33 drivers lined up for the 101st Indy 500 but it was only one, Takuma Sato who emerged victorious. Sato’s win is important in a number of ways. Personally, it is vindication for Sato as he nearly won the race back in 2012 but was narrowly (and famously) edged out by Dario Franchitti for the win. However, on a bigger scale Sato’s win is historic as he is the first Japanese driver to win the Indy 500 in its now 101 year history.
To make things even more patriotic for the Japanese driver, he won the race in a car powered by a Japanese engine (Honda), and with a Japanese main sponsor (Panasonic).
Takuma’s victory was a much needed result for Honda as things were starting to go south for the manufacturer in the second half of the race.
Honda was looking strong all month and 7 out of the top 10 drivers on the grid were powered by Honda engines. However, towards the tail end of the race some of the front running Honda drivers had to bow out due to engine failures.
Namely Ryan Hunter-Reay’s car completely let go on him on lap 137. Then, in a turn of cruel irony, Fernando Alonso’s Honda-powered car failed on lap 180. With Chevy drivers like Helio Castroneves hot on the heels of the front running Honda-powered drivers, it would be a disaster for Honda to have dominated all month only to have a Chevy car ultimately win the race.
Luckily for Honda, Takuma Sato had been on a mission for the entire race and his team’s strategy played out perfectly. Helio Castroneves was still a major threat and the two drivers traded the lead more than a few times during the last 5 laps or so.
In the end it was Sato who took the checkered flag getting revenge for his narrow loss in 2012 and making history for his fellow countrymen. Helio Castroneves took second place and Ed Jones nabbed the third spot.
For highlights check out the video below.