Sato Claims First IndyCar Win at Long Beach
LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 21, 2013) - Takuma Sato became the first driver from Japan to win an Indy car race, prevailing in the 39th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. He was also the first Japanese driver to win at Long Beach, and the first to be on the podium in the race's 39-year history.
Sato, who started fourth in the 80-lap race on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn street circuit, provided A.J. Foyt Racing its first victory since July 7, 2002, at Kansas Speedway with Airton Dare behind the wheel. The last win for the team on a road/street course was by A.J. Foyt on Oct. 1, 1978, at Silverstone. Overall, A.J. Foyt Racing has 44 victories.
"Takuma made it look too easy," team director and race strategist Larry Foyt said. "It made me so nervous watching it out there. He just drove a flawless race."
Sato, making his 52nd IZOD IndyCar Series start, overtook Ryan Hunter-Reay for second on Lap 23 and assumed the point on Lap 30 when race leader Will Power pitted under yellow. The remainder of the race Sato's No. 14 ABC Supply car was strong on both the Firestone primary and alternate tires.
"It was just a perfect weekend to be honest," said Sato, whose previous best finish was second at Edmonton in 2012. "The team did a tremendous job. It is great news for the Japanese. Japan has had such a tough time after the earthquake. I'm really happy to give everybody some good news."
Sato led Graham Rahal across the finish line under caution. It was the best finish for Rahal since finishing second at Texas last June. Justin Wilson, who won that race at Texas Motor Speedway, advanced from the 24th starting position to finish third.
Sato is the third winner in as many IZOD IndyCar Series races this season and climbed to second in the championship standings. Helio Castroneves, who finished 10th, has a six-point lead heading into the May 5 race on the street circuit in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Honda-powered teams swept the podium for the first time this season.
TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH RACE RUNNING:
Lap 1: GREEN. #10 Franchitti leads the field into Turn 1. #9 Dixon spins in Turn 6 after contact with #55 Vautier. #9 Dixon continues with flat right rear tire.
IZOD IndyCar Series officials have penalized #55 Vautier with a drive through penalty for avoidable contact for lap 1 incident with #9 Dixon.
Lap 2: Dixon on pit road for four tires and fuel. FULL COURSE YELLOW. #6 Saavedra makes hard contact with wall at exit of Turn 9. Saavedra climbs from the car without assistance from the Holmatro Safety Team. #25 Andretti on pit road to replace the nosecone.
Lap 7: GREEN. #10 Franchitti leads the field into Turn 1. Hunter-Reay makes pass for the lead just past start-finish, but Franchitti retakes the lead at Turn 1.
This is also the first lap he has led since the season finale at Fontana last October. Since his return to the IndyCar Series in 2009, this is the most starts (3) at the beginning of the season he has gone before leading a lap.
Lap 10: #10 Franchitti leads #1 Hunter-Reay by .9390 of a second.
Medical update from Dr. Michael Olinger, INDYCAR medical director: Sebastian Saavedra has been checked and released from the infield care center. He is cleared to drive.
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 6 Dragon Racing Chevrolet): "It was a wild start. Battling with Simona there, I think she had some front damage, so I was taking advantage of it. Went into the corner and lost the control from the back and tried to catch it, and when I caught it I just went straight into the wall, one of those things. It's just an unfortunate situation, we've been strong throughout the weekend, we just needed a good finish and to try to bring the car home. It didn't happen. It feels very bad to be honest, we shouldn't have been in this situation. We'll keep working for the next."
Lap 12: #10 Franchitti leads #1 Hunter-Reay by 1.2493 seconds.#3 Castroneves on pit road for four tires and fuel. Crew also replaces the nosecone.
Lap 17: #10 Franchitti leads #1 Hunter-Reay by 1.7384 seconds.
Lap 19: #77 Pagenaud on pit road for four tires and fuel.
Lap 20: #10 Franchitti leads #1 Hunter-Reay by 1.9358 seconds.
Lap 22: #14 Sato passes #1 Hunter-Reay for second place in Turn 1.
