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Sunday saw an assortment of former F1 drivers contest the Indy 500, but it was Rubens Barrichello who fought off strong competition to pick up the prestigious Rookie of the Year title. The Brazilian, who is contesting the whole IndyCar Series of 2012, benefitted from the last-lap crash of KV Racing team-mate Takuma Sato to finish in 11th position.
Dropped by Williams after his 19th F1 season last year, Barrichello mixed it up with several Indy regulars and, after a late-race restart, crossed the finish line just three tenths of a second behind compatriot and former winner Helio Castroneves.
“My car had a little more downforce than most, to make sure I was comfortable and safe, but I made good progress,” Barrichello says on his personal website. “It was unlike anything I had ever done before. I really liked it and I’m very happy the squad put me forward to be able to contest my first (IndyCar) race at Indianapolis.
“I am very honoured that my team did everything right, all of that great work to keep me safe all the time; after this race, I have even more respect for what these guys do here. My team did an excellent job. I am very proud and had a wonderful afternoon here.”
Having won the race for a third time, Scotland’s Dario Franchitti netted a cool reward of 2.4 million dollars, with Barrichello’s 11th place bringing home 331,000 dollars. Barrichello’s Indy 500 debut came exactly a decade after winning the United States Formula 1 Grand Prix, at Indianapolis, for Ferrari.
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