Honda Driver Takuma Sato Becomes First Japanese Racer to Win Indy 500
The 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 was a big one for Honda, as veteran driver Takuma Sato led the Japanese manufacturer to victory, himself becoming the first Japanese racer to win the Indy 500.
Sato bested three-time Indy winner Helio Castroneves as the two went head-to-head in a fierce duel over the final 11 laps of the race. After a multi-car crash on Lap 179 bunched the field, Sato was second behind fellow Honda driver Max Chilton, followed by Castroneves third and rookie Ed Jones in fourth.
When the green flag waved at the start of Lap 189, Sato quickly piloted his Andretti Autosport Honda to the front of the pack. The battle for the victory became a thrilling contest between Sato and Castoneves, with Sato obtaining the lead with five laps to go and holding on for the win by just two-tenths of a second at the checkers.
“I won! I won the best race in the world,” an excited Sato said afterwards. “Unbelievable feeling. I cannot thank this whole team [enough]. Look at these guys. Fantastic. It was obviously a tough, tough race. But Helio [Castroneves] really drives fair. I can trust him. I can really [trust him] coming from the outside. It was fantastic race. What a race. Hopefully, the crowd enjoyed it. It’s beautiful.
“I dreamed of something like this since I was 12. I can’t thank everyone enough for their support. Until three laps to go, you really didn’t know [who would win]. Me and Helio went side by side with three laps to go. You’ve got to go for it, run it flat. And we did it, and we pulled away. Fantastic.”
2016 Indy Lights champion Ed Jones made the most of his Indianapolis 500 debut, overcoming damage to his Dale Coyne Racing Honda to work his way into the lead group in the final 20 laps, and close on Castroneves on the final lap. Jones’ third-place finish was the best among the four rookies in this year’s race.