Takuma Sato, RLL, IndyCar, Indianapolis 500, 2020

Sato denies Dixon as Indy 500 ends under caution due to heavy crash for Pigot


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Takuma Sato scored his second victory in the Indianapolis 500 after passing Scott Dixon, who had controlled proceedings for much of the day.

The race ended under yellow flags following a huge crash for Spencer Pigot in the final laps of the race.

Marco Andretti led the field away from pole position but immediately lost his starting advantage to Dixon, who swept around the outside of him heading into turn one. From that moment on, the Ganassi driver looked like the man to beat. But an afternoon littered with Safety Car appearances brought a succession of rivals into his orbit.

A bizarre failure on James Davison’s car seven laps into the race brought an early interruption to proceedings. Debris flew from the front-right wheel assembly of the Coyne/Ware/Byrd/Belardi-run car, followed by a build-up of heat. As Davison tried to bring his car into the pits a full conflagration took hold, forcing him to come to a stop while safety crews tended to the blaze.

A handful of runners near the tail of the field took the opportunity to pit. The remainder headed in later when the first crash of the day prompted a second caution period. Marcus Ericsson, one of Dixon’s two Ganassi team mates, smacked the turn two barrier hard and climbed out of his car.

Start, Indianapolis 500, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 2020
Dixon took the lead off Andretti at the start
Dixon led most of the field in and out of the pits. But Ryan Hunter-Reay, who’d gained ground at the start, slipped back when he caught traffic on his way out.

Oliver Askew, who’d been among the first group of drivers to pit, led the field at the restart but soon lost his advantage to defending winner Simon Pagenaud. Both were doomed to lose their advantage when they pitted under green flags on lap 45, at which point quick McLaren SP pit work got Askew back ahead of his rival.

Dixon therefore regained the lead while Askew and Pagenaud took up the chase. The Ganassi driver, wary of his fuel consumption, was content to spend a spell in the slipstream of the last driver on the lead lap, Fernando Alonso, until the numbers on his dash display started to look more encouraging.

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Alonso’s place on the lead lap was temporarily saved when Dalton Kellett crashed, triggering the third Safety Car appearance of the day. This was followed soon after by the fourth, as Conor Daly spun on the restart and Askew, following behind, went off with him. The McLaren SP driver hit the SAFER barrier hard, and thankfully climbed out of his car.

The race resumed with half of the 200 laps completed and Dixon leading, while behind Alexander Rossi passed Sato to take up the charge against the Ganassi driver. This fight promised to have real teeth, Rossi having pushed Pagenaud every lap of the way 12 months earlier. But it started to come undone when Alex Palou hit the wall, causing the fifth caution period.

The field headed to the pits en masse but Rossi, following a slow right-rear wheel change, emerged from his pit box into the side of Sato. Race Control were quick to announce an investigation and soon afterwards ordered Rossi to drop to the tail of the field.

It was the beginning of the end. The 2016 winner was soon on the attack, passing a string of cars, aided by Pagenaud slowing dramatically when he nudged the rear of Hunter-Reay. But on the 145th lap Rossi twitched wide at turn two and thumped into the barrier, ending his day.

The race resumed with 45 laps to go and the field needing one more pit stop to reach the chequered flag. Dixon led Sato, while behind them Josef Newgarden moved into third at the expense of Graham Rahal.

The final pit stops were made under green flag conditions. Despite a slightly slow pit stop, Dixon rejoined the track with the effective lead of the race intact. But Sato, revelling in his car’s handling in the final stint, cruised up behind the Ganassi and put a move on him for the effective lead of the race.

Once the remaining drivers pitted, Sato became the true leader and was on course for a repeat of his 2017 victory. Dixon was in hot pursuit but the Ganassi driver didn’t seem as strong in the final laps, and Sato made light work of the inevitable traffic.

Takuma Sato, Scott Dixon, Graham Rahal, Indianapolis, 2020
The race ended under caution
With five laps to go the race was decided, ironically, by one of Sato’s team mates. Spencer Pigot lost his car at the exit of the final corner and spun backwards down the straight. But moments before striking the pit lane divider his car snapped broadside. Pigot suffered a heavy impact with the barrier which sent his car flying back across to the other side of the track.

Happily, the RLL driver was recovered from the car. But with the barrier needing extensive repairs, race control decided against red-flagging proceedings, and let the race finish under the seventh caution period of the day.

Sato’s other team mate, Graham Rahal, followed Dixon in third ahead of Santino Ferrucci and Newgarden. Pato O’Ward, who had his McLaren SP up to second at one stage, collected sixth. His team mate Alonso had an anonymous third appearance at the speedway, finishing a lapped 21st.

James Hinchcliffe recovered from a slow pit stop to take seventh place. Colton Herta, Jack Harvey and Hunter-Reay completed the top 10.

