Takuma Sato held off Scott Dixon over the final 10 green-flag laps of Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 to get his second win in the most famous IndyCar race.
Sato was ahead of Dixon on Lap 196 of the 200-lap race when Spencer Pigot was involved in a scary crash off Turn 4. Pigot’s car hit the outside wall exiting the corner after spinning and then slammed into the barriers that guard the end of the wall that separates the frontstretch and pit road.
Pigot was able to climb from his car with assistance from safety workers but then laid down on the track where he was attended to by medical personnel. Pigot was reported to be awake and alert by IndyCar officials as he was transported to a local hospital after he was taken to the infield care center.
Pigot tweeted out later on Sunday night that he was headed home from the hospital and doing fine.
Headed home after a long day. Thanks to the @indycar_safety team and @IU_Health for taking great care of me. Feel bad for the @HyVee 45 team but big congrats to my teammate @TakumaSatoRacer on the win! pic.twitter.com/CSHFByJtNY— Spencer Pigot (@SpencerPigot) August 24, 2020
Sato previously won the Indy 500 in 2017 and Sunday’s win in the pandemic-postponed race is his sixth in the IndyCar Series. He was congratulated by team co-owner David Letterman in victory lane.
“God bless you my friend, thank you very much, thank you very much,” the former late-night television host told Sato.
Sato won the 2017 Indianapolis 500 while driving for Andretti Autosport. His victory Sunday is the first for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing since Buddy Rice won the 2004 Indy 500.
Sato’s winning pass came with more than 20 laps to go. Sato got ahead of Dixon on the track and maintained that gap as the two drivers made their final pit stops of the race. Sato’s stop was faster than Dixon’s and he held off two near-challenges from Dixon until the two drivers were set to navigate lapped traffic in the final laps.
Could Dixon have gotten past Sato if the race had stayed green? Maybe. But Sato had previously shown he could comfortably keep Dixon at bay and put a lapped car between the two of them before Pigot’s crash happened.
Dixon had dominated the race until the final laps. He led 111 of the race’s 200 laps and seemed to have the best car until Sato had gotten ahead of him.
“It’s definitely a hard one to swallow,” Dixon said.
No, IndyCar does not have overtime
Unlike NASCAR, the IndyCar Series doesn’t have a rule mandating at least an attempt at finishing the race under green. That’s why Sunday’s race ended under caution at its scheduled Lap 200 conclusion.
Could IndyCar have red-flagged the race and tried to restart it for a few green-flag laps? Probably not. The leaders had less than five laps to go when Pigot crashed. A delay would have been substantial because Pigot was being treated on the track by safety workers before he was safely transported away to the infield care center. And IndyCar track workers needed a lot of time to fix the pit lane attenuator after his crash.
This was not the first Indy 500 to end under caution, and it won’t be the last.
Rossi crashes after penalty
Alexander Rossi had a car that could have and maybe should have been racing Sato and Dixon for the win late in the race. Instead, it was mangled and in the infield at Indianapolis when the race concluded.
Rossi was penalized with just more than 60 laps to go for an unsafe release pit penalty. His team had a slow pit stop and he collided with Sato as he exited his pit stall and drifted into the outside pit lane.
The penalty put Rossi at the back of the field for the ensuing restart. And while he quickly gained some spots, he didn’t make a ton of headway. And then he crashed out.
Rossi said after the crash that he was upset with the pit penalty and wanted to have a discussion with IndyCar officials.
Penske cars struggle in first Penske-owned 500
Sunday’s race was run with no fans in attendance and three months after its traditional Memorial Day weekend spot on the calendar because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a brutal way for new IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske to host his first 500 as the man in charge.
The longtime racing team owner, who agreed to purchase the series in late 2019, gave the command for drivers to start their engines. And once the engines were fired, Penske’s cars didn’t have winning speed.
Josef Newgarden finished fifth and was the only Team Penske driver in the top 10. Helio Castroneves was 11th and Will Power was 14th. Defending Indy 500 winner Simon Pagenaud was 22nd after he had to get the front wing on his car replaced after contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Fernando Alonso finishes 21st
Will Fernando Alonso ever be back in the Indianapolis 500?
Alonso, 39, was a non-factor and finished 21st on Sunday in what could be his last Indy 500. The two-time Formula 1 champion is returning to that series in 2021 with Renault. And his two-year Formula 1 contract prohibits him from running the Indy 500.
“It’s a very straightforward answer,” Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul said earlier this month when asked about Alonso being able to run at Indy in 2021 and 2022. “Actually, I’m hardly breathing until next weekend when he is stepping out of his racing car at Indianapolis. But I can be very clear that once he’s with us, that’s for good and for a while. So, no distractions.”
This year was Alonso’s third attempt at the Indy 500. He failed to make the race in 2019 after finishing 24th in his first race in 2017. He had a blisteringly fast Andretti Autosport car that year and led 27 laps. But a blown engine with 21 laps to go ruined any chances of a win.
1. Takuma Sato
2. Scott Dixon
3. Graham Rahal
4. Santino Ferrucci
5. Josef Newgarden
6. Pato O’Ward
7. James Hinchcliffe
8. Colton Herta
9. Jack Harvey
10. Ryan Hunter-Reay
11. Helio Castroneves
12. Felix Rosenqvist
13. Marco Andretti
14. Will Power
15. Zach Veach
16. JR Hildebrand
17. Max Chilton
18. Charlie Kimball
19. Tony Kanaan
20. Rinus VeeKay
21. Fernando Alonso
22. Simon Pagenaud
23. Ben Hanley
24. Sage Karem
25. Spencer Pigot
26. Ed Carpenter
27. Alexander Rossi
28. Alex Palo
29. Conor Daly
30. Oliver Askew
31. Dalton Kellett
32. Marcus Ericsson
33. James Davison
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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