Ashley Judd led the celebrations as husband Dario Franchitti completed an impressive Indianapolis 500 treble on Monday.
The 39-year-old Franchitti took his third chequered flag at the world famous race, making him only the tenth driver to reach three victories. Another triumph would see him equal the all-time record in the race, which has been staged almost annually since 1911. Franchitti scooped a cool $2.4 million for his victory.
Judd had confidently predicted Franchitti’s victory in the 96th edition of the race: her last words whispered in Franchitti’s ear before the start were, “I’ll see you in Victory Lane.”
And Franchitti was particularly pleased to win for his close pal Dan Wheldon, who was killed in a horrendous crash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last October. He told reporters after the race:
“What a race, what a race! I think D-dub [Dan Wheldon] would be proud of that one. I just want to dedicate this to two of Indianapolis’ finest, Dan Wheldon and Michael Wanser [son of Barry Wanser of Target/Chip Ganassi Racing]. Thanks to all of the Indianapolis fans for their tribute to Dan today.”
After he drove to victory, Franchitti was joined on the track by an ecstatic Judd, and the pair took a victory lap in the open-top pace car with Wheldon’s wife Susie. Judd later tweeted to a follower:
“It meant the world to be hold hands with and have my arm around Susie Wheldon’s waist on the Victor’s Parade Lap.”
Japanese driver Takuma Sato came close to spoiling the good vibes, however: he attempted to pass Franchitti on the first turn of the final lap, but lost control and crashed into the wall. Sato later seemed to accuse Franchitti of unsporting tactics, stating:
“I was going for the win, of course. I don’t think Dario gave me enough room so I’m really disappointed. It was the very last lap and I drove in, but he didn’t move up. I had nowhere to go, so I’m a little disappointed.”