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Takuma Sato, RLL, IndyCar, Indianapolis 500, 2020
Sato kissed the bricks for the second time in his career

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40 comments on “Sato denies Dixon as Indy 500 ends under caution due to heavy crash for Pigot”

  1. proud_asturian
    23rd August 2020, 22:52

    Imagine still having the audacity to call Fernando Alonso a great driver after that performance…

    1. He’s still a 2 time F1 champion and Le Mans winner…

      1. His Le Mans wins are a joke.

        1. Chevys have been a non-factor for all of the month. Just because he had a totally anonymous race today doesn’t take away from anything else he’s achieved in his career. And I certainly won’t put any weight behind any comments made by someone who hasn’t created an account.

          It wasn’t the best 500 I’ve seen – better only than 2018, worse than last year and the other races in the last decade. But I’ll take that over the race not running at all. Based on what I’ve read elsewhere at least it maintains the viability of the series – without the 500 there would have been significant refunds (around 50%) to sponsors and likely many teams would have gone under without it.

          As for Alonso, my thoughts are that if he’s really serious about winning the 500, he needs to do the full season – we’ve been at the point for a while that one-off drives rarely factor into the race and are more to make up the numbers. Dan Wheldon winning in 2011 was the last time a non-full-time driver won & he wasn’t exactly inexperienced having been full-time between 2003-2010.

          1. His le mans win still a joke..

        2. The competition may not have been there but he was still immense in the car. Go back and watch his night stints.

      2. Alonso is one of F1’s greats. But perhaps today was a glimpse of his decline. He isn’t getting any younger… This race really was a poor show of him. I expected more.

        1. Fernando Alonso 39 years
          Takuma Sato 43 years

          His age shouldn’t be a factor i guess.

          1. You assume age has the same effect on everyone. I doubt so.

        2. What were you expecting, after he only classified 26th? To win the race?
          His team is very weak, the Chevy powered teams struggled all the time, even the almighty Penske couldn’t do a thing about the lack of power.

          With the right car, Alonso could easily repeat his ’17 race. But then he had backing from Honda to find him an excellent ride at Andretti. Now he has to make do with this Mclaren joint still pretty green in the circuit.

          He is aging, obviously, but to say this is a sign of it isn’t the smartest thing to say.

          1. Veekay qualified 4th with Chevrolet…
            He was in 3rd when he hit his mechanics during the pitstop… the car kept on going left and Rinus clearly showed he’s a rookie not being fully in controle…however he had the pace and he had the guts overtaking 3 wide during restarts and made up for 9 positions toward the end of the race.

            Veekay made one mistake, though he had the speed and racecraft despite his Chevrolet engine

    2. Uhhhh, why? It wasn’t the kind of performance we’re used to seeing from him, but that doesn’t mean he’s not one of the best drivers ever

      1. @fer-no65 the name “proud_asturian” seems to be the name that the former poster Jeorge Lardon now uses. He was the guy who constantly posted abuse against Alonso and anybody who had anything even slightly favourable to say about Alonso until he was eventually thrown off the site for his constant abusive behaviour, trolling and harassing other posters.

        He had this strange obsession with hating Alonso with a quite disturbing level of bile and anger, to the point where you really had to wonder why somebody would allow themselves to seemingly destroy themselves with such pointlessly venomous behaviour.

        1. We’ll get him, Anon.

    3. Alonso should try driving in Formula 1. At least he can’t finish lower than 20th :0P

    4. And this, my friend, is why you don’t burn bridges even if you’re being let down by a manufacturer.

    5. Hey man, I you are bothered enough by Alonso, or what people might be calling him, just go and make a forum topic about it. Apart from giving Dixon a tow for a while, there really isn’t much need to discuss Alonso today.

      I’d say that Alonso stepping into this race without much preparation, without racing any serious cars for a while now and without super experienced teammates to help overcome some of those hurdles made it more or less to be expected that he wouldn’t be in the mixt for the win by a long shot this year. Just like nobody sane is expecting him to win the Australian GP in 2021 with Renault. Not because he isn’t still a great driver, and certainly not because of what he’s already achieved in the past. But rather because he won’t be ina position where that is possible.

      1. Alsonso still finished And got his best Indy result so far.

    6. Imagine being this bitter just because Alonso is still better than your favourite driver.

    7. Alonso is a great driver.

  2. Well let’s all celebrate Taku’s achievement instead :)

    1. Taku had a hell of a drive and would have beaten Dixon on track even without that yellow at the end. Great job and now a two-time winner at that. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy, really.

    2. He earned it. He sure sticks it out there. Fearless. And 2 wins at Indy solidifies his talent. Maldonado would like to know his secret.

