On this day in... 2007

27th May 2017
Henry Hope-Frost

Ten years ago today (May 27th), Scot Dario Franchitti emulated his childhood hero and countryman Jim Clark by winning the Indianapolis 500, arguably the world’s greatest race. 

Or, to be more precise and a tad pedantic, the Indianapolis 415, as it was that year, thanks to a rain-lashed stoppage. It might have been 34 laps, or 85 miles, short of the traditional distance but that didn’t in any way mean the race wasn’t an absolute classic.

Franchitti had qualified his Andretti Green Dallara-Honda in third spot for his fifth Indy 500 – securing a place on the outside of the front row alongside team-mate Tony Kanaan and the polesitting Penske car of then-two-time winner Helio Castroneves.

From the start Kanaan and Castroneves engaged in a classic cat-and-mouse scrap, repeatedly swapping places at the front for the first 40 laps. With tactical gamesmanship coming into play from the minute the first pitstops took place, Franchitti and the third Andretti Green car of Marco Andretti joined in the lead jostling, as did the Chip Ganassi machine of Scott Dixon. Endless lead changes that typify every great 500 ensued, with Franchitti hitting the front on lap 74 and taking control for 14 laps.

After the #27 machine had pitted on lap 89, giving the Andretti Green crew another chance to dial out the understeer that Franchitti later revealed had plagued the car in the early running, Franchitti found himself mid-pack for the next chunk of the race, with it all to do again. 


Heavy rain arrived on the 113-lap mark. And from then on the complexion of the race changed dramatically, giving Franchitti the chance to play a tactical masterstroke.

Knowing that their cars could not, by regulation, be worked on during any stoppage period, several drivers elected to pit during the caution period that preceded the red flag. And that moved Franchitti up to fifth place.

At the restart, Franchitti was forced to pit to change a puncture he’d picked up during the caution period. Was it all over? Far from it. He dropped to 13th but, crucially, had taken on fuel, giving him more juice than the leaders, who’d filled up about 20 laps earlier.

A flurry of fuel monitoring and pit activity unfolded, thanks to further bad weather threatening to make its way in. 


On lap 150 a first-corner crash brought out the caution flags once more. Most of the pack dived for the pits, leaving Franchitti out front, where he stayed until further shunts on the rain-lashed track brought about a lap-166 chequered flag. Right place, right time.

For the seventh time in its long history, the Indy 500 didn’t run the full distance and there to collect one of the biggest prizes in racing – the Borg-Warner Trophy – and drink the winner’s milk was Dario Franchitti.

Indianapolis 500, 2007

1. Dario Franchitti (GB) – Andretti Green Dallara-Honda, 166 laps

2. Scott Dixon (NZ) – Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara-Honda, +0.36s

3. Helio Castroneves (BR) – Penske Dallara-Honda, +1.84s

4. Sam Hornish Jr (USA) – Penske Dallara-Honda, +4.63s

5. Ryan Briscoe (AUS) – Luczo Dragon Racing Dallara-Honda, +5.21s

6. Scott Sharp (USA) – Rahal Letterman Dallara-Honda, +9.34s

Photography courtesy of LAT Images

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