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Wheldon outduels Patrick in closing laps

Dan Wheldon Wheldon

INDIANAPOLIS – Englishman Dan Wheldon spoiled Danica
Patrick's
big day, passing the only woman to lead the Indianapolis
500 in the final laps and holding on for his fourth victory of the
season.

Vitor Meira was second, Bryan Herta was third and Patrick
finished fourth after she ran out of fuel on the final lap.

"This has been a dream come true for me," said Wheldon, the
IndyCar Series points leader, who passed Patrick for the lead with six laps remaining. "I've loved the Indianapolis 500 since I was a kid. The
best drivers, the best teams in the world.

"I'm having an emotional moment," he said, pausing.

The win was the first for team owner Michael Andretti. Meira and
Patrick are teammates with Rahal Letterman Racing.

"I think I showed I was a rookie with some of the things I did,
but I think I showed my on-track performance is there," Patrick
said. "I'm proud. I'm proud of the team."

It was the best finish among the four women who have raced at
Indianapolis.

Patrick seemed to have a good shot at winning the race when she
passed Wheldon for the lead on a restart with 10 laps to go, but
she couldn't stay in front as Rahal's gamble on fuel failed and she
slowed as she began running out of gas.

Still, it was an impressive comeback for Patrick, who dropped to
11th after damaging her car's nose cone with just over 100 miles to
go.

Sam Hornish Jr. had led 77 laps but went out of the race in a
crash just before that. During that caution, Dario Franchitti led
teammates Wheldon and Tony Kanaan before all three leaders made pit
stops. During the shuffle, Wheldon came out first, followed by
Meira and Franchitti.

Patrick, who dropped to 16th after stalling during an earlier
pit stop, had worked her way up to seventh before making contact
with Tomas Scheckter and then Tomas Enge. She came into the pits
for a new nose cone and remained on the lead lap but in 11th place
after 160 laps.

Kanaan, the runner-up last year, was leading Hornish by less
than one second at that point.

Patrick took her first lead on the 56th lap when the three
drivers ahead of her made their second pit stops before she did.
She was running fourth at the time but stayed on the track and led
for one lap.