Takuma Sato came close to victory in the Indianapolis 500 back in 2012 only to crash on the final lap whilst battling Dario Franchitti, but it all came good for the Japanese racer as he triumphed in the 101st running of the legendary event on Sunday.
The Andretti Autosport driver overcame the challenge of Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves over the final stages to come through to become the first Japanese winner at Indianapolis, winning by just 0.2011 seconds.
It was the second year in succession that an Andretti driver took victory, but throughout the race the team showed good pace, with Sato, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Fernando Alonso and 2016 winner Alexander Rossi all leading a significant number of laps.
It looked as though the team would lose their chances of victory when first Hunter-Reay and then Alonso fell out of the race with Honda engine failures, while Rossi lost time and fell to the back of the pack during a pit stop that he could only recover to seventh. But Sato certainly had other ideas!
Alonso’s maiden Indianapolis 500 has come to an end with only twenty-one-laps to go when the Honda engine on his #29 McLaren Honda Andretti machine let go down the front stretch, while Hunter-Reay had dropped out earlier after being one of the fastest cars on track.
It was not the only Honda engine failure, with Charlie Kimball retiring whilst running in second place for Chip Ganassi Racing, with the team having earlier seen pole sitter Scott Dixon crash out in a horror accident with Schmidt Peterson Motorsport‘s Jay Howard on lap 52. Castroneves was lucky to avoid the incident, driving under Dixon’s car as it flew through the air, but he was just short in his attempt to win this race for a fourth time.
Ed Jones drove a superb race to finish third for Dale Coyne Racing, just 0.5278 seconds off the win, while Max Chilton was an excellent fourth for Chip Ganassi Racing and led a lot of laps in the closing stages before being shuffled down the pack in the last few laps.
Tony Kanaan led early on but soon dropped into the midfield pack after the first round of pit stops, and was not in contention for the win thereafter, but came through to fifth at the chequered flag, just ahead of Team Penske’s Juan Pablo Montoya and Rossi.
Marco Andretti could not match the pace of his Andretti Autosport team-mates during the race, and was forced to change his rear wing after losing one of the winglets early on, but came through to eighth, with Gabby Chaves and Carlos Muñoz completing the top ten, which for the former was a good result as he was racing with Harding Racing, who were making their IndyCar Series race debut.
Ed Carpenter finished eleventh for Ed Carpenter Racing after surviving a lurid moment heading into turn one midway through the race, with the American lucky that Mikhail Aleshin was on his inside to prevent a full spin, although both drivers were forced to pit to repair damage.
Graham Rahal was also in contention for the win but a tyre issue forced him into an unscheduled stop, with the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver only able to recover to twelfth ahead of Aleshin, while Simon Pagenaud was never in the hunt, the Team Penske driver struggling home to fourteenth ahead of Sebastian Saavedra (Juncos Racing), JR Hildebrand, Pippa Mann and Spencer Pigot.
For Hildebrand it was another case of what might have been, having been running inside the top five only to take a penalty for passing before the green flag at one of the restarts, which dropped him down to sixteenth at the end of the race.
A five-car crash with seventeen-laps to go saw the demise of five contenders, with James Davison and Oriol Servia both looking strong, with the former in particular showing great pace despite having had limited run since replacing the injured Sebastien Bourdais at Dale Coyne Racing. The Australian ran as high as second despite a penalty for ignoring a black flag for running with a damaged front wing, but he more than justified his place in the team, even if Dale Coyne can ill-afford the cost of his crash. James Hinchcliffe, Will Power and Josef Newgarden were all caught up in the incident as debris littered the track.
Earlier in the race, there were crashes for Buddy Lazier, Conor Daly and Jack Harvey, while mechanical issues befell Zach Veach and Sage Karam.
But no one was to deny Takuma Sato – Indianapolis 500 winner!
Indianapolis 500 Race Rseult
|1||26||Takuma Sato||JAP||Andretti Autosport||200 Laps|
|2||3||Helio Castroneves||BRZ||Team Penske||+0.2011s|
|3||19||Ed Jones||UAE||Dale Coyne Racing||+0.5278s|
|4||8||Max Chilton||GBR||Chip Ganassi Racing||+1.1365s|
|5||10||Tony Kanaan||BRZ||Chip Ganassi Racing||+1.6472s|
|6||22||Juan Pablo Montoya||COL||Team Penske||+1.7154s|
|7||98||Alexander Rossi||USA||Andretti Herta Autosport||+2.4222s|
|8||27||Marco Andretti||USA||Andretti Autosport||+2.5410s|
|9||88||Gabby Chaves||USA||Harding Racing||+3.8311s|
|10||14||Carlos Munoz||COL||AJ Foyt Enterprises||+4.5319s|
|11||20||Ed Carpenter||USA||Ed Carpenter Racing||+4.6228s|
|12||15||Graham Rahal||USA||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||+5.0310s|
|13||7||Mikhail Aleshin||RUS||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||+5.6993s|
|14||1||Simon Pagenaud||FRA||Team Penske||+6.0513s|
|15||17||Sebastian Saavedra||COL||Juncos Racing||+12.6668s|
|16||21||JR Hildebrand||USA||Ed Carpenter Racing||+33.2191s|
|17||63||Pippa Mann||GBR||Dale Coyne Racing||+1 Lap|
|18||11||Spencer Pigot||USA||Juncos Racing||+6 Laps|
|19||2||Josef Newgarden||USA||Team Penske||+14 Laps|
|RET||18||James Davison||AUS||Dale Coyne Racing||Retired|
|RET||16||Oriol Servia||ESP||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Retired|
|RET||5||James Hinchcliffe||CAN||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||Retired|
|RET||12||Will Power||AUS||Team Penske||Retired|
|RET||29||Fernando Alonso||ESP||McLaren Honda Andretti||Retired|
|RET||83||Charlie Kimball||USA||Chip Ganassi Racing||Retired|
|RET||40||Zach Veach||USA||AJ Foyt Enterprises||Retired|
|RET||28||Ryan Hunter-Reay||USA||Andretti Autosport||Retired|
|RET||24||Sage Karam||USA||Dreyer & Reinbold Racing||Retired|
|RET||44||Buddy Lazier||USA||Lazier Partners Racing||Retired|
|RET||4||Conor Daly||USA||AJ Foyt Enterprises||Retired|
|RET||50||Jack Harvey||GBR||Michael Shank Racing with Andretti Autosport||Retired|
|RET||9||Scott Dixon||NZL||Chip Ganassi Racing||Retired|
|RET||77||Jay Howard||GBR||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||Retired|