It is therefore Spencer Pigot who will have decided the fate of the 104th edition of the 500 Miles of Indianapolis, Sunday. The American driver was never at the forefront but his violent exit from the track (he hit the separator between the track and the pits), five laps from the finish, offered the victory on a plateau to Takuma. Sato (Rahal Letterman).
The Japanese, who had already won in 2017, took the lead twenty-five laps from the finish, overtaking Scott Dixon (Chip-Ganassi), leader for most of the race. And without this slow-moving end of the race, Sato (whose teammate Graham Rahal finished 3rd) would not have had enough fuel to reach the finish. « I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it », he repeated on a podium much quieter than usual in the absence of the public. He confirmed : “We were a bit tight on the strategy, so I couldn’t use maximum power all the time. And every time I saw Scott tumble down at the exit of turn 4, I pressed as hard as possible … «
Dixon, who had arguably the fastest car, was showing double regret. First, to have hesitated when he had an opportunity to regain the lead with less than ten laps from the end. He told himself that time was on his side. « It’s hard to swallow, recognized the New Zealander, winner here in 2008, because we’re having a great day. I don’t know how Sato could have gotten there on the gasoline level because he had stopped a lap earlier than us and according to our calculations he could not do it (under green flag). «
Takuma Sato is the 20th pilot to win the Indianapolis 500 multiple times. He is the first Asian to achieve this feat after 13 Americans, 3 South Americans and 3 Europeans.
The other disappointment is that the race management did not impose a red flag after the exit of Pigot to restart the race once the track has been cleaned. “This is the first time that I have seen the organization let the race end like this. I really thought there would be a red flag … It’s hard when you get lost like that … « , Dixon whispered. The only positive point for him is that he strengthens his lead in the Championship (+84 over Josef Newgarden) in the quest for his sixth Indycar title.
Simon Pagenaud did not really have the opportunity to defend his title. Starting 25th, the Frenchman of Team Penske saw his attempt to come back up short on lap 132 after a small collision with Ryan Hunter-Reay who broke his front wing after having crushed it at the exit of turn 1. He rallied the finish two laps behind in 22nd position, despite his 28 overtaking on the track, the second highest total behind Santino Ferrucci (Dale Coyne Racing, 4th at the finish). Fernando Alonso (Arrow McLaren SP), never in the game, finished 21st and will therefore not complete the triple crown of motorsport before 2023 at best.
In general, as in practice and qualifying, Honda engines proved to be much more efficient than Chevrolets (unlike last year) taking the first four places and eight positions in the top 10. This does not ‘did not benefit the Andretti team which had achieved pole with Marco Andretti but which does not place any car in the top 6.