INDIANAPOLIS – I wrote last weekend that Takuma Sato would be a factor in this year’s Indianapolis 500. He was now with a race winning team in Andretti Autosport and had a car that Carlos Munoz drove to a second place run in 2016.
Sato, was in or near the top five in most speed charts all month and qualified his No. 26 Honda fourth. The only thing is he’d never finish in the top 10 in this race in seven previous tries.
Today, he showed that speed all month and won the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. It was just his second career Verizon IndyCar Series victory, but both are in the two biggest races of the year for them. He won in 2013 at Long Beach too.
Sato, stayed in the hunt all day, taking the lead for the first time on Lap 65. It was his thrilling moves in the end though, making a three wide pass for second place on the outside in Turn 1 inside of 10 laps-to-go, then got by Helio Castroneves for the top spot on Lap 195.
He’d never look back.
Sato, gave Andretti Autosport their second straight Indy 500 victory and third in the last four years, beating Castroneves by 0.2011-seconds, the sixth closest finish in Indy 500 history.
Castroneves, finished second for the second time in the last four years, as those finishes are by a combined 0.2611-seconds.
The duo had an epic battle in the end and one for the ages.
Rookie Ed Jones finished third while Max Chilton, who led a race high 50 of the 200 laps on Sunday finished fourth as the top Chip Ganassi Racing driver.
Tony Kanaan rounded out the top five.
For Sato, he got 137 points for the win and qualifying points, as that was 41 more points than second place Castroneves. That’s virtually two full races which moves him up to a tie for second in the standings.
Castroneves, inherited the points lead while Scott Dixon who was involved in a wicked Lap 53 crash which saw him run into a wrecked Jay Howard exiting Turn 1 and sent him airborne into the inside SAFER barrier came home 32nd.
Simon Pagenaud had to pit on the final caution for blistered tires and finished 14th.
Dixon and Pagenaud were 1-2 entering this month and had a top five in every race this year.
Another big crash happened when Conor Daly got into the Turn 3 SAFER barrier on lap 66. Jack Harvey was collected as well.
Buddy Lazier crashed out on Lap 122.
The final crash was a big one on Lap 184. Oriol Servia and James Davison were running inside the top five, but they touched wheels exiting Turn 1 on the late race restart and collected Josef Newgarden, James Hinchcliffe and Will Power.
The race had 35 lead changes among 15 drivers.
The series heads to Belle Isle for a doubleheader next weekend.
101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 Results:
- 26 Sato
- 3 Castroneves
- 19 Jones R
- 8 Chilton
- 10 Kanaan
- 22 Montoya
- 98 Rossi
- 27 Andretti
- 88 Chaves
- 14 Munoz
- 20 Carpenter
- 15 Rahal
- 7 Aleshin
- 1 Pagenaud
- 17 Saavedra
- 21 Hildebrand
- 63 Mann -1
- 11 Pigot -6
- 2 Newgarden -14
- 18 Davison OUT
- 16 Servia OUT
- 5 Hinchcliffe OUT
- 12 Power OUT
- 29 Alonso R OUT
- 83 Kimball OUT
- 40 Veach R OUT
- 28 Hunter-Reay OUT
- 24 Karam OUT
- 44 Lazier OUT
- 4 Daly OUT
- 50 Harvey R OUT
- 9 Dixon OUT
- 77 Howard OUT