Sato holds off Helio to give Andretti another Indy 500 win

by Steven Clarke May 30, 2017, 5:46
Sato holds off Helio to give Andretti another Indy 500 win

Andretti the team owner now has five total Indy 500 wins, moving past A.J. Foyt into a tie for second with Chip Ganassi and Lou Moore for most among owners.

Ex-Formula One driver Takuma Sato secured victory for Andretti Autosport at the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 as Fernando Alonso retired with an engine failure.

The win marked the ex-Formula One driver's second victory in IndyCar racing- five years after he crashed on the final lap of the race trying to defeat Scotland's Dario Franchitti.

This time it was Sato who enjoyed the Indy 500 victor's traditions of drinking from a bottle of milk and kissing the strip of bricks at the start-finish line that's held over from the old surface of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"Again, I will say I'm sorry, I know better and I'm angry at myself because there was no constructive goal in saying it." he added. He struggled a bit on restarts - no surprise since it was his first rolling starts since racing go-karts in 1997 - but was otherwise one of the best drivers in the 33-car field.

Alonso did have a spectacular race and simply fell victim to his engine late in the race.

Last year, it was with rookie Alexander Rossi.

"I came here basically to prove myself and to challenge myself", he said. "I know that I can be as quick as anyone in an F1 vehicle".

Alonso said Sato has been a big help to him during his preparation for the Indianapolis 500.

Sato's only previous Indy auto victory was in 2013 with AJ Foyt Racing on the streets of Long Beach.

Sato lost a place to Castroneves before picking off Max Chilton for P2 and then sweeping into the lead of the race with six laps remaining. But the focus became more intense in the lead-up to the biggest race of the season.

France's Simon Pagenaud was never a contender Sunday, and two-time 500 victor Juan Pablo Montoya, of Colombia, led only two laps and finished sixth.

"I was really good in the corners catching up to the other cars but it was hard in the straights".

As more than 250,000 spectators looked on, including Vice President (and former IN governor) Mike Pence, Sato started fourth IN the 33-car field and then, with less than 10 laps left, passed Britain's Max Chilton for the lead.

What happened after that was more than can properly be explained. "I would consider coming back here to race now that I know all the procedures".

He had never driven for a top-tier team until this year when his Honda connections placed him with the Andretti organization, winner of four IndyCar championships - and more importantly, four-time Indianapolis 500 victor.

"After 2012 I really need (ed) to correct something I left over", a still stunned Sato said during his post-race news conference.

Rossi ran well again Sunday for most of the race and the Californian led 23 laps before finishing seventh. "I couldn't do what he was doing", said the Brazilian, who improved 17 places from his starting position.

"Obviously disappointed not to finish the race because obviously every race you compete, you want to be at the checkered flag", Alonso said.

Sato, who started from the second row, beat Castroneves by two-tenths of a second.

The team's Honda engines showed superior speed throughout practice and qualifying, but they also showed a maddening propensity to fail.

Dixon said he couldn't have avoided Howard's auto. "I had already picked that way to go, and it was nowhere else to go to avoid him".

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