Indy 500: Sato wins after thrilling shootout with Castroneves

Takuma Sato became the third Indy 500 winner for Andretti Autosport in four years after defeating Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves in an 11-lap shootout, while Fernando Alonso retired from seventh place when his engine blew.

Indy 500: Sato wins after thrilling shootout with Castroneves

The #26 Andretti Autosport car crossed the line 0.2011sec ahead of Castroneves with Ed Jones claiming third for Dale Coyne Racing after a brilliant drive. 2008 winner Scott Dixon survived a horrific shunt from which he was lucky to emerge only lightly injured.

At the drop of the first green flag, Team Penske-Chevrolet’s Will Power made the most impressive start, springing from ninth on the grid to take second behind Scott Dixon, although Ed Carpenter repassed Power at the start of Lap 2, and a lap later Tony Kanaan got past too.

Behind them, Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi held fifth ahead of Hildebrand’s ECR-Chevy Marco Andretti, Sato, Alonso and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

At the start of Lap 5, Kanaan made it a Ganassi 1-2, and on Lap 6, TK was into the lead, and Rossi, Carpenter, Hildebrand and Andretti were ahead of Power.

At the start of Lap 10, Alonso passed Power for eighth spot and fellow Andretti Autosport pair Sato and Hunter-Reay pushed the Penske driver down to 10th. Jones passed Power for 10th on Lap 15.

Kanaan led Dixon by 0.3sec, with Rossi a similar distance behind Dixon, and Carpenter, Hildebrand, Andretti, Alonso, Sato, Hunter-Reay and Jones all running approximately half a second apart. On Lap 19, however, Alonso moved into the top six, past teammate Andretti.

The majority of the Penske cars were at this point running 16th or below, as Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya and Simon Pagenaud ran in a train, with Josef Newgarden down in 22nd. 

On Lap 24, Sato passed Andretti for seventh, and on Lap 25 at Rossi passed Kanaan for second, and Alonso went round the outside of Hildebrand to grab fifth.

Carpenter then took advantage of Dixon’s lost momentum to grab third, and Dixon, clearly struggling with his lightly-downforced car now, lost fourth to Alonso.

Kanaan started the pitstops on Lap 28, and Rossi and Dixon followed suit a lap later, with Carpenter and Alonso in on Lap 30. Then Hildebrand stopped, having shuffled to the lead, and Montoya pitted from the lead but stalled.

Once everyone had gone through the pitstop cycle it was Carpenter barely holding off 2016 Indy winner Rossi, with Alonso, Kanaan, Sato, Hildebrand, Dixon, Hunter-Reay, Andretti and Power as the top 10.

Alexander Rossi passed Carpenter on Lap 35, and just a lap later, Alonso was past Carpenter. Then at the start of Lap 37, Alonso drafted past his teammate and into the lead.

Less obvious was that Sato was making his way forward, passing Kanaan for fourth, but was 0.7sec behind Carpenter.

Rossi resumed the lead on Lap 43, and Alonso was instructed to tuck in behind and save fuel, but Alonso took back the lead on Lap 48. When Rossi got delayed by Pippa Mann’s Dale Coyne car, Sato took a long hard look at passing his teammate into Turn 1, but wisely chose the cautious route and tucked in behind him.

Not far behind, the 2014 winner Hunter-Reay was moving forward and took fifth ahead of Kanaan, who soon also lost sixth to Hildebrand.

On Lap 53, Dixon had the greatest escape of his career, when Jay Howard’s Schmidt Peterson car bounced off the outside wall at Turn 1, and stumbled down the banking, right into the path of Dixon, who was launched high in the air and came down upside down on the SAFER barrier.

Castroneves, running 11th behind Power, ducked to the inside to avoid Howard’s car and ducked under the flying Ganassi car.

Immediately the race was yellow-flagged, and then had to be red flagged, as Dixon’s #9 had torn up the inside fencing. A photographer appeared to have sustained a minor injury.

When the race was restarted under yellow, and the pits were open, all the frontrunners pitted.

