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Top 10 Indy 500s, No. 10: A.J. Foyt wins after Andy Granatelli’s famous turbine car fails

Relive the 1967 Indy 500, as A.J. Foyt took advantage of Parnelli Jones' transmission bearing issue late to win his third Indy 500.

(Editor’s note: NBC Sports has selected the Top 10 Indy 500s of All-Time through an esteemed panel of former drivers, broadcasters, journalists and historians. The countdown begins today and will run through the 107th Indianapolis 500.)

The 1967 Indianapolis 500 was worth waiting for – and not just because the race resumed the day after its original date when rain halted the action through 18 laps.

The delay only heightened the anticipation about whether Andy Granatelli’s famed turbine car could stomp the field as an engineering marvel in a race known for its innovation and technology.

With an aircraft design and side-mounted engine, the No. 40 Granatelli-Turbine driven by Parnelli Jones was the talk of May 1967 at IMS.

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“Full marks to Andy for doing it,” said 1966 Indy 500 winner and two-time Formula One champion Graham Hill. “It’s a hell of a gamble, and it’s paid off, and he deserves every credit. I’m only sorry I didn’t think of it first.

A.J. Foyt estimated that his No. 14 Coyote-Ford had half the horsepower of Granatelli’s engine – but “Super Tex” also presciently predicted Jones’ gearbox would break.

After qualifying sixth, Jones whipped into the lead past pole-sitter Mario Andretti on the first lap.

Over the next two days, Jones led 171 of the first 196 laps – until his car fatefully began slowing on the backstretch during Lap 197.

“It was like all of a sudden you took it out of gear, and that was it,” Jones said. “It was sickening.”

The culprit was a $6 ball bearing in the gearbox that Granatelli had worried would fail because of its size.

Foyt inherited the lead, but there was more drama ahead. A four-car accident unfolded off Turn 4 on his final lap, but he drove through it for the third of his four Indy 500 wins (and becoming the race’s fourth three-time winner).

“I made a couple of zig-zags and lost them in the smoke,” said Foyt, who delivered the first win for Goodyear tires since 1919. “I dropped to second gear and said, ‘Whoever I hit, I’m going to hit them hard enough that I drive past the start-finish line.’ I couldn’t believe when I came out of the cloud of smoke, there was nobody sitting there.”

Jones, who won Indy in 1963, never raced at the Brickyard again. After being crashed in practice before the 1968 Indy 500, the No. 40 spent time on display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

NBC Sports has ranked the Top 10 Indy 500s through a panel that judged through scores of 1-20 in five categories (with a total of 100 being perfect): quality of racing, memorable moments, strength of competition, historical impact and spectacle.

Here’s a look at No. 10 on the list:

Year: 1967

Winner: A.J. Foyt

Margin of victory: Two laps

Lead changes: Eight among three drivers

Cautions: Ten

Other contenders: Aside from Foyt (who led 27 laps) and Parnelli Jones (171), Dan Gurney was the only other leader, pacing two laps before retiring in 21st with a failed piston. … The race is regarded to have one of the strongest fields in Indy 500 history with nine former or eventual Indy 500 winners and six former or eventual F1 champions. It also included three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Cale Yarborough (who placed 17th) and 14-time Cup winner LeeRoy Yarbrough (27th).

Winning move: Foyt took first when Parnelli Jones’ dominant car broke with three laps remaining.

How the voters saw it: Two ballots gave the 1967 Indy 500 its high score of 94, which vaulted the race into 10th place.