Sato becomes first Japanese driver to win IndyCar race

Former Grand Prix driver Takuma Sato became the first driver from Japan to win an IndyCar race on Sunday at Long Beach. Sato started fourth on the grid in his AJ Foyt racing Dallara-Honda and took the lead halfway through the race. The race ended under a caution with Graham Rahal second and another ex-F1 driver Justin Wilson finishing third, having started from 24th on the grid.

Takuma disappeared from F1 in 2008 when the Super Aguri F1 team closed down. He had raced in F1 for six seasons, starting out with Jordan Grand Prix in 2002. He then spent three years with BAR Honda, before joining Super Aguri in 2006. He competed in a total of 90 F1 races, his best result being in the 2004 United States GP at Indianapolis where he finished third in his BAR-Honda. He started racing IndyCars in 2010. Last year at the Indianapolis 500 he was fighting for victory with Dario Franchitti when he spun off and crashed, on the last lap of the race.

24 thoughts on “Sato becomes first Japanese driver to win IndyCar race

  1. well done piece on the intercultural nature of the people who are able to follow their dreams in this type of circus of speed no matter how it is branded.
    thank you Joe for being able to broaden the passion from F1 to other modalities and in essence grow your own brand.

  2. sato had a great run yesterday, and it looks like the foyt team finally has some life in them after quite some time. takuma is second in points and is challenging every week

  3. Yesterday’s win has been a long-time coming for Taku. That move on the last lap would have been epic had he pulled it off. So glad he finally made it to the top of the podium. I read something earlier that it was his first win since his Formula 3 days.

  4. I have to be honest here. I’ve never been a huge Indycar fan…my passion has always been for F1. But frankly I’ve come around to the view that watching the Indycar races is more fun than watching predictable F1. The cars are not as sophisticated–and perhaps that’s the point. They’re a handful to drive and I enjoy watching the drivers battle their own steering wheels, as well as the other cars on the track.

    Especially good to see Sato come through…

    1. I am not sure how you can describe F1 as predictable as predictions are almost impossible these days.

      1. ..apart from Vettel for WDC 2013? The way he did Bahrain seemed ominously familiar to me. However, you’re quite correct. Ferrari and Lotus are well in the mix. You can never discount Alonso..especially as he seems to have a rather good car at the moment.

  5. First win for former F1 driver A.J. Foyt’s (alright, the 1958, 69 and 1960 Indy 500s, but those are still considered as F1 races) team since 2002. Usually the next stop for a driver after Foyt racing is oblivion but A. J.’s adopted son Larry has more control and is improving things.

    1. Nitpick alert – the 1950s Indy races were World Championship races, not F1 races. For its first decade or so the World Championship did not 100% equal F1. Witness not only Indy, but also the 52/53 championships run to F2 rules – despite the continuing existence of F1 during that period.

  6. Good on him, a very fine drive and thoroughly deserved. One thing that did make me smile was a promise from the TV commentary I saw that later in the week they would be profiling his “meteoric rise” to success…

  7. He did a great job yesterday and his win was long overdue. I found his post race comments that he is thinking of finally bringing his family over to the US from Europe as interesting. He said he never felt as if he had any job security in Indy Car so he was flying back and forth and now he is considering getting a permanent place for them in the US. That’s what a first win gives – confidence in yourself.

  8. A Sato win was overdue.
    He was a not very funny joke in his early races because he crashed so much – when he was teamed with EJ Viso and Mario Moraes in 2010 they all spent so much time in the wall that a video with circus music ended up on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9BmgSit9cA)
    But he’s pulled it together since then, looks a constant threat on road courses and ovals, and really that Indy 500 crash last year was an inch away from being a breathtaking overtake for victory.

  9. Its great to read that takuma sato has won the indy 500 this year, what an achievment for this driver. Ive always liked his driving style and never gave up attitude, well done takuma you broken the duck and may many more wins come your way…….

  10. There’s a song in the musical, “A Chorus Line” called, “Dance: 10; Looks: 3” which is pretty self-explanatory. I often think of that song when I think of Takuma Sato. Only with Taku it’s always been: “Speed: 10; Judgment:3.”

    But perhaps at the age of 36 he’s upped his judgment to match his pace. Here in the States, Sato has a surprisingly big following, which only grew last year when he tried to pass for the lead in the last lap of the Indy 500. Yeah, he was coming from too far back and it was doomed to failure but he made some new fans with his ballsy move.

    His F1 days are done, but in (essentially) a spec series like IndyCar, raw talent can have a pretty long run. Zanardi had his run, then Montoya, then Castro-Neves, and most recently, Will Power. Remember when Mansell broke through, it was like a dam break: the wins came much more easily. Will be interesting to watch Sato now that he knows he can win. Again.

    1. I was just thinking that Mansell won on his Indycar debut, but I guess you mean when he broke through in F1?

      1. Sorry for the confusion: I was thinking about Mansell and F1: I believe he got his first win (after many starts) at Brands Hatch in ’85. He promptly won the next race and five more in ’86.
        But I think you’re right too: Mansell won his first IndyCar race in 1993.

  11. It’s always nice to hear that ex F1 drivers can have a successful career outside of F1 Not everyone can be world champion and it must be quite hard to have to give up on your dream and seek fulfillment elsewhere.

    1. 1978 a remarquable season in with two indy races in UK (Silverstone and Brand Hatch). A.J. won with the old Ford 159ci quad cam turbo V8 in Silverstone.

      Tom Sneva (Penske PC6 & PC6B Cosworth DFX) won the USAC Championship (18 races) with no wins (never happened in F-1) !

      Al Unser (Lola T500 Cosworth DFX) won the Indy 500 that year.

      I remember well Danny Ongais who was very impressive (as always) with the Parnelli VPJ6B-Cosworth DFX.

  12. It was a great race. Takuma drove a controlled race, and never looked like losing it after he got the lead. Also great drives from Graham Rahal and Justin Wilson. Dario seemed to fade in the late stages. Good value for money too. $80 for a grandstand seat, and $25 for a paddock pass. Even got to do a grid walk just before the race. The teams and drivers are so accessible. Most of them will have their photo taken with you. I plan to go to the season finale at Fontana too.

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