In a race that saw the most lead changes in Indy 500 history (68), fan favorite Tony Kanaan finally scores his elusive Indianapolis 500 victory in his 12th attempt at the Brickyard.
It's the realization of a dream that began decades earlier and took him from Brazil to Europe to America. The sweat, sacrifice, physical labor and disappointment all cascaded to the floor of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Winner's Circle like the milk that ran down Tony Kanaan's firesuit during the effusive celebration.
Winning the 97th edition of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race is certainly more than a big payday. It's the marquee accomplishment in a race car driver's career, the confluence of speed, skill and good fortune over 200 laps on the persnickety 2.5-mile oval.
Click it: Indianapolis 500 Mile Race box score
It is "... marvelous," according to Kanaan, who earned the victory under caution when three-time champion Dario Franchitti's No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car made contract with the Turn 1 SAFER Barrier on a Lap 197 restart. Kanaan and rookie Carlos Munoz had overtaken race leader Ryan Hunter-Reay entering Turn 1 on the restart for a Lap 194 on-track incident involving Graham Rahal.
In a race that featured an astonishing 68 race-record lead changes among a race-record 14 drivers, Kanaan cruised to the checkered flag in front of more than 300,000 of his new-found closest Twitter friends and a global TV/radio audience. Kanaan, who completed the straight flush with the victory (he's finished first through fifth), wiped tears from his eyes as he guided the Chevrolet-powered No. 11 Hydroxycut KV Racing Technology/SH Racing car to the waiting Borg-Warner Trophy.
"That last lap was the longest of my life," said Kanaan, who started 12th and led 34 laps. "I got a little bit of luck today and this is for the fans. I was looking at the stands (on the cool-down lap) and it was unbelievable.
“I am speechless. I made it, and now I get to put my ugly face on that trophy. We were known for not winning (the race) and now we are known for winning. Everything was so smooth. (Race strategist) Jimmy (Vasser) was calm. I was calm. But out of the 11 times I have been here it was exactly the same, so when it was six laps to go and it went yellow I wasn't in the lead I said, 'This might be the day. Today might be the day.'
"I was in Ryan (Hunter-Reay's) position many times and then I knew I had to get the lead on the restart because it could be a yellow, which had happened to me plenty of times here. And it did. How life is funny, the yellow was my best friend."
Kanaan, 38, the 2004 IZOD IndyCar Series champion who was making his 201st consecutive Indy car start, said last week that the Speedway didn't "owe me anything." Some would argue that contention for the self-deprecating Indy car international ambassador. The historic facility at least owed the Kanaan, driving with torn tendons in his right hand, for his determination.
His face becomes the 100th face added to the Borg-Warner Trophy.