Sato Wins First IndyCar Race For Japan

by
Reuters
Takuma Sato won a crash-filled Long Beach Grand Prix on Sunday to become the first Japanese driver to win an IndyCar race.

Takuma Sato won a crash-filled Long Beach Grand Prix on Sunday to become the first Japanese driver to win an IndyCar race.

The victory ended a long wait for the 36-year-old Sato, coming in his 52nd career IndyCar start following seven winless seasons on the Formula One circuit with Jordan, BAR and Super Aguri.

It was also a big day for AJ Foyt Racing, Sato giving the American motor racing legend his first win in 11 years.

"I just can't find the words, the boys did a tremendous job," said Sato, who jumped out of his car waving a Japanese flag after pulling into victory lane. "Just fantastic, the car was great, the pit stops were perfect.

"Just incredible feeling. This was awesome.

"I really wish AJ was here."

In a race littered with yellow flags, Sato produced what team principal Larry Foyt described as a perfect drive.

Sato started fourth and steered clear of trouble all day to lead American Graham Rahal across the finish line under caution when Brazilian Tony Kanaan slammed his car into the wall on the 79th lap of the 80-lap race through the streets of Long Beach.

Briton Justin Wilson was third followed by compatriot and three-time Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti.

Helio Castroneves, who finished ninth, has an eight point lead over Sato in the championship standings heading into the May 5 race on the streets of Sao Paulo.