No matter who won, this was another thrilling ride for a sport that lost its way during the 1990s, wound up with two dueling series and turned off just about everyone who cared about American open-wheel racing.
On this day, there were a record 35 lead changes — six more than the previous high — and the quality of the racing over the closing laps was downright exhilarating. The best move was turned in by hard-luck Tony Kanaan, who made a zigzagging dash from fifth to first on a late restart, sending the crowd approaching 250,000 into a tizzy. But the popular Brazilian couldn't hold on for his first Indy win, settling for third behind Franchitti and Dixon.
Throw in the poignant tributes to 2011 winner Dan Wheldon, who was killed in a crash at Las Vegas last October, and this was a memorable day all around. Maybe, just maybe, it will be another small step toward restoring IndyCar to a more worthy place in the sporting hierarchy.
Hey, folks, this was just as exciting as NASCAR on its best day.
For everyone but Sato, that is.
Paul Newberry is a national writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at pnewberry(at)ap.org or www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963
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