Super Sato pipped to victory in thrilling finish to Indianapolis 500

Takuma Sato almost pulled off an astonishing victory in the historic Indianapolis 500 after coming from the back of the field to finish third, just behind race winner Simon Pagenaud and Alexander Rossi.

In a thrilling end to ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’, the top three crossed the line within a second of one another with the winner an unknown until the very end.

In winning the race, Pagenaud became the first driver to win from pole position since Penske teammate Helio Castroneves in 2009 after passing Rossi on the penultimate lap of the race, having led 116 laps in a tit-for-tat battle.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver Sato had led the race twice having once been 31st from his starting position of 14th. And, following the final restart, the Japanese passed Josef Newgarden and Ed Carpenter before the finish to take third, just behind the leaders.

“It was an amazing job from the team really, once we went laps down, I know the Indy 500 can be a miracle, but after that there was a long period of no yellows,” said Sato afterward. “I think we spent more than 100 laps to get back on the lead lap, but you know we just put our head down and did the job.  Just brilliant strategy, I feel, and we got back to the lead lap.  But before that, huge congratulations to Simon.

“What a big win as an outstanding performance winning the GP and everything.  Alex and I tried everything we’ve got.  If you have the last seven laps, we were just all over the place.  Power sliding, we were just, I don’t know, we had a lot of understeer.  It was a great battle but just a shame we were not quite there yet. Huge credit to the team.  What a comeback after being a lap down.”

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.