Sato Seizes Redemption With Gateway Victory

Takuma Sato kept Team Penske from winning every oval race in 2019 in a dramatic edition of the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 near St. Louis.

A lucky break with a pit stop under caution gave Takuma Sato the lead heading into the final restart at World Wide Technology Raceway, propelling the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver to his second NTT IndyCar Series victory of 2019.

Sato took the lead for the first time on Lap 188 when the leading Dale Coyne Racing cars of Santino Ferrucci and Sebastien Bourdais pitted together. Two laps later, Bourdais spun in Turn 4 and brought out the race’s final yellow flag. The resulting 13-lap caution began and ended with Sato in the race lead, despite his No. 30 Honda visiting pit lane for service.

Sato led Tony Kanaan when the race returned to green-flag running on Lap 205 and managed to stretch his lead to as much as 2.2 seconds but then got held up by lapped traffic, allowing both Kanaan and third-place runner Ed Carpenter to close in. Carpenter used the tightening of the top three to pass Kanaan for second and then began his pursuit of Sato.

Over the final four laps, Carpenter cut into Sato’s lead, which stood at 0.2198 seconds at the white flag. One lap later, the two crossed the finish line together with a mere 0.0399 seconds of separation — the closest Indy car finish at World Wide Technology Raceway.

The victory marked Sato’s fifth career Indy car win and the 28th for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Carpenter’s second-place finish comes as his first podium of the year. Kanaan, who held onto third thanks to a fight for the fourth position between Santino Ferrucci and Josef Newgarden, also earned his first top-three finish of the year.

Ferrucci’s fourth-place finish almost didn’t happen when he went high and got into the marbles on the final lap. His return to the racing line occurred just as Newgarden was attempting an inside pass in Turn 4, sending Newgarden into the grass and into a spin, dropping him to seventh and moving Simon Pagenaud and Conor Daly into the top six.

Behind Newgarden, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Colton Herta and Marco Andretti completed the top 10, creating an even split between Honda and Chevrolet in the group.

A late-race pit stop for championship challenger Alexander Rossi under green-flag conditions dropped him off the lead lap and down the running order to 13th.

Further down the final results were Bourdais — ranked 19th after his crash — and Scott Dixon, Spencer Pigot and Will Power in positions 20 through 22. Pigot and Power were out after single-car incidents while Dixon retired after debris damaged the No. 9 Honda’s radiator early in the race.

With both Rossi and Dixon finishing behind him, Newgarden retained his championship lead, now with 563 points to his name. Pagenaud’s fifth-place result vaulted him to second at 38 points behind Newgarden. Rossi’s mid-pack finish put him 46 points back while Dixon’s retirement dropped him to 70 points back, heightening his underdog challenge at capturing his sixth IndyCar title with two races left.

The series will be back in action Sept. 1 at Portland International Raceway for the penultimate race of the season. The Grand Prix of Portland is set for 12:35 p.m. PDT with live coverage on NBC.

Ben Hinc
Ben Hinchttp://www.benhinc.com
Ben's executive editor title is purposefully broad to encompass the bottomless list of roles he fills for The Apex, which includes webmaster, graphic designer, quality consultant and writer. Ben's technical background and progressive media distribution approach set The Apex apart technologically and philosophically.

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