INDIANAPOLIS -- The hard-luck loser no more, Tony Kanaan finally won the Indianapolis 500 Sunday - with a bit of luck, at that.
In the mix all day during a record 68 lead changes, Kanaan dipped inside defending IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay on a restart with three laps to go.
From there, he cruised to Victory Lane under the yellow caution flag, flipping up his visor to wipe tears from his eyes as the crowd roared.
"I have to say, the last lap was the longest lap of my life," the popular Brazilian said.
"I got a little bit of luck today," said Kanaan, drenched in the celebratory milk. "I was looking at the stands, and it was unbelievable. I'm speechless. This is it, man. I made it."
Kanaan had his fair share of chances to win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but came up short time and time again. He was leading when the rain came in 2007, only to lose to Dario Franchitti when the race resumed.
In all, Kanaan went into Sunday's race with 221 laps led - more than any other non-winner except Michael Andretti and Rex Mays - but his second-place finish to Buddy Rice in 2004 was the closest he had come to victory. He had a pair of third-place finishes, including last year, again to Franchitti.
This time, it was Franchitti whose crash brought out the final caution to seal Kanaan's victory.
"It's wonderful for him," said Mario Andretti, himself a victim to bad luck at Indy. "He's raced here long enough that he deserves it, no question. He was strong all day. Certainly he deserves this in every way."
The win for Kanaan and car owner Jimmy Vasser was celebrated throughout the paddock as the losers all enjoyed seeing the popular IndyCar duo celebrate.
Alex Zanardi, who came from Italy to watch the Indianapolis 500 and gave Kanaan one of his 2012 London Paralympics medals as good luck, wept behind the pit wall as Kanaan took the checkered flag.
"I tell you I'm starting to think (the medal) really works," Zanardi said. "It's a dream come true to see Tony win, to see Jimmy Vasser win, my dear friend. I'm so happy, I'm so happy."
Fellow Brazilian Helio Castroneves, shooting for a record-tying fourth Indy win, was happy for his long-time friend.
"Finally he's able to win this race. He's so close so many times, but the good news is the good old boys are still able to run fast," Castroneves said.