Takuma Sato Wins Chaotic 104th Indianapolis 500

6 Mins read
Photo Credit: Chris Owens / Courtesy of IndyCar

After a chaotic race full of strategy, overtaking, and scary crashes, it would be Takuma Sato who got to hoist the Borg Warner Trophy and drink the milk as he was crowned Indianapolis 500 champion for the second time in three years. 

2008 Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon would go on to dominate the race early on, passing polesitter Marco Andretti before even reaching turn one.

Andretti would continue to slip down the top five, ending up in third by the end of the first lap.

Ed Carpenter would also not enjoy his start, as he would have to pit on lap two after contact with Zach Veach in the first short chute. The Andretti Autosport driver squeezed Carpenter into the wall, breaking the No. 20 car’s front wing.

Lap six would be the first caution of the day, as James Davison’s Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing machine would have issues with the brake rotor. Something made it run hot, causing the wheel to erupt in a fiery explosion. Davison would walk away okay from the wreck. 

Some cars would come into the pits on lap eight, including the likes of Simon Pagenaud, Helio Castroneves, Will Power, and Oliver Askew among others. 

Dixon would lead the field back to green on lap 13. Just as drivers began to settle in on this stint, it would be Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Marcus Ericsson who would bring out the caution yet again on lap 25. Ericsson ran a bit wide in turn one and got loose, pancaking the wall. A heartbreaking end to a strong showing all month at Indianapolis, Ericsson would walk away unharmed.

The leaders would come into the pits during this caution, and Scott Dixon would win the race off of pit road. He would be followed by Takuma Sato and Alexander Rossi as they lined up behind some of the earlier pitters. Ryan Hunter-Reay, who was running second at the time of the caution, would lose four spots on pit road, cycling out to tenth. 

Askew would lead the field to the restart on lap 32, but Pagenaud would immediately get past him on the frontstretch after a brilliant restart as chaos ensued behind. 

On lap 45, the leaders on the alternate strategy would pit again, and Dixon would inherit his lead again. He would continue to dominate even as the other leaders began to make their pit stops on lap 60. 

Troubles would find rookie Rinus Veekay as he pitted on lap 62. Not only did he stall his Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet exiting pit road, he would be given a penalty for colliding with his pit crew, essentially ruining a brilliant run that saw him as high as third place. 

Rossi also had a small mistake, as he was going too fast trying to enter the pits on lap 62. He would make a successful pit stop on the next lap, but lost precious time to Dixon. 

Dixon pitted on the same lap, and was able to maintain his lead as he jumped those on the alternate strategy with a masterful pit stop. 

The five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion would yet again dominate another stint, leading second place Sato by as much as ten seconds. That gap would be erased however, as A.J. Foyt Enterprises rookie Dalton Kellett would smash the wall in turn three after being caught in the dirty air of Ben Hanley, bringing out the third caution of the day.

The leaders would all come in under caution, and the top three of Dixon, Sato, and Rossi would remain the same. Pato O’ Ward and Josef Newgarden would make up lots of positions in the pit lane, moving up to fourth and fifth respectively. Drivers on the alternate strategy would come in a few laps later, essentially putting everyone onto the same strategy.

As the next restart was about to happen, Conor Daly would dip a tyre into the concrete in turn three, and spun out coming to green, immediately putting the caution out yet again. 

In this melee, Oliver Askew would have a scary wreck. Trying to avoid the cars checking up in front of him, Askew would veer left and oversteer into the inside safer barrier at a high speed. Askew, while shaken up, was able to walk away from the accident. 

On lap 101 the race would finally finally resume, with Rossi making a move on Sato into turn one for second place. Santino Ferrucci would make two spectacular moves around the outside of Marco Andretti in turn one and down the inside of Josef Newgarden in turn two to move from seventh to fifth in the span of two corners. 

From here, Dixon and Rossi would try to use each other to help save fuel, swapping the lead back and forth to pull away from third place O’Ward. Their plan was working wonderfully until the Brickyard claimed another rookie in the form of Alex Palou, as he would wreck on lap 122. The young Spaniard got high in turn one and lost control, smashing the wall. 

Everyone but Felix Rosenqvist would pit, and Rossi and Sato would make contact on pit road, and the former would be handed a penalty for unsafe release, sending him to the back of the field for the ensuing restart. 