    3. I think Sato’s 2017 Indy 500 win was better, because it ran all the way to the chequered flag. Races that finish under yellow or red flags leave me with a feeling of unfinished business. Otherwise, it was a good race in general, congrats to Takuma Sato, the new two-time Indy 500 champ (that sounds sweet), and too bad for Rinus Van Kalmthout (“Veekay”).

      1. And too bad for Alexander Rossi. Somewhere, I feel bad for him, but it is what it is right now.

        Can’t wait for next year, generally speaking.

  3. Well, I’d say first of all great job from Dallara (and RB tech etc.) to make the cars withstand some really havy impacts without seemingly any serious injuries to the drivers.
    I’d say the aero screen did its job today. And What a drive from Sato to deny Dixon a win that seemed inevitable for mor or less the whole race until the last few laps laps.

    Shoutout to Alonso’s teammate O’Ward too. And their team for doing some really top notch pitstop work

  4. This tactic of not leading the race towards the end. Not sure it always works Scott.

    1. @david-br how is that an advantage? Surely tyre degradation is higher when your are following?

      1. It’s not about the tires as much as the fuel. The lead car has to fight more air, and therefore burns more fuel in the effort. The trailing car saves fuel running in the wake. Dixon’s strategy believed (and Sato alluded to the belief being correct) that Sato couldn’t make it to the end of the race at full throttle without running dry on fuel. Dixon, meanwhile had been hanging back saving fuel for a final sprint and overtake.

      2. @paeschli The tyres do wear a bit faster when following (Especially the last few years when they have brought tyres that wear a little faster than in the past) but when your in the tow you can save some fuel which can allow you to turn the engine up more towards the end of the race. It was a bigger issues this year as the new Aeroscreen creates a bit of extra drag which means cars were using a bit more fuel in clean air.

        Yesterday Ganassi were of the view that Sato didn’t have enough fuel to run full power to the end & that they themselves were marginal. There plan was to save a bit of fuel behind Sato for a few laps (Dixon is a master at saving fuel while maintaining good speed, Has won him many races over the years) which would then give them enough fuel to run full rich over the final 2-3 laps when they believed Sato would have to start saving or potentially run out.

      3. Thanks for introducing me to oval racing strategies 101 @jjroney225 @stefmeister

  5. Exciting race. Less unpredictable as F1 races.

  6. Watched this for first time start to finish..jesus christ…the crashes in this indycar 500 race are spectacular ..to say the least…Alonzo is just a shadow of his real self..he was a no show after he crashed in practice or was it qualification race last week ..not really sure.

  7. The commercials on NBC were out of hand. They even did their own commercials after the commercials. My god…my brain hurts after that. Great race though!

  8. Nell (@imabouttogoham)
    24th August 2020, 8:16

    Sato’s got to go down as one of Japan’s best drivers of all time, until the first Japanese F1 world champion.

    1. Kamui Kobayashi has the potential to best him IMHO. He just needs a 24h of Le Mans win and can then switch to Indycar.

  9. The biggest takeaway for me from the Indy 500 was the experience of the official App which I used for the first time. In my humble opinion F1 should take a cue from this. I could watch onboard, see basic telemetry such as speed, rpm, steering angle, throttle/break and hear all the radio exchange between any driver and team throughout the length of the 200 laps. And best of all everything was for free.

  10. I tried but just couldn’t enjoy the broadcast mostly due to the amount (and length) of commercials during green flags. They’re hard enough to stomach during yellow, but hey, caution periods are also really really long.
    I also don’t like the amount of pitstops. Maybe without so many stops we could see a bit more strategy on track. With that I mean, I liked the Dixon and Rossi leapfrogging to try and lose Askew, which worked. And with less stops we could see the leaders navigating back markers more, I liked Sato being stuck for a moment with Dixon and Rahal closing in. I also wasn’t exactly captivated by any of the commenters/pundits.
    All in all I don’t think I’ll watch more races

  11. Just glad Sato looked to be the certain winner without teammate Pigot’s crash that ended the race under yellow yellow or people might be wondering if Indy now had a crashgate.

    1. Hoosier If that crash was intentional then he literally risked his life to benefit his team. Hit the outside wall at what, over 200mph? Then came back across and hit the pit lane divider still going over 100mph. It was brutal – hardly the same as a relatively low speed crash that Piquet did where he could be 99% certain of suffering no serious injuries

      Besides which, aren’t all the radio calls monitored and available to the public? Without a specific instruction from the team, he presumably would have no idea what the situation at the front was and whether a safety car or red flag would benefit Sato or not. As I understand it a red flag was just as likely as a yellow, and that might have worked against Sato.

      I’m no Indy expert, so maybe I missed something, or maybe you’re just trying to stir the pot. But all things considered this looks extremely unlikely to be a planned crash imo.

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