Tribune-Star staff report
Rubens Barrichello, in his long racing career, ran in his first oval race and finished 10th, the highest finishing rookie in the 2012 Indianapolis 500.
Barrichello was talked into coming to IndyCar by his good friend Tony Kanaan, after Barrichello had finished a successful career in Formula 1. Throughout the month, he concentrated on learning the difficult 2.5 mile oval instead of speed, but still he started the race on the inside of row four.
“It was a great achievement today,” Barrichello said. “The first oval experience, it was very different than anything I’ve done. At 220, 225 mph, it’s just madness out there sometimes. Some of them have more respect than others.”
Overall, Barrichello was happy with his Indy experience. He came into the race not expecting much, but learned a great deal.
“You learn who races a little bit harder, but the last 20 laps is completely different than the first 180.”
• Pre-race – Martina McBride sang the national anthem and Florence Henderson again sang “God Bless America” in pre-race activity, while Jim Nabors delivered “Back Home Again in Indiana” by video.
A special Dan Wheldon memorial video was shown and drivers ran a tribute lap to the 2011 winner, who was killed in an accident in Las Vegas last year.
Personality chef Guy Fieri drove the pace car and television personality Howie Mandel was honorary announcer.
Former baseball great Pete Rose and former baseball manager Tommy LaSorda attended their first 500s. Others in the crowd were Olivia Newton-John and Gladys Knight.
• Protestant and Catholic chapel services were conducted prior to the race by Indycar Ministry.
Miss America 2009 Katie Stamm was the singer in the services.
• Pit passes – The day was hot for the 96th race, but it did not set a record. The official high at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was 91 degrees, or one degree short of the record set in 1937.
• Dario Franchitti is the 10th driver to win the race three times and joins Helio Castroneves to do it in the fewest number of starts: nine.
• Sixteen cars completed the full 500-mile distance … Franchitti and Scott Dixon also finished one-two in the 2007 race when Franchitti was driving for Andretti Green Racing and Dixon was with Ganassi … Franchitti is the second driver to win from the 16th starting slot.
• Four drivers led the 500 for the first time: Takuma Sato, James Hinchcliffe, Charlie Kimball and Rubens Barrichello … this year marks the first time for car No. 50 to win the 500 … Jean Alesi is the third driver to start 33rd and finish 33rd.
• The record for most different lap leaders is 12 set in 1993.
Correspondents Tom Reck and Lori Wood contributed to this report.