The Jay Graves Report

Takuma Sato becomes the first Japanese driver to win the Indy 500! “Survival of the Fittest”

Takuma Sato wins the 101st Indianapolis 500! Photo: Darron Cummings/AP

After 9 cautions in the 200-lap and 500 mile race, Japan’s Takuma Sato crossed the line first. Sato overcame a multitude of accidents to become his country’s first driver to win the Borg-Warner trophy. Sato’s pass with five laps to go sealed the deal for the highly competitive race.

For majority of the day the Andretti Autosport armada dominated the competition at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. At one point four of their six cars from the team were in the top five in the field. As the race progressed, the engine troubles that have plagued Honda all month eliminated the Andretti cars of Ryan Hunter-Reay and Fernando Alonso.

Alonso, who skipped the prestigious Formula One Grand Prix of Monaco that took place this morning was obviously disappointed with the ending to his month of May. The leader of 27 laps, Alonso was seen as someone who’d be contending to the end, but fate had other plans.

“Obviously disappointed not to finish the race because obviously every race you complete, you want to be at the checkered flag. Today was not possible. Anyway, it was a great experience, the last two weeks. I came here basically to prove myself, to challenge myself. I know I can be as quick as anyone in an F1 car. I didn’t know if I could in an Indycar.”

The race had its longest pause when the red flag was thrown after Pole-sitter Scott Dixon collided with a spinning Jay Howard and was sent careening towards the inside catch fence. Easily the scariest moment of the race, Dixon was able to walk away under his own power without injury.

Dixon said, “It’s tough. I was hoping Jay would stay against the wall. I’d already picked that way to go and there was nowhere else to go. I’m glad he’s okay too. You believe in the safety progress of these cars.”

Three-time 500 winner and today’s runner up Helio Castroneves made a late charge after battling back from trouble earlier on in the race. Castroneves was attempting to join the elite company of Rick Mears, Aj Foyt, and Al Unser as the only four-time winners. His lead with 6 laps to go was short lived as the Honda of Takuma Sato was too much to handle.

The obviously disappointed Castroneves spoke on his runner up finishes of the past and present at Indy and discussed his worse one.

“The first one, 2003. I knew that Aj Foyt Jr. would back off in turn two, I would go for it. That basically made me lose the race. Obviously, I was about three, four seconds ahead, or two seconds ahead of Gil (De Ferran). It was so bad that I had to slow to 3rd gear so we didn’t crash.”

The winner Sato knew that winning the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” wouldn’t be easy with Castroneves filling his rear-view mirrors.

“Always nervous wherever he is. I know Helio knows how to win here, too. But, you know, I was happy that it was only constant race on him, not five packs, we already had a good cushion between others. We had such a consistent car it gave me confidence.”