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Taku gets Indianapolis 500 win #2

Photo by Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media

In front of a crowd of far fewer people than when he first won in 2017, Takuma Sato faced a far greater challenge in winning the 2020 Indianapolis 500 than he had in 2017.

Sato took the lead from Scott Dixon on Lap 158 as Dixon tried to save fuel before the final pit stop of the race. Although Dixon came out ahead of Sato after he pitted on Lap 170, Sato passed Dixon on Lap 175 and cycled out to the lead after Zach Veach pitted on Lap 185.

Although Sato pulled away to a one-second lead after passing Dixon, Sato faced lap traffic on Lap 192 –just eight laps to go– which cut the advantage down to just three tenths of a second. In time, Sato got through lap traffic and was then blessed with a Lap 196 caution for Spencer Pigot’s hard crash that ended the race under caution, securing a second Borg-Warner trophy for Sato.

Scott Dixon finished second and led the most laps in the Indianapolis 500, at 111 of 200, for the fifth time in 18 Indy 500s. It was also the first time he had led the most laps in the 500 since 2015 and 111 laps was the most he led in a 500 since he led 118 of 200 laps en route to winning in 2008.

For much of the day, Dixon was challenged by Alexander Rossi, to whom he traded the lead with nine times between laps 103 and 121 as the two drivers mulled fuel mileage with the end of the race in sight.

However, lap 122 caution for Alex Palou crashing on the exit of turn 1 would seal Rossi’s fate. Rossi exited his pit stall almost directly in front of an oncoming Takuma Sato and was charged with an unsafe pit release penalty that dropped him to the rear of the field. Rossi worked his way up to 17th but stalled out, dropping back to 18th. It was while running 18th that Rossi got loose off of turn two and hit the wall, ending his day on lap 144. Rossi finished 27th.

The race started with Marco Andretti on the pole, which was the first time an Andretti had led the field to the green flag for the Indianapolis 500 since 1987 when Mario Andretti won the pole for the 500.

It would not last long for Marco as second-place starter Scott Dixon quickly took the lead and pulled out to a one-second advantage by the end of lap 1. Dixon was followed by Ryan Hunter-Reay, who started fifth but quickly worked his way up to second.

The opening stages of the race saw a couple incidents and cautions fall quickly. Ed Carpenter was forced into the wall by Zach Veach on lap two of the race, forcing Carpenter to be out of the race until lap 19. On lap 6, James Davison bursted a right front rotor in a bizarre incident on the backstretch, bringing out the first caution. On lap 25, Marcus Ericsson crashed off of turn 1, bringing out the second caution.

Oliver Askew and Simon Pagenaud, who pitted during the first caution, restarted in the lead on lap 32, after Dixon and other frontrunners pitted. Pagenaud quickly took the lead before pitting on lap 46. Dixon eventually re-took to the race lead on lap 48 when Will Power and Charlie Kimball pitted.

Pit stops soon occurred among the frontrunners between laps 61 and 66. Zach VeeKay ran up front prior to pit stops but had a pit road error on lap 64 that warranted a stop-and-go penalty on lap 70, taking him out of contention for the 500.

Dixon cycled back to the race lead ahead of Oliver Askew on lap 66, with Askew pitting on lap 80. Dixon held the lead as the third caution fell on lap 85 for Dalton Kellett hitting the wall in turn three after running wide.

On the restart, Askew was knocked out of contention when he spun and hit the wall hard off of turn four coming to get the green, as Conor Daly also spun. Askew had the wind knocked out of him but was okay, along with Daly.

On the lap 100 restart, Dixon led but met his first challenge from Alexander Rossi on lap 103 when Rossi took the lead. Dixon and Rossi traded the lead eight more times until Rossi took it back on lap 121, just one lap before Alex Palou crashed, bringing out the fifth caution of the race.

On the lap 132 restart, Dixon’s teammate, Felix Rosenqvist, was in the lead but Dixon took it back on lap 133, holding it to the sixth caution on lap 144, this time for Rossi’s crash.

Dixon restarted in the lead again on lap 155 but Sato mounted a challenge on lap 158 to take the lead in the first glimpse at his race-winning speed of the day. Another round of pit stops occurred between laps 168 and 175 which cycled Dixon out to the lead ahead of Sato. However, Sato charged ahead of Dixon on lap 175 to get ahead of Dixon for the final time, leading to Sato’s second Indianapolis 500 victory.

Sato has now won the Indianapolis 500 with two different owners: Andretti Autosport in 2017 and Rahal-Letterman Racing in 2020. For Rahal-Letterman Racing, Sato’s team, it is their second Indianapolis 500 victory and their first since winning with Buddy Rice in 2004.

The top 10 finishers were as follows: Takuma Sato, Scott Dixon, Graham Rahal, Santino Ferrucci, Josef Newgarden, Pato O’Ward (Rookie), James Hinchcliffe, Colton Herta, Jack Harvey, Ryan Hunter-Reay

Pole sitter Marco Andretti finished 13th while F1 champion Fernando Alonso finished 21st in what’s expected to be his final Indianapolis 500 for at least two years, as Alonso will be racing full-time in F1 next season.

The next race for the NTT INDYCAR Series will be August 29 at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway (3 p.m. ET; TV: NBCSN).


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