INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Takuma Sato held off a furious late charge from Helio Castroneves to win the 101st Indianapolis 500.
Sato, 40, is the first Japanese driver to win the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. Fearless down the stretch, he made amends for the 2012 race in which he crashed late, paving the way for Dario Franchitti to take the checkered flag.
The race was marred with several cautions, including a scary crash in which pole sitter Scott Dixon went airborne. He was medically cleared and released after walking away from the crash, which also involved Jay Howard, who was making his return to IndyCar after six years.
The race was red flagged after the wreck as crews inspected and repaired the wall and cleaned debris from the track. By the end of the race, only 19 cars remained on the track, with the other 14 involved in crashes or retired from the race due to mechanical problems.
Another crash put Conor Daly out of the race after he hit the wall. Jack Harvey got caught up in the debris and had to exit the race.
Buddy Lazier, who won the Indy 500 in 1996, hit the wall in Turn 2 and spun out, ending his day at the track.
Ryan Hunter-Reay, who’d looked strong all day and opened up a 3.5-second lead at one point, left the race after his engine blew. It was just the start of trouble for a handful of drivers with Honda engines.
Another caution came late in the race when Charlie Kimball’s engine blew. Zach Veach’s car was also pushed off the track at the same time.
With things winding down, F1 driver Fernando Alonso, who’d run very well in his Indy 500 debut, left the race after his engine–another Honda–blew. After that restart with 17 laps to go, a crash involving multiple cars ended the day for Will Power, James Hinchcliffe, James Davison and Oriol Servia, bringing out another caution.
That set the stage for a furious late finish involving Max Chilton, Helio Castroneves, Takuma Sato and rookie Ed Jones. Castroneves got past Chilton but couldn’t hold off Sato, who passed Castroneves late. Castroneves, hungry for his fourth Indy 500 victory, couldn’t pass Sato despite a late charge.
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