Lap 23: #10 Franchitti leads #14 Sato by 2.9733 seconds.
Lap 26: #10 Franchitti leads #14 Sato by 1.3875 seconds.
Lap 28: #14 Sato, #1 Hunter-Reay on pit road for four tires and fuel.
Lap 29: Leader #10 Franchitti on pit road for four tires and fuel.
Lap 30: FULL COURSE YELLOW. #83 Kimball and #98 Tagliani in tire barriers in Turn 8. #55 Vautier on pit lane for four tires and fuel. Leader under caution is #12 Power.
Will Power has led in every race in 2013. This is the fourth consecutive season he had led in the first three races of the season.
Lap 31: Leader #12 Power on pit road for four tires and fuel. New leader is #14 Sato.
Lap 35: GREEN. #14 Sato leads the field into Turn 1. Behind there is an incident in Turn 1 between #27 Hinchcliffe and #11 Kanaan. #27 Hinchcliffe's car collects #5 Viso. FULL COURSE YELLOW. #5 Viso continues on course.
Takuma Sato is leading his first laps of the season. He last led at Auto Club Speedway in 2012.The last time an A.J. Foyt car has led a race since Texas in 2011.
Lap 36: #1 Hunter-Reay on pit road to repair damage. #5 Viso on pit road for repairs.
Lap 39: GREEN. #14 Sato leads the field into Turn 1.
Lap 40: #14 Sato leads #15 Rahal by 3.4781 seconds.
Lap 42: #14 Sato leads #15 Rahal by 4.2087 seconds.
Lap 44: #14 Sato leads #15 Rahal by 2.9603 seconds.
Lap 47: #14 Sato leads #15 Rahal by 1.6923 seconds
Lap 50: #1 Hunter-Reay is in the tire barrier in Turn 8. FULL COURSE YELLOW. Leader under caution is #14 Sato, #15 Rahal, #55 Vautier, #10 Franchtti and #19 Wilson.
Lap 51:Leaders on pit road for four tires and fuel. Sato wins the race off of pit road followed by #15 Rahal, #19 Wilson. #12 Power had contact on pit road with #55 Vautier. There is right rear damage on #12 Power.
Lap 52: #2 Allmendinger is off course in Turn 5.
Lap 56: GREEN. #14 Sato leads the field into Turn 1. #83 Kimball makes contact with tire barrier in Turn 1.
RYAN HUNTER REAY (No. 1 DHL Chevrolet): "I just started getting desperate. We couldn't go anywhere. We missed some of the grip today that we had in prior days. Some of the corners that were my strongest were my weakest today. I was definitely handcuffed, so we just started trying things. We were in the back anyway, I had to move forward again and I just got in too hot, no grip on the inside there. Just trying things, trying anything to make a bad day go a little better, but it just went from bad to worse. I feel really bad for the guys, they gave me a great car all weekend, we just missed it today. I absolutely missed it out there on the track, so we have to rebound in Brazil for sure and try to get the DHL Chevy on top again."
IZOD IndyCar Series officials have penalized #55 Vautier for an unsafe pit release on Lap 51.
Lap 58: #14 Sato leads #15 Rahal by 1.1480 seconds.
Lap 60: #14 Sato leads #15 Rahal by 1.0640 seconds.
Lap 62: #14 Sato leads #15 Rahal by 0.6221 of a second.
Lap 64: #14 Sato leads #15 Rahal by 1.1913 seconds.
Lap 66: #14 Sato leads #15 Rahal by 1.2837 seconds.
Lap 69: #14 Sato leads #15 Rahal by 2.1415 seconds.
Lap 72: #14 Sato leads #15 Rahal by 3.6019 seconds.
Lap 74: #14 Sato leads #15 Rahal by 4.3449 seconds.
Lap 78: Contact between #11 Kanaan and #22 Servia in Turn 1.
Lap 79: WHITE: #14 Sato leads #15 Rahal by 4.9924 seconds. FULL COURSE YELLOW.
Lap 80: YELLOW and CHECKERED. Takuma Sato wins the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach under caution.