Takuma Sato won the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 Sunday. Sato returned to victory lane after winning the “Greatest Spectacle In Racing” in 2017.
Starting off in third position, the 43-year-old Japanese driver held off New Zealand IndyCar veteran Scott Dixon in the last few laps just before a yellow flag with five laps to go due to Spencer Pigot crashing coming out of turn four. The caution was not lifted before Sato cruised across the bricks, taking the checkered flag.
No fans were in the stands this time to cheer for Sato’s finish and celebration in victory lane. Race officials went without spectators due to COVID-19, after earlier attempts to allow a reduced number of spectators.
Sato said it was different without fans, including in the garage area, but the race was just as important as every other year.
“It is no question, I mean, it is Indy 500,” said Sato. “Yes, there's no spectators. If you go through the Gasoline Alley this morning, there is no, no energy in it. Yes, it was, it was a little sad, but we all understood.”
Sato is the only Japanese driver to win the race.
Dixon led for the most laps, but fell behind Sato and finished second.
“I think finishing second like this helps you big time. It makes you pretty angry and you know you definitely want some redemption,” said Dixon. “I think everybody did a fantastic job you know maybe I could have changed some of the things I did towards, you know, the end of the race, but it's easy to second guess yourself and also second guess the situation.”
This year’s Indy 500 made its mark with a few firsts: Roger Penske as the owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the first time the race was run outside of Memorial Day weekend.
Penske finalized his purchase of the track earlier this year, taking the reins from the Hulman-George family who owned and operated IMS for 75 years.
“Welcome race fans from around the world. Thank you for joining us for the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500,” Penske said in his remarks before telling drivers to start their engines. “This is a special day for me and the Penske family as we begin the stewardship of this iconic Speedway.”
He thanked the Hulman-George family for all their years of leadership and said he wished he could share Sunday’s race with the fans in person, “but we’ll be back home in Indiana in 2021.
This story has been updated.
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