INDIANAPOLIS The day began with the former Colts quarterback Jim Harbaugh driving the pace car and the crowd of some 300 000 singing along to Back Home Again in Indiana.
The 97th Indianapolis 500 ended with a wild finish filled with caution flags a last gasp pass and a win finally for Tony Kanaan.
Kanaan a 38 year old Brazilian who was racing in his 12th Indy 500 claimed his first win in the race when he passed Ryan Hunter Reay with three laps to the finish and claimed victory on a caution after Dario Franchitti crashed a lap later.
Kanaan made his move on a restart after another caution that first interrupted his duel with Hunter Reay. He drew even at the start finish line and completed the pass around Turn 1. In the 194th lap Graham Rahal brought out the yellow flag when he collided with the wall setting up the showdown for the final laps. All Kanaan would get was one lap but it was enough.
The race was a wide open affair from the beginning. Sixty eight lead changes eclipsed the previous record of 34 set last year.
In the end though it was Kanaan who tasted the victor s milk at the Brickyard an exclamation point on an illustrious career that includes 15 career IndyCar race wins and a series championship in 2004.
Story lines abounded before the race. The field for the first time since 1987 included two three time winners. Franchitti the defending champion started from 17th position but was never a factor. Helio Castroneves lurked for much of the race in the top 10 but never challenged for the lead.
Ed Carpenter the Indianapolis resident and hometown favorite was the pole sitter. He battled with Marco Andretti for the early portions of the race before fading.
It was a cool and sunless afternoon in Indianapolis. At 62 degrees it was the third coldest race in Indy s history. Rain was in the forecast but it stayed away long enough for Kanaan to capture the checkered flag.