Dario Franchitti, 39, of Scotland, who May 27 won the Indianapolis 500, joined a select fraternity of the drivers who've won the event three times.
With his third winner in yellow-flag circumstances, Franchitti joins Louis Meyer, Wilbur Shaw, Mauri Rose, Johnny Rutherford, Bobby Unser and Helio Castroneves as triple winners.
"Thank all the fans for saluting our Dan (Wheldon) today," said Franchitti, who was one of deceased driver's closest friends. "What a race. What a race. I was side by side with Takuma (Sato). We hit and I managed to keep it out of trouble."
Franchitti's third win occurrred on a record-beaking day with more lead changes in the race than in any previous Indy 500 race.
The victory also occurred when Japanese driver Sato crashed on the final lap while trying the pass the leader on the first turn.
Sato pulled even with Franchitti, but got too low, spun and hit the outside wall. Sato's car barely missed Franchitti, who coasted across the line under a yellow caution flag.
Franchitti's teammate, Scott Dixon, finished second. Tony Kanaan, who had the lead off the last restart with six laps left, finished third in his 11th Indy 500.
Results, 96th Indy 500
1. Dario Franchitti; 2. Scott Dixon; 3. Tony Kanaan; 4. Oriol Servia; 5. Ryan Briscoe; 6. James Hinchcliffe; 7. Justin Wilson; 8. Charlie Kimball; 9. Townsend Bell; 10. Helio Castroneves; 11. Rubens Barrichello; 12. Alex Tagliani; 13. Graham Rahal; 14. JR Hildebrand; 15. James Jakes; 16. Simon Pagenaud; 17. Takuma Sato; 18. E.J. Viso; 19. Michel Jourdain Jr.; 20. Sebastien Bourdais; 21. Ed Carpenter; 22. Katherine Legge; 23. Ana Beatriz; 24. Marco Andretti; 25. Josef Newgarden; 26. Sebastian Saavedra; 27. Ryan Hunter-Reay; 28. Will Power; 29. Mike Conway; 30. Bryan Clauson; 31. Wade Cunningham; 32. Simona De Silvestro; 33. Jean Alesi.