Rossi would be a man on a mission when the race restarted on lap 132, making his way to seventeenth place in one lap, even passing four cars in one move on the back straight going into turn three. 

His charge would come to a tragic end on lap 144, as he would wreck in turn two just like Ericsson and Palou, getting loose and smacking the wall. 

Scott Dixon would yet again lead the field to another restart on lap 155. Lapped cars like Sage Karam caused some chaos, but allowed Josef Newgarden to launch himself to third place. 

Sato would make his final pit stop on lap 168, and Dixon would make his stop on the next lap. A small error by Dixon’s pit crew would cause him to lose the lead to Sato. 

Late in the race with about six laps to go, Sato and Dixon would close in on lap traffic. Sato would put Tony Kannan between him and Dixon, and was ready to put this race in the books. However, Spencer Pigot would have a scary wreck with five laps to go,

Pigot got loose and spun in turn four, smashing the outside wall. While sliding along the wall, the car hooked itself around, and Pigot made contact with the wall separating the pit lane and the track, essentially t-boning him. 

Pigot would be responsive, but would be stretchered off the track. He was then sent to a local hospital where he received further treatment. He would be released later that night perfectly okay.

Under caution, Takuma Sato would take the checkered flag, followed by Dixon and Sato’s teammate at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Graham Rahal in third. Santino Ferrucci would come home in a very impressive fourth place, and Josef Newgarden would make a top five finish out of an abysmal Indy 500 for Team Penske

Newgarden’s teammate Helio Castroneves would finish eleventh after starting twenty-eighth, and Meyer Shank Racing’s Jack Harvey finished in a very strong ninth place. 

The win and double points payout of the Indy 500 propels Sato into sixth in the championship with 207 points, while Simon Pagenaud drops from second place to fifth, and his Penske teammate Josef Newgarden inherits second on 251 points. Scott Dixon still leads with 335. 

The IndyCar circus will roll into St. Louis next week to World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway for the Bommarito Automotive Group doubleheader.

130Takuma SatoJPNRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing3:10:05
29Scott DixonNZChip Ganassi Racing-0.0577
315Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-0.0953
418Santino FerrucciUSADale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser-Sullivan-0.3929
51Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske-1.6619
65Pato O’WardMEXArrow McLaren SP-3.2496
729James HinchcliffeCANAndretti Autosport-4.2694
888Colton HertaUSAAndretti-Steinbrenner Autosport-5.1918
960Jack HarveyENGMeyer Shank Racing-6.8131
1028Ryan Hunter-ReayUSAAndretti Autosport-7.9613
113Helio CastronevesBRATeam Penske-10.3143
1210Felix RosenqvistSWEChip Ganassi Racing-13.9668
1398Marco AndrettiUSAAndretti Herta Autosport with Marco Andretti and Curb-Agajanian-16.0657
1412Will PowerAUSTeam Penske-17.6439
1526Zach VeachUSAAndretti Autosport-19.3960
1667JR HildebrandUSADreyer & Reinbold Racing-20.2342
1759Max ChiltonENGCarlin-21.4917
184Charlie KimballUSAA.J. Foyt Enterprises-24.7017
1914Tony KanaanBRAA.J. Foyt Enterprises-1 lap
2021Rinus VeeKay (R)NEDEd Carpenter Racing-1 lap
2166Fernando AlonsoESPArrow McLaren SP-1 lap
2222Simon PagenaudFRATeam Penske-1 lap
2381Ben HanleyENGDragonSpeed-2 laps
2424Sage KaramUSADreyer & Reinbold Racing-2 laps
2545Spencer PigotUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing w/ Citrone/Buhl Autosport-2 laps (Crashed)
2620Ed CarpenterUSAEd Carpenter Racing-6 lap
2727Alexander RossiUSAAndretti AutosportCrashed
2855Alex Palou (R)ESPDale Coyne Racing w/Team GohCrashed
2947Conor DalyUSAEd Carpenter RacingCrashed
307Oliver Askew (R)USAArrow McLaren SPCrashed
3141Dalton Kellett (R) CANA.J. Foyt EnterprisesCrashed
328Marcus EricssonSWEChip Ganassi RacingCrashed
3351James DavisonAUSDale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware RacingMechanical
(R) – Rookie
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