Alonso retained the lead ahead of Rossi and Sato, Carpenter, Hunter-Reay, Hildebrand, Kanaan, Andretti, Rahal, Pagenaud, Aleshin, Newgarden, Montoya and Sage Karam’s Dreyer & Reinbold Racing-Chevy.

Castroneves got repairs for damage sustained as he ran over the grass avoiding the Howard/Dixon wreck, and dropped to 22nd, while Power also had to have repairs from the debris, resulting in a long stop that dropped him to 23rd.

Although Alonso made a strong restart, Rossi passed him for the lead on Lap 61, on Lap 63, Sato also got past the McLaren Honda Andretti entry, and then Hunter-Reay demoted Alonso to fourth.

Sato took the lead from Rossi on Lap 65, and Hunter-Reay tried to follow but thought better of it at Turn 1.

On Lap 67, Conor Daly got caught up in a four-wide battle in the midfield, tried to go around the outside of Charlie Kimball’s car at Turn 3 that saw the AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet into the wall.

The sixth Andretti Autosport car of Jack Harvey spun trying to avoid a large piece of debris, and hit the inside wall. He narrowly avoided a Safety Truck that was pulling out to tend to Daly.

Under the yellow, Hinchcliffe stopped along with Power, Max Chilton and Zach Veach. Castroneves was assessed a drive-through penalty for passing cars before the green at the previous restart. The team stopped him for new tires too.

When the race resumed, Sato led Rossi, Hunter-Reay and Alonso in an Andretti Autosport 1-2-3-4 followed by Hildebrand, Carpenter Kanaan, Rahal, Andretti and Aleshin. Newgarden led the Penske charge in 11th with Montoya 13th, Pagenaud 14th and Power 21st following his most recent pitstop.

Rossi grabbed the race lead from Sato into Turn 1 at the drop of the green and Hunter-Reay motored past the #26 car the following lap. Kanaan ruined the Andretti Autosport symmetry with a very late move on Sato into Turn 1 to grab third the following lap, as Rahal moved past Carpenter for sixth.

However, a piece of debris from Andretti’s rear wing on the front straight brought out the yellow again on Lap 81.

Hunter-Reay lead a major charge into the pits, and with Power having had a recent top-up, he stayed out, along with Chilton and Castroneves. Out of pitlane, Hunter-Reay led Rossi, Alonso, Kanaan, Newgarden, Rahal and Sato.

Chilton grabbed the lead from Power at the restart as Hunter-Reay and then Rossi went around Castroneves. Down to Turn 3 on Lap 86, Power was passed by Hunter-Reay. Both Power and Castroneves started falling back and Hondas moved to the top, Hunter-Reay leading Rossi, Chilton, Alonso.

The Penske driver on the charge was Josef Newgarden who moved up to sixth ahead of Kanaan and Power on Lap 88 and soon Montoya was into the 10th spot.

Rossi took the lead from Hunter-Reay on Lap 90, but Chilton in third was initially able to resist Alonso –although their compromised line allowed Castroneves past both of them to grab third. On Lap 96, the three-time Indy 500 winner into Turn 1 grabbed the lead from his 2014 foe, Hunter-Reay.

Behind, Kanaan took fifth from teammate Chilton on Lap 97, while Rahal ran seventh ahead of the three Penske cars of Newgarden, Power and Montoya.

Rossi and Hunter-Reay swapped places and swapped back again as they ran in Castroneves’ wake but the #3 Penske pitted at the end of Lap 104, handing the lead back to Hunter-Reay. Chilton and Power stopped a lap later, and with Power barely holding off the leaders, Rossi and Hunter-Reay.

A lap earlier, Rahal went to the grass down the back straight to pass Alonso for third on Lap 110.

Rossi ducked into the pits on Lap 112, and the following lap Hunter-Reay, Alonso, Newgarden, Kanaan, Aleshin also stopped. Rahal pitted from the lead on Lap 114.

