The 5 Biggest Indycar “Chokes” Since 2006

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5. Takuma Sato, 2012 Indianapolis 500

Sato made a late run to the front, and on the final lap, he went way low into turn 1 to try to take the lead from Dario Franchitti. He got below the white line and the car locked up and spun out. He was impatient, and probably would have won the race had he waited to execute the move in turn 3, which, like turn 1, is a 1/4-mile turn coming off of a 5/8-mile straightaway and into a 1/8-mile short chute.


4. Takuma Sato, 2013 Sao Paulo Indy 300

Whenever someone would try to pass Sato down the 1-mile backstretch in the closing laps, he would move in front of them and block them to make them lose all of their momentum. On the final lap, however, James Hinchcliffe dove inside, Sato shifted over, Hinchcliffe then popped outside for the final corner. Sato had the inside, and due to the tightness of the turn, he drifted outside at the exit of the turn. Hinchcliffe, starting the turn on the outside, exited the turn on the inside with more momentum that Sato. He shifted over JUST in front of Sato and led the last few hundred feet of the race, the only point in the race during which he had the lead.


3. Graham Rahal, 2012 Firestone 550

With a sizeable lead with over 2 laps just to go, the rear of Graham Rahal’s car kissed the wall and he lost all kinds of momentum just as announcer Bob Jenkins said “Graham Rahal may be on his way to his 2nd victory in the IZOD Indycar Series.” Justin Wilson flew up on the scene behind Rahal and then passed him to lead the final 2 laps of the race. (start at the 2 hours 16 minutes mark)


2. Marco Andretti, 2006 Indianapolis 500

After cutting off all of Sam Hornish Jr.’s momentum in turn 4 of lap 199, Andretti, the announcer shouted “Oh he slammed the door on him! That will give him the victory right there because Hornish lost all the RPMs, he backed out of it. The white flag, one lap to go, Marco’s gonna win this thing! We’re gonna have another rookie winner! Marco is gonna win this thing! Unbelievable!” That was just one of a few similar rants that followed during that last lap. However, slowly but steadily, Hornish caught up to Marco by turn 4 and slingshot past him right in front of the finish line to take the victory.


1. JR Hildebrand, 2011 Indianapolis 500

Hildebrand had a 3+ second lead over Dan Wheldon when the white flag waved with one lap to go. On the backstretch of the final lap, announcer Scott Goodyear stated “And how fitting for the National Guard car to win, if he can indeed do that.” When Hildebrand got to the last of 800 total turns, he reached the car of Charlie Kimball, who was running out of fuel about to go a lap down. Hildebrand went high and slammed the wall, and slid across the wall to the finish line, but not before Dan Wheldon got there. Wheldon only led one time during the race for just a few hundred feet, but he led when it mattered most, and Hildebrand did not.


-Asher Fair


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