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INDYCAR: Sato holds off Dixon to win the Indy 500

INDYCAR Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
• Sato takes home a second Indy 500 win

Speedway, IN, Aug 23/20 (GRW): A late race crash, which saw the final five laps of the race run behind the pace car, played into Takuma Sato’s hands and gave him the race win – his second win here in the past four years. Scott Dixon was playing a fuel conservation strategy, letting Sato lead where he would burn off his fuel faster in hopes that Sato would have to slow or stop for fuel before the final run was completed, handing over the lead and the win to Dixon.

But, when Spencer Pigot crashed heavily into the end of the pit lane barrier, bringing out the caution with just five laps to go, Dixon’s hopes were dashed. Despite some commentary that they should have red-flagged the race NASCAR-style and then restarted it for a final four-lap shootout, race control let the race run out behind the pace car to the finish.

PHOTO INDYCAR SATO MILKSato takes the traditional drink of milk on the Victory Podium ((Chris Owens/INDYCAR)

“The fuel strategy was a bit tight,” Sato said. “I saw Scott was coming right through out of Turn 4, and he was screaming coming at me. And I just held him off.

“This was the entire Rahal Letterman Lanigan team, HPD and Honda gave us a lot of power, a lot fuel mileage. And my boys … they sacrifice a lot. I can’t thank all of the people (enough).”

This finish was set up when the final scheduled round of pit stops took place. Dixon pitted out of the lead on lap 169 of the 200-lap race. After this, both Sato and Dixon were going to be close on fuel trying to get to the finish without another pit stop. Dixon – by plan or by chance – came out behind Sato where, by running in Sato’s wake, he could save fuel while the front-runner burned his fuel faster. We will never know if Dixon’s strategy would have paid off given the premature end to the racing.

“This is a hard one to swallow,” Dixon said. “On fuel mileage, I really can’t see how they were going to make it. We pitted a lap later, and the numbers they had to get, it was going to be very difficult.”

Given the violence of his crash and the fact that he was shaken up after the accident, Pigot was taken to a local hospital to be checked out. Later on Sunday, we got an update. “Spencer Pigot has been examined and discharged by doctors at Methodist Hospital."

Marco Andretti had turned heads when he was the fastest qualifier on both days, putting his car on the pole and reviving talk of the Andretti ‘curse’ and of Marco’s hopes of winning the big race. In the race he lost the lead going into the first corner and never led a lap, finishing in 13th place.

With the field frozen after Pigot’s crash, the official top-five finishing order was Sato, Dixon, Graham Rahal, Santino Ferrucci and Josef Newgarden. Eighteen of the 33 starters completed all 200 laps of the race.

Two Canadian drivers started the race. James Hinchcliffe started in sixth place and finished a solid seventh. Dalton Kellett from Stouffville, Ontario qualified in 24th place but he crashed out of the race on lap 83 and he was credited with 31st in the final standings.

The Spanish F1 driver Fernando Alonso had qualified in ninth place in the ‘McLaren’; he finished in 21st, one lap down. Alonso has signed on with the Renault F1 team for next year and they have let it be known that, while he is driving for them, he will not be allowed to run at Indianapolis, so it looks like his hopes of achieving the ‘triple crown’ of Monaco GP winner, Le Mans winner and Indy 500 winner will never come to pass.

• Click HERE for the results of this year’s ‘Indy 500'

• The next INDYCAR car will be held as the first half of a doubleheader (August 29 & 30) at the Gateway Raceway near St. Louis next weekend.

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