came into Turn 4 too sharply, and slammed into the wall, damaging his right side severely enough for Wheldon to zip between Hildebrand and a lapped driver.
It's Wheldon's second Indianapolis 500 win, and a weird one: in the centennial running of one of America's greatest motorsports traditions, it's a Brit, in a car adorned with Ronald Reagan's presidential seal, who is drinking milk and kissing bricks, after leading the race for maybe a quarter-mile.
Surely, passing a wrecked competitor is not the way any driver wants to win an Indianapolis 500. But try convincing Wheldon and his team that it's any less satisfying.
For more on the race, stay with our 2011 Indy 500 StoryStream. Be sure to head over to Pop Off Valve for all things IndyCar, including the three excellent Indy 500 resources: The Indy 500 experience, Indy 500 traditions and the history of the Indy 500 and the Brickyard.