Veteran Driver Takuma Sato Wins Indy 500
SPEEDWAY, IN – RIS – Takuma Sato, driving for Andretti Autosport passed Helio Castroneves with three laps to go and held on for the victory in the 101st Indianapolis 500 Mile race. The margin of victory was 0.2011 seconds. Ed Jones, Max Chilton and Tony Kanaan rounded out the top five at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Sato, from Tokyo, Japan started from the fourth position and battled for victory in a thrilling Indy 500 that had a record 15 leaders. There were 35 lead changes.
"Unbelievable feeling," Takuma Sato Said. "I cannot thank this whole team (enough). Look at these guys. Fantastic. It was obviously a tough race. But Helio really drives fair. I can trust him. I can really trust him coming from the outside. It was a fantastic race."
Castroneves loss was heartbreaking. The veteran driver had a chance to win a fourth Indy 500, which would have tied him with the three four-time race winners (A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears). His day almost ended when Scott Dixon’s car flew over Castroneves during an incident early in the race. Dixon’s crash was frightening and completely destroyed the vehicle.
Another incident took out four drivers on lap 183. The incident took out Will Power, Oriel Servia, James Davison (substituting for injured Dale Coyne driver Sebastien Bourdais) and James Hinchcliffe.
Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso’s McLaren-Honda-Andretti Honda engine blew up with 20 laps to go in the race. He led the race and was in contention for the win until his engine failed. “I felt the noise and saw the smoke,” Alonso said. “It is a shame.”
The race included prior Indy 500 winners:
Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002 and 2009): Car was damaged after driving in grass to avoid contact during Dixon crash. Penalized with drive thru penalty for passing before the green flag on a restart. Passed by race winner Takuma Sato at end of race.
Scott Dixon (2008): The Pole winner’s day ended early after a violent crash between Turn 1 and 2. Jay Howard lost control of his car exiting Turn 2. It scraped the outside wall then turned down the track in front of Dixon. The Force of impact caused Dixon’s car to fly into the air backwards. It flew over Helio Castroneves car, landed sideways on top of the SAFER barrier and punctured a hole into the inside retaining fence. The rear of Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Racing Honda was sheared off by the impact. Dixon and Howard were not injured. The race was stopped for 19 minutes to repair the fence.
Tony Kanaan (2013): In contention for win. Finished fifth.
Juan Pablo Montoya (2000 and 2015): Slow pit stop. Factor late in race. Finished sixth.
Ryan Hunter-Reay (2014): Honda engine blew up while leading race on lap 137. Led seven times during race.
Buddy Lazier (1996): Car spun in Turn 2 and backed into the outside SAFER barrier. Transported to the local hospital for evaluation.
Alexander Rossi (2006): Trouble fueling during a late race pit stop. Finished seventh.
Sato was the first Japanese race winner. It was his second IndyCar victory. His last came at Long Beach in 2013.
This was Andretti Autosport’s fifth Indy 500 victory and 56th win in Indycar.
Dave Chess has been writing for RIS since the late 1980s during the CompuServe days. His work has also appeared in Auto Week magazine, Chicago Gearhead News newspaper, ATA airlines in-flight magazine, National Speed Sport News and on many websites.