Sato resists Carpenter in thrilling finish at Gateway

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Takuma Sato beat Ed Carpenter in a sprint to the finishing line at Gateway, the pair separated by just four hundredths of a second.

The RLL driver’s path to victory, one week on for being panned by his rivals for triggering a multi-car crash on the first lap in Pocono, was just one of several dramatic storylines which unfolded over the final laps at the Illinois oval.

Sato started the race from fifth place but fell back early on. He lost eight places when an attempt to pass Conor Daly went awry. He ran off-line onto the slippery part of the track which caught several drivers out during the race.

Josef Newgarden led the early running ahead of Will Power and Santino Ferrucci. But the Dale Coyne rookie, who has often impressed with his pace on ovals this year, worked his way into the lead through the mid-race pit stops.

Pocono winner Will Power retired early, sliding into the wall and smashing up the front-right of his Penske. That triggered a caution period during which another of the leading drivers in the championship hit trouble. An engine problem sidelined Scott Dixon, dealing a further blow to his hopes of retaining the title he won last year.

James Hinchcliffe led from Ferrucci when the race restarted, but a few laps later the Coyne driver was through into the lead. Ferrucci led almost 100 laps, but dropped behind his team mate when the pair pitted together, and a slow right-rear tyre change handed Sebastien Bourdais the initiative.

But Bourdais’s race was over just three laps after he pitted. “I just threw it away,” he admitted after spinning into the barrier coming onto the start/finish straight. Daly and Ferrucci were running close behind, and the rookie dodged to the inside of his spinning team mate to pass the Carlin driver as the caution lights came on.

This final caution period handed the lead to Sato, who had pitted early after his setback at the start of the race. Tony Kanaan and Ed Carpenter fell in behind him, while Ferrucci was now pursuing Newgarden.

With Alexander Rossi runnning further down the order, Newgarden had one eye on his points tally, and didn’t fight Ferrucci too hard. The Coyne driver took fourth for him and looked set to take a run at the trio ahead, until he ran wide and lost position to Newgarden again with eight laps to go.

As the laps ticked down Carpenter emerged as a greater threat to Sato’s victory hopes. He passed Kanaan for second place and quickly closed on the RLL driver ahead. Behind them Ferrucci had taken up the charge once more, re-passing Newgarden and bearing down on Kanaan.

The final lap was sheer drama. Carpenter was within touching distance of Sato and got a strong run out of the final corner, pulling alongside his rival. But Sato won the race to the line – by less than a car length.

Meanwhile Kanaan saw off a last-lap bid by Ferrucci to claim third. The Coyne driver lost momentum and again Newgarden closed on him. This time Ferrucci came down onto the line, forcing Newgarden to take evasive action.

The Penske driver spun over the inside of the corner, gathered his car up, but found it had gone into anti-stall. A queue of cars streamed by, including Rossi, though his title rival was a lap behind.

Simon Pagenaud was among those to pass Newgarden, and fifth place made him the leading rival to his team mate in the championship, the pair now separated by 38 points. Rossi is a further 70 behind with races at Portland and the double points finale at Laguna Seca remaining.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 11 comments on “Sato resists Carpenter in thrilling finish at Gateway”

    1. I’m really not sure how to feel about Ferrucci. On the one hand, there is no ignoring his obvious talent in ovals.

      But I cant help feeling worried that, not only did his F2 antics go essentially unpunished, but he keeps on doing really reckless moves like with Newgarden today that he genuinely believes was right. Also very worrying how, when he sees a crash up ahead, his instinct seems to be to floor it, pray for a gap and see how many people he can overtake.
      I completely agree with Newgarden that he’s going to cause a huge crash one day – I can only hope that it’s relatively minor with no injuries and knocks a bit of sense into him.

    2. @minnis
      I agree with you about Ferrucci. I’m a big believer in 2nd chances (less about 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc!) and feel like we should stop forever bringing up his GP2 ban (in a similar way to Dan Ticktum’s ban).

      However, this year I’ve not been impressed by his opportunistic moves thru the scene of an accident. I’ve been surprised at how much credit he’s been given for putting his foot down thru the carnage. Last week it was probably the correct decision, but Indy still seemed an all or nothing gamble.

      I think the thing that annoys me is again last week, he got lots of plaudits immediately after the Sato incident for the maturity of his words about looking after people, one week later he does exactly the opposite. Almost like he’s after a career in politics!

      I think if he wants to look at anything for inspiration it’s got to be Sato. Zero to hero, immediate redemption! Especially with many thinking he should have been banned for this race. He got his head down and proved what he can do.
      Ferrucci should take note. He’s doing well, but he’s still very much a rough edges diamond.

      1. @eurobrun I only bring up the ban as it served no real effect as he was awarded an IndyCar drive pretty much straight away. It’s a bit like taking away a child’s iPhone as a punishment but giving them an android instead!

    3. That should silence Sato’s critics.

      1. Why, did he hit 88MPH , go back in time and not crash into Rossi?
        Other than that a good drive from him and strategy from RLL and a second win of the season.

        1. Was talking about the criticsm we have been hearing after last weekends crash. Also quite unsual all the championship contendors hit troubles.

          1. Was talking about the criticsm we have been hearing after last weekends crash.

            Yeah, but as our fellow Finn correctly remarks, there is absolutely no connection between (arguably) causing a dangerous multi-car pile-up and winning races. Unless their attention span is comparable to that of a goldfish, not a single critic of Sato’s will think “Oh, he’s just won a race, my opinion is now invalid and I shall henceforth refrain from voicing it.”
            That’s just not how this works. At all.

      2. @Chaitanya It’s just that he leaves his brain at home on race day sometimes.

    4. Mark in Florida
      26th August 2019, 3:29

      Ferrucci = the evil dwarf. This guy is a talent on the ovals but he acts like he’s bullet proof. The old hands in Indy are going to get tired of his driving down on people and cutting the driving line off. If he doesn’t straighten out they’ll put him into the grass. Get a clue Ferrucci, you get pay back in Indy!!

      1. All youngsters think they are immortal, when i was young 1960’s I did carts and Motor 50cc and 125cc but lots of people told me i was reckless (ofcourse i thought i was fine) untill someone made a film and showed me with several older drivers which i respected very much what i was doing. I thought about it and stopped motor racing (i became to long 6″2′) but i drove different afterwards. But several of my friends died with motors because they didn’t think but used reaction to solve situations. Youngsters don’t think about crashes and certainly not you can be killed.

        1. Mark in Florida
          26th August 2019, 16:51

          +1 on that.

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