MADISON, Ill – Saturday night was redemption for Takuma Sato. See, after being involved in the frightening Lap 1 crash last weekend at the Pocono Raceway, the Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing driver received a ton of criticism. Even with evidence supporting his case, the backlash was loud again him.
On the opening lap of Saturday night’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500, Sato was once again involved in a minor first lap mishap. He was bumrushed from behind and played it conservative. Despite that, he still had contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay again.
Both would continue on as Marcus Ericsson spun behind sparking a third straight year that we saw a first lap caution in Gateway. Sato, would fall three laps down early on but would unbelievably make that up. He took over the lead in fact on Lap 188 when the Dale Coyne Racing duo of Santino Ferrucci and Sebastien Bourdais hit pit lane.
Two laps later, Bourdais crashed in Turn 4 bringing out the fifth and final caution. That moment changed the way this field was set. If the yellow doesn’t fall, then the battle for the win is a fuel save battle between Bourdais, Ferrucci and Josef Newgarden. But, the caution came out and Sato had yet to pit as he pinned everyone with the exception of three other cars a lap down.
That allowed Sato, Tony Kanaan and Ed Carpenter to hit pit lane and still restart 1-2-3 as Newgarden would cycle to fifth behind Ferrucci.
From then on, it was a battle.
Sato, was never threated until the very end as he held off Carpenter by just 0.0399-seconds for his fifth career Indy Car win and second of the season. In fact, three of his five wins have now come with RLL including two this year. His other win came at the site of next weekend’s race in Portland.
Overall, this was definitely redemption for Sato and his No. 30 Honda team.
Carpenter, would finish second in his No. 20 Chevrolet for his best finish since last year’s Indy 500. The Indiana native passed Kanaan with two laps remaining and set his sights on Sato from then on. He had the faster car but needed one more lap.
Kanaan, finished third in his No. 14 Chevrolet for his first podium since Texas in 2017.
Ferrucci would finish fourth in his No. 19 Honda as Simon Pagenaud rounded out the top five in a wild race under the lights in St. Louis.
The top points contenders pretty much all had problems on Saturday night. Rossi’s gear box had to be changed minutes before the command to fire engines. Then, he was on the wrong end of strategy in the end as he had to pit for his final stop with 19 to go and finish 14th. That comes after finishing 18th last weekend too.
Fifth place in the standings Will Power crashed out on Lap 52 when he was trying to battle his teammate Newgarden for what would have been the lead in the middle of the first pit sequence. See, Power had just pitted and had cold tires. He looked high and got too far out of the groove and found the Turn 4 SAFER barrier. He’d go from first last week to last this weekend.
While under caution, fourth place in the standings Scott Dixon had his radiator go out. He’d have to go to the garage for his crew to make a chance as he’d later get back out on track to gain a position but call it quits towards the end when he couldn’t make up any more ground.
Finally, Newgarden had a problem on the final lap and would fall from fifth to seventh. That allowed Pagenaud to finish ahead of him for the fourth time in the last five races and take more points off the deficit.
Pagenaud, moves to second in the standings, 38 points out.
Bommarito Automotive Group 500 Results
19 Ferrucci R
88 Herta R
10 Rosenqvist R
5 Hinchcliffe -1
27 Rossi -1
26 Veach -1
23 Kimball -1
7 Ericsson R -1
4 Leist -2
15 Rahal OUT
18 Bourdais OUT
9 Dixon OUT
21 Pigot OUT
12 Power OUT