INDIANAPOLIS - Tony Kanaan, the sentimental favorite and RTV6 driver analyst for the month of May, won his first Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, ending a long stretch of frustrations for him in Indy.
Carlos Munoz, in his first IndyCar race, finished second, with Ryan Hunter-Reay in third, Marco Andretti in fourth and Justin Wilson coming in fifth.
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After downing the traditional bottle of milk, Kanaan fought back a torrent of emotion.
"I got a little bit of luck today," Kanaan said, holding back tears. "It's for the fans, for my dad that's not here, but mainly for all of you guys. I was looking at the stands and it was unbelievable."
A record number of leaders and lead changes highlighted the day, with the number of lead changes more than doubling the previous record of 34. The average speed was also a record -- 187.433 mph.
Kanaan, 38, won under a yellow flag after Dario Franchitti crashed with three laps to go. It marked a change of fortune for Kanaan, who has had a lot of bad luck at Indy in past years, finishing second in 2004 and in third twice.
"The last lap was the longest lap of my life," Kanaan said. "I wanted the pace car to hurry up so bad."
Graham Rahal hit the wall with seven laps to go, with Ryan Hunter-Reay out front under the fourth yellow flag of the day.
On the restart after the Rahal crash, Kanaan told his pit crew, "I'm going to go for it. It's going to be all or nothing."
Kanaan did just that, passing Hunter-Reay on the restart and was in the lead when the yellow flag came out after Franchitti's crash.
"This was the car to win," Hunter-Reay said. "I'm so disappointed right now."
Fellow Brazilian Helio Castroneves, who finished sixth, congratulated Kanaan.
"Tony, hell of a job, man," Castroneves said. "It was a tough one, and I could see that you fought as hard as you could. I'm happy for you."
Munoz was elated but disappointed with not winning.
"I should be happy right now, but I think I had a shot to win this thing," Munoz said. "I have nothing to be ashamed of. My team did a great job in the pits."
Andretti finished in the top five for the fourth time.
"Fourth is about as far back as we were all day, but … T.K., if there's anybody who deserves to win, it's him," Andretti said.
It was a frustrating day for three-time Indy 500 champion Dario Franchitti, who never was comfortable with his car. He finished 23rd after the late-race crash.
"I looked up and saw that T.K. was P1 (after my crash), and that cheered me up a little bit," Franchitti said.
Rookie A.J. Allmendinger led at the halfway point of the race, but a seat belt problem caused an unplanned pit stop that put him back in the pack and put him off sequence with the leaders.
Allmendinger moved steadily toward the front after having some car setup issues early in the race. He pitted at lap 113. By lap 138, he was in the lead again before having to pit under a green flag at lap 144. Allmendinger finished in seventh.
Kanaan sat in second place at the midway point, followed by Hunter-Reay, E.J. Viso and Andretti. Kanaan and Andretti went to the front when Allmendinger headed into the pits.
More green flag pit stops began at lap 121, shuffling the field again.
Polesitter Ed Carpenter, Kanaan and Andretti alternated the lead for much of the first quarter of the race.
Kanaan held the lead on lap 75, but he was passed by Will Power, who relinquished the lead by pitting at lap 90. Kanaan was back out front at the end of green flap pit stops in lap 94.
Carpenter was in front at lap 50. Andretti was second, with Hunter-Reay, Castroneves and Kanaan rounding out the top five at lap 50. Andretti passed Carpenter a few laps later.
Carpenter had fallen back to 10th by lap 88, and that's where he finished.
"We had the speed, but we got shuffled back a little too far," Carpenter said. "We were a little light on downforce and could never find our way back to the front."
Takuma Sato prompted the third caution of the day when he spun out on lap 58. He didn't hit the wall and continued on in the race, falling back to 25th position on lap 69.
Sebastian Saavedra spun into the wall on lap 36, bringing out the second caution of the day and taking him out of the race. Green flag racing started again with lap 43.
J.R. Hildebrand's car got loose and hit the wall just a couple of laps after the start of the race, prompting the first yellow flag and taking him out of the race right at the beginning.
Hildebrand lost control of his car right in front of James Hinchcliffe.
"I'm really disappointed. I think we had a car to run up front," Hildebrand said. "It was just one of those things."
Rain threatened all day, but it never got
to the track, staying west the whole race. It was a cool race day, with the temperature at 59 at the start of the race.