Andretti's only Indy 500 win came in 1969
May 30, 1969 - In his fifth attempt, Mario Andretti finally won the Indy 500. And he did it in a backup car!
Ten days earlier, Andretti had wrecked his Lotus-Ford in a practice run. Andretti, chief mechanic Clint Brawner and the rest of owner Andy Granatelli's team worked around the clock to prepare the backup vehicle, a Hawk-Ford.
In today's race, Andretti, starting from the No. 2 position, sailed past pole sitter A.J. Foyt on the first turn to take the lead, a spot he held for 116 of the 200 laps. Victory was virtually assured when his strongest challengers -- Lloyd Ruby (after 105 laps), Roger McCluskey (157) and Foyt (181) -- all were forced to drop out.
Andretti's biggest concern came on the No. 2 turn of the 150th lap when he got caught in the draft of another car, turned sideways, and almost hit the wall. However, he straightened out in time and, running at a record average of 156.867 miles per hour, cruised to victory by two laps over Dan Gurney. The only reason Andretti didn't finish even farther ahead was that his car had a tendency to overheat and therefore consumed inordinate quantities of gas, so he had to slow down several times.
This would be Andretti's only Indy 500 victory in 29 attempts.
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