MADISON, IL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Takuma Sato went from zero to hero in less than a week on the NTT IndyCar Series circuit.
Sato won Saturday night’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, one week after fellow IndyCar drivers, fan and media blamed Sato for a multi-car crash on lap one at Pocono Raceway.
Sato started fifth on the grid and on the first lap in turn 1 had contact with another car and fell to last place but never gave up and rallied to a 0.0399-second victory over owner/driver Ed Carpenter.
“A difficult start,” said Sato. “I was sandwiched, then go backwards.”
Sato called the victory the most satisfying win of his career, next to the 2017 Indianapolis 500 win.
“This win is so special,” said Sato. “Beside Indy 500, nothing like it. Last week, it was very difficult to judge. A lot of people judged from only TV, one angle. It looked like I turned into Alex, which wasn’t true. The team got logging system, onboard footage, that shows very clear evidence I wasn’t move. I hold my line, I drove straight.”
The RLL team stood behind the veteran driver in the week between Pocono and Gateway, going as far as issuing a statement of support after all of the backlash. Sato was glad his team had his back and he paid them back with a victory.
“It is just unbelievable support from the team,” said Sato. “I’m so happy. So proud to be a part of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Some people say they never seen do that kind of statement.”
Carpenter rebounded from a less than stellar qualifying effort to needing a couple of hundred feet to win.
“Even just another straightaway, I maybe could have gotten Takuma,” said Carpenter, who started 17th. “We were really good on the long runs. We kept our heads down and never gave up.”
AJ Foyt Racing’s Tony Kanaan, who started 20th, rounded out the podium with a third-place finish.
“We knew we had a strong car,” said Kanaan. “We played the strategy right, we got a little bit of luck on our side – finally – and once we got to the front, we showed the that we belong there.”
Points-leader Josef Newgarden finished seventh but his closest pursuer, Alexander Rossi, finished 13th allowing fifth-place finisher Simon Pagenaud to leapfrog Rossi in the Championship standings. Newgarden leads Pagenaud by 38-points going into the next weekend’s Grand Prix of Portland.
INDYCAR Community Reacts To No Fans At Indy 500
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The INDYCAR community is reacting to the news that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has decided to run the Indy 500 on August 23 without fans in attendance. The decision is a reversal of a plan set forth a few weeks ago where the event would be run in front of 25-percent of the capacity of the Speedway.
Speedway President J. Douglas Boles, who has been a guest on The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast, is appreciative of his team and the fans:
Heartbroken for my fellow fans. Proud of the @IMS team that has worked thousands of hours to make the race happen with spectators. Even through end of yesterday we were working on setting up to open the gates. Thankful for Roger’s passion, commitment & leadership in these times. https://t.co/I7TadsP2sd
— J. Douglas Boles (@jdouglas4) August 4, 2020
Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Graham Rahal took to social media to make some great points:
Today’s news brought lots of mixed emotions, but we’ve got to do what is necessary for our fans & community’s health & safety now in order to keep this sport & race alive for generations to come. It won’t be the same without you all on 8/23, but we’ll be back strong in 2021.(2/2) pic.twitter.com/hL2ITFB27W
— Graham Rahal (@GrahamRahal) August 4, 2020
Spencer Pigot who drives for Steelers minority owner Rob Citrone and Robbie Buhl’s team Citrone Buhl Autosport with RLL also took to Twitter to express his feelings:
It's going to look and feel a lot different this year but it's still the Indy 500 and we will be giving it our all to entertain the fans watching from home! Looking forward to seeing you all back at the track next year. #Indy500 https://t.co/MPy4X1RsSK
— Spencer Pigot (@SpencerPigot) August 4, 2020
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Ericsson also weighed in:
Regarding the #Indy500 news, it’s a shame we cannot race in front of all you amazing fans! But I trust and believe @IndyCar have made the right call, safety always comes first. We will do everything to make it a great show for you all watching on the TVs back home #INDYCAR #ME8
— Marcus Ericsson (@Ericsson_Marcus) August 4, 2020
Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Real and Alexander Rossi, two former 500 winners had this to say:
This is disappointing to say the least. Our sport, especially the Indy 500, is based on our fans. No doubt these are unprecedented times. With that said, Roger Penske & his team @IndyCar are simply doing what is necessary for the well being of our fans. https://t.co/o55xeCvVqy
— Ryan Hunter-Reay (@RyanHunterReay) August 4, 2020
— Alexander Rossi (@AlexanderRossi) August 4, 2020
Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden, who’s boss owns the Speedway has a great idea:
Can’t imagine how tough this decision must have been. It won’t be the same without everyone at @IMS , but it’s still the Greatest Spectacle In Racing. Tell your friends to tune in, post on social & tell the world to tune in. Let’s make this the most watched race ever. #Indy500 pic.twitter.com/a0ZadLYyuP
— Josef Newgarden (@josefnewgarden) August 4, 2020
Not the news we all wanted to hear and can’t imagine how tough it was to make. Gutted for every single fan. Now, let’s all work together and get EVERYONE tuned into this race on August 23rd! #Indy500 pic.twitter.com/kChEZMMO82
— Jack Harvey (@jack_harvey42) August 4, 2020
Super bummed to hear we won’t be seeing all of the amazing fans in these seats this year. Hoping to make you all proud on the big screen on Aug. 23rd at the greatest spectacle in racing. Let’s make this one to remember. #WIXIndy #INDYCAR @DRRIndyCar @WIXFilters @JusticeBrosInc pic.twitter.com/6ywkkz85Ag
— Sage Karam (@SageKaram) August 4, 2020
— Ed Carpenter (@edcarpenter20) August 4, 2020
Stay tuned to Pittsburgh Racing Now for updated comments from the INDYCAR Community
No Fans At Indianapolis 500 in 2020
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is cancelling plans to have fans at the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 mile race.
“It is with great regret that we announce the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 will take place on Aug. 23 without fans. This tough decision was made following careful consideration and extensive consultation with state and city leadership” the Speedway said in a statement.
“As dedicated as we were to running the race this year with 25 percent attendance at our large outdoor facility, even with meaningful and careful precautions implemented by the city and state, the COVID-19 trends in Marion County and Indiana have worsened. Since our June 26 announcement, the number of cases in Marion County has tripled while the positivity rate has doubled. We said from the beginning of the pandemic we would put the health and safety of our community first, and while hosting spectators at a limited capacity with our robust plan in place was appropriate in late June, it is not the right path forward based on the current environment.”
The Speedway is closing all on-track activity to the general public, including practice and qualifications. Ticket holders will be credited for the 2021 Indianapolis 500 and will retain their seniority and their originally assigned seats.
News from #IMS:
It is with great regret that we announce the Indianapolis 500 will take place on August 23 without fans. This tough decision was made following careful consideration and extensive consultation with state and city leadership.
— Indianapolis Motor Speedway (@IMS) August 4, 2020
The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast – Episode 15 – Aaron Reutzel, Matthew Dillner, Chip Ganassi and more!
PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The latest edition of The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast features the 2-time and defending Champion of the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 Aaron Reutzel. We also talk to Matthew Dillner of Dirty Mo Media about the new show he co-hosts with Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chip Ganassi takes his own trip down memory lane and we hear from Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials about safety protocols in place at this year’s Indy 500.