Following the pitstops, Hunter-Reay was 3.5sec ahead of the chasing pack, led by Rossi, Alonso, Castroneves, Power, Newgarden, Kanaan, Rahal, Sato and Chilton.

Alonso passed Rossi for second on Lap 120 into Turn 1.

Lap 122, Buddy Lazier hit the wall exiting Turn 2, bringing out the yellow, and a cautious Power let Kanaan and Sato up the inside.

Chilton, Hildebrand, Pagenaud, and Andretti took the opportunity to pit. Under yellow, Karam’s car ground to a halt and needed retrieving due to a dead battery.

Hunter-Reay led Alonso, Rossi, Castroneves, Kanaan, Sato, Power, Montoya and Newgarden at this point.

The Lap 129 restart saw Alonso go around the two lapped cars between himself and Hunter-Reay, and the following lap at Turn 1 he went around the outside of Hunter-Reay into Turn 1, but the yellow flew for debris on the front straight. Rahal, Sebastian Saavedra and Pagenaud ducked into the pits.

For the restart, Alonso led Hunter-Reay, Rossi, Castroneves, Kanaan, Sato, Newgarden, Oriol Servia in the second Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Honda entry, Power and Montoya.

The restart on Lap 135 saw Alonso hold onto the lead, but Hunter-Reay passed him down into Turn 3, although Alonso repassed him into Turn 1 next time by, and Rossi passed RHR for second into Turn 3.

Then Hunter-Reay’s engine blew on Lap 136 and Honda teams started looking nervous - and Andretti Autosport’s worries were compounded when Rossi dropped to P21 after stalling trying to leave the pitbox.

After the frontrunners pitted, Chilton, Kimball, Hildebrand, Davison, Rahal, Pagenaud, Jones and Andretti were elevated ahead of Alonso.

Kimball grabbed the lead from Chilton on the restart but behind them, Carpenter got sideways and broke his front wing on Aleshin’s right sidepod bringing out another caution to gather debris.

Alonso lost ground on that restart, so that the next restart would be Kimball, Chilton, Hildebrand, Davison, Rahal, Pagenaud, Jones, Andretti, Castroneves, Servia, Kanaan, Alonso, Montoya, Sato, Power, Hinchcliffe, Newgarden, Gabby Chaves, Rossi and Carpenter.

The green flag waved again at the end of Lap 147, and by the end of the lap, Chilton retook Kimball for the lead, and Davison then passed Hildebrand for third around the outside at Turn 1. Rahal had to make an emergency stop for a rear tire deflation on Lap 149.

Castroneves passed Hildebrand for fourth on Lap 151, while ahead Davison then went around the outside of Kimball to grab second for Dale Coyne Racing. The second DCR car of Jones was also holding down a solid sixth place, ahead of Servia, Kanaan, Alonso, Sato, Power and Andretti.

Kimball reclaimed second from Davison at Turn 1 on Lap 160, but then lost it again on Lap 163, as Sato passed Alonso for ninth and then got Kanaan for eighth.

Chilton dropped out of the lead and into the pits on Lap 166, leaving Davison in the lead, but on that lap Kimball’s engine detonated on the back straight and Veach retired the third Foyt car.

The pits opened on Lap 168, and the frontrunners dived in, leaving Chilton, Jones, Castroneves, Davison, Sato, Hildebrand, Kanaan, Servia, Alonso, Pagenaud, Power, Hinchcliffe, Montoya, Andretti and Newgarden as the top 15.

Two laps after the restart, Castroneves went around the outside of Jones at Turn 3, and Sato also moved forward to fourth ahead of Servia, but Castroneves lost second to Jones just a lap later in a brave maneuver by the rookie, while Sato also got in the mix.

Alonso was also on a charge, going around the outside of Kanaan at Turn 1, almost grabbing sixth from Hildebrand but wisely backing off. But it was all to no avail: on lap 179, Alonso's Honda engine blew.

