Franchitti was spun around in his pit stall after a bump by E.J. Viso, sustaining a damaged front nose. The three-time defending IZOD IndyCar Series champion thus was forced to work his way back from 28th in the field.
The Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver parried with teammate Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Takuma Sato for the lead before moving in front with less than two laps remaining, then held off Sato on the final lap and bested Dixon by 0.03 seconds at the finish line.
Points leader Will Power ended in 28th place after crashing with Mike Conway midway through the race.
Defending champion Dan Wheldon, who died in an Oct. 16 multi-car crash at Las Vegas, was honored before the race when car owner Bryan Herta drove his vehicle one lap around the 2.5-mile oval.