Ex-Formula One driver Takuma Sato secured victory for Andretti Autosport at the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 as Fernando Alonso retired with an engine failure.
Sato secured his – and Japan’s – first Indy 500 win at his eighth attempt at the Brickyard after emerging victorious from an 11-lap battle with three-time winner Hélio Castroneves, rookie Ed Jones and Max Chilton.
Following several caution periods -one of which for a late four-car crash – the four drivers emerged as the front-runners after running slightly different pit strategies.
Fernando Alonso – along with ex-F1 driver and last year’s Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi – were front-runners throughout, but the McLaren driver’s engine failed whilst running in seventh place with 21 laps to go.
The Spanish driver had lead 27 of the 200 laps at Indianapolis, and his race retirement resulted in a standing ovation from the 300,000 spectators.
The only driver to lead more laps was Chip Ganassi’s Chilton, who lead the race after the final restart, but was powerless to keep Sato, Castroneves and Jones from passing.
The first-half of the race saw a spectacular crash for Chip Ganassi’s Scott Dixon: After Jay Howard (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports) ran wide and crashed into the barrier, Dixon was powerless to avoid the stay car, and the the collision launched him into the air.
Despite a huge impact with the inside barrier, Dixon emerged unscathed.
The results of the qualifying and race for the Indy 500 have boosted the championship efforts of both Castroneves and Sato. Castroneves now leads the IndyCar championship by 11 points over Simon Pagenaud, Sato and Dixon.
Sato raced with Jordan, BAR-Honda and Super Aguri over a seven-year period, securing his best result of third place at the 2004 US Grand Prix at Indianapolis.