Sato escapes horror shunt as Rahal battles to ninth at Pocono Raceway

Takuma Sato walked away thankfully unscathed from a huge five-car shunt at Pocono Raceway as Rahal Letterman Lanigan teammate Graham Rahal battled to ninth in a rain shortened race.

In a race that was eventually won by Will Power, the big drama of the day happened on the opening lap. As the field approached Turn 2, Sato passed Alexander Rossi on the high side and Ryan Hunter-Reay on the inside. In making the move, Rossi and Sato made contact, which also collected Hunter-Reay into the bargain.

The impact sent all three into the inside wall before the cars came careering back onto the racing line, Sato unfortunately also collecting Felix Rosenqvist with James Hinchliffe hitting the outside wall in taking evasive action.

It was a worrying moment but thankfully, somewhat miraculously, all drivers were checked and cleared at the Medical Center, Rosenqvist transported to a local hospital before being released later.

“First of all, I am worried about Felix,” said Sato immediately afterward. “Hopefully he is okay. I am sorry for all the guys fighting for the championship. Ryan and I were obviously racing at the exit of Turn 1 and it looks like Alexander had a slow start. We both went right and left (of Rossi) and I thought it was all clear. All the seams also are putting the car really easy to get the lane change and everybody gets close. Unfortunately, it looks like we made contact for that.”

Despite Sato’s misfortune, it wasn’t all bad news for the Acronis partner team, Graham Rahal equalling his highest finish of ninth from seven starts at Pocono.

“We need a little more pace,” said Rahal. “We were a little slow on the straights for some reason but we’ll keep digging into it.  I had a bad restart (went from fifth to ninth), but it wasn’t that bad actually. I was pulling up on the guys in front of me but I just got driven around and was in a position where I was a little bit of a sitting duck and lost a bunch of spots and that killed our race from then-on frankly. We were scrambling just to get ourselves back in position. I had another good restart later and went from 13th to 9th and made some of those spots back up.”

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.