The restart on Lap 184 had Chilton leading Sato, Castroneves, Jones, Servia, Hildebrand, Kanaan, Davison, Montoya, Hinchcliffe, Pagenaud, Power, Newgarden, Rossi and Andretti.

At the restart, Chilton held onto the lead ahead of Sato, but then Davison and Servia collided, Power swerved to avoid the shunt, and collided with Hinchcliffe, while Newgarden hit the wall in avoidance.

The race resumed with 11 laps to go with Sato all over Chilton, while Castroneves passed Jones for third. On lap 192 into Turn 3, he went round the outside of Sato to grab second and close up on Chilton.

With seven to go, Castroneves hit the front and Sato used Chilton’s lost momentum to grab second.

Next time by, Sato, grabbed the lead from Castroneves along the front straight, and the Chevy just didn’t have the grunt to get back ahead. The Brazilian veteran did his best but couldn’t get a strong enough run.

Sato held on for the remaining laps to become the 71st driver to score an Indy 500 win, while behind Castroneves and Jones, Chilton was the top Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda ahead of teammate Kanaan, and Montoya’s Penske entry held off Rossi for sixth.

Andretti, Chaves of debutant team Harding Racing and AJ Foyt Racing’s Carlos Munoz completed the Top 10.

Race results:

1 26 japan Takuma Sato  Andretti Autosport 200 3:13'03.3584  
2 3 brazil Helio Castroneves  Team Penske 200 0.2011  
3 19 united_arab_emirates Ed Jones  Dale Coyne Racing 200 0.5278  
4 8 united_kingdom Max Chilton  Chip Ganassi Racing 200 1.1365  
5 10 brazil Tony Kanaan  Chip Ganassi Racing 200 1.6472  
6 22 colombia Juan Pablo Montoya  Team Penske 200 1.7154  
7 98 united_states Alexander Rossi  Andretti Herta Autosport 200 2.4222  
8 27 united_states Marco Andretti  Andretti Autosport 200 2.5410  
9 88 colombia Gabby Chaves  Harding Racing 200 3.8311  
10 14 colombia Carlos Munoz  A. J. Foyt Enterprises 200 4.5319  
11 20 united_states Ed Carpenter  Ed Carpenter Racing 200 4.6228  
12 15 united_states Graham Rahal  Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 200 5.0310  
13 7 russia Mikhail Aleshin  Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 200 5.6993  
14 1 france Simon Pagenaud  Team Penske 200 6.0513  
15 17 colombia Sebastian Saavedra  Juncos Racing 200 12.6668  
16 21 united_states J.R. Hildebrand  Ed Carpenter Racing 199 1 lap  
17 63 united_kingdom Pippa Mann  Dale Coyne Racing 199 1 lap  
18 11 united_states Spencer Pigot  Juncos Racing 193 7 laps  
19 2 united_states Josef Newgarden  Team Penske 185 15 laps  
20 18 australia  James Davison  Dale Coyne Racing 183 17 laps Accident
21 16 spain Oriol Servia  Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 183 17 laps Accident
22 5 canada James Hinchcliffe  Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 183 12 laps Accident
23 12 australia Will Power  Team Penske 183 12 laps Accident
24 29 spain Fernando Alonso  McLaren Honda Andretti 179 21 laps Mechanical
25 83 united_states Charlie Kimball  Chip Ganassi Racing 166 34 laps Mechanical
26 40 united_states Zach Veach  A. J. Foyt Enterprises 155 45 laps Mechanical
27 28 united_states Ryan Hunter-Reay  Andretti Autosport 136 64 laps Mechanical
28 24 united_states Sage Karam  Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 125 75 laps Mechanical
29 44 united_states Buddy Lazier  Lazier Racing Partners 118 82 laps Accident
30 4 united_states Conor Daly  A. J. Foyt Enterprises 65 135 laps Accident
31 50 united_kingdom Jack Harvey  Michael Shank Racing 65 135 laps Accident
32 9 new_zealand Scott Dixon  Chip Ganassi Racing 52 148 laps Accident
33 77 united_kingdom Jay Howard  Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 45 155 laps Accident
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