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Indianapolis 500 winner: Dan Wheldon

May 29, 2011 | 12:26 pm

Indy5_600

Dan Wheldon won his second Indianapolis 500 in a wild finish in which California rookie J.R. Hildebrand had the victory in his grasp but crashed on the final turn.

Hildebrand, conserving fuel when others were forced to pit, passed defending winner Dario Franchitti with only a few laps remaining and was leading Wheldon when the white flag came out to signal the final lap at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

But as the 23-year-old Hildebrand entered Turn 4, he slammed into the wall. He kept his car moving forward but not fast enough to prevent Wheldon from passing him to reach the checkered flag first.

"I just kept pushing," Wheldon told a television audience after he took a gulp from the celebratory bottle of milk in Victory Lane. Choking back tears, he said, "I never gave up. It's just an incredible day."

Hildebrand settled for second, Graham Rahal was third and Tony Kanaan fourth.

Wheldon, a British driver, won the Indy 500 in 2005, but after winless seasons in 2009-10, he failed to get a full-time ride this season. But a group led by veteran driver Bryan Herta hired Wheldon to at least drive in this year's Indy 500.

RELATED:

Update: Dario Franchitti leads with 100 miles left in race

Indy 500 trivia: Why does the winner drink milk?

The history of the Indianapolis 500

-- Jim Peltz in Indianapolis

Photo: Dan Wheldon guides his car to the finish line while J.R. Hildebrand's car grinds against the wall coming out of Turn 4 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the 100th anniversary race on Sunday. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas / US Presswire

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