Race Report: Indianapolis 500

INDIANAPOLIS May 24, 2015–This year’s Indianapolis 500 held drama from the first lap to the last as Juan Pablo Montoya fended off his teammate Will Power by a mere tenth of a second to win the race for the second time. Montoya first won the Memorial Day Classic in 2000.

The final 14 laps provided fans with some of the most thrilling racing ever at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the leaders swapped the top spot eight times! Finishing third through fifth were Charlie Kimball for his best finish ever here, Scott Dixon, and Graham Rahal, who piloted the top-finishing Honda-powered car.

The drama on the first lap came from Takuma Sato’s charge from the outside of the eighth row into Turn 1. He was squeezed into the wall by 20-year-old Sage Karam, who was not expecting Sato to be able to maintain his speed through the turn and the exit onto the short chute. It triggered a multi-car crash.

Sato skittered away with a broken steering arm and toelink while Karam crashed heavily enough that he was done for the day. The ABC Supply team was able to replace the left front steering arm during the caution period which lasted 11 laps due to another incident between Montoya and Simona DeSilvestro during the caution period. Sato lost two laps to the repair.

When the race restarted, Sato was last. Teammate Alex Tagliani had moved from 20th to 13th in the No. 48 Al-Fe Heat Treating Honda. Season-long teammate Jack Hawksworth had moved from 28th to 24th in the No. 41 ABC Supply Honda but then pitted to top off his fuel tank.

As the race settled in, Tagliani ran in the top half of the field getting as high as 13th on the second fuel stint. At one point, he led two laps under caution during the pit stop cycles. However, his car appeared to lose the handling midway through the race, perhaps due to changing track conditions. He dropped as low as 26th but then came back to finish 17th.

“It was a pretty eventful race for us, nothing I could ask more of from the guys,” Tagliani said afterwards. “I am very appreciative and honored to be part of the Foyt family. I was really appreciative just to be here, it means a lot to me. Having the limited time we did, we were playing a little on the fly today with pit stops, so that hurt us a little bit, but other than that I think the race was okay. The car was fairly good, it was missing a bit of speed, but I think in general we can say we accomplished what we needed to accomplish as a team. Doing it last minute like this was very difficult for everyone, but we pulled it off. We managed to run all 500 miles without a problem on the car, and that says it all for all the hard work and preparation the Al-Fe Heat Treating guys put into the car. I am very, very proud of them.”

Jack Hawksworth’s move through the field reached its high of 14th place by the three-quarter mark of the 200-lap race. His teammate Sato ran highly competitive lap times – at one point keeping pace amongst the leaders as he worked to be in position to get his laps back.

In all, Sato was able to get three laps back by the time sixth caution came out on lap 176. Unfortunately the caution was for his teammate Hawksworth, who had hit Sebastien Saavedra as the field ahead of them had scrambled around a slow car. Both cars spun and hit the wall in Turn 4. Hawksworth emerged unscathed but Saavedra sustained a contusion to his right foot.

“There was a bit of a gap for me to the big group that was in front and they had a huge checkup,” Hawksworth explained. “I guess I misjudged my closing speed a little bit and I touched the back of the 17 and he spun and then we all started crashing. It was disappointing but it was the last 20-30 laps of the Indy 500 and I was going for it. I’m fine but disappointed for the team and our sponsor ABC because we had a pretty decent car–maybe could have gotten a top 10. Not the day we wanted but we’ll try again in Detroit.”

Now on the same lap as the leaders, Sato’s passes on the track finally started counting in the final boxscore. In the final green flag stint he climbed from 19th to 13th to match his best result at this track. It was the second time he placed 13th, the first occurring in 2013 driving for Foyt.

“There was a bit of drama at turn 1–I was really disappointed,” Sato said. “I was staying in my line-outside- going to turn 1 on the outside and I exited turn 1 on the outside and it all looked good. The number 8 car was just coming up and my front wheel was already in front of his rear wheel so I could do nothing. I was sandwiched between him and the wall. Unfortunately I had to come back to the pit and replace the left front steering arm and toe-link and got a couple laps down. It took 150 laps to get our three laps back. The ABC boys did a good job on the pit stops and the strategy so that we were on the lead lap for the final restart. I had to work my way up from the back and I gained a couple positions in the end. It was a hard race and a really disappointing race.”

“No attack, no chance” is Takuma Sato’s philosophy. It is written on the banners that his fans bring to the race track and the t-shirts that they wear. And today his fans saw it in action.

But there was the team’s philosophy of “Never give up” that emerged during this race as the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda made up three laps thanks to quick pit work, savvy race strategy and Sato’s considerable drive.

The ABC Supply team will stay in Indianapolis the next couple days as they prepare for the journey to Detroit on Wednesday. Next weekend there will be a doubleheader with ABC-TV broadcasting both races Saturday and Sunday afternoon starting at 3:30 p.m. ET.