Sato holds off Carpenter in thrilling finish at Gateway

After facing criticism throughout the week due to the Pocono crash, Takuma Sato was able to fend off a hard-charging Ed Carpenter at the line in a thrilling finish at World Wide Technology Raceway.

“Just the support, thank you to all the IndyCar fans, everyone around the world, “Sato said to NBCSN. “The team, the people made this happen. The last couple of days was tough, we kept our heads down, did our job and obviously was a little lucky, but we were fast, so it was great.”

Championship points leader Josef Newgarden started on the pole. The race already had a caution for the 7 of Marcus Ericsson spin. From there, there was a long green-flag run before the first round of pit stops began on Lap 46 with Sato making a stop that was followed by Simon Pagenaud and Will Power. Power was in the wall on Lap 53, which ended his night and he wound up with a disappointing last-place finish.

“I just put it like an inch in the marbles, out last, cold tires,” Power said. “Straight to the wall, like ice, it would take off so bad. Such a good car man. I had a very bad vibration, very bad. It wasn’t ideal, but we were still hanging on with faith. We had a good car.”

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Also under the caution, Scott Dixon came down pit road for a problem with his radiator. The problem later turned out to be water coming out of the radiator, which sent him to the garage so the team could fix the issue. However, Dixon called it quits late in the race, as the margin of laps was too significant to make up. He would wind up 20th.

After the caution, there was a change in the race up front, which saw Canadian James Hinchcliffe and rookie sensation Santino Ferrucci battle for the lead, until Ferrucci took control of the race on Lap 83. Just a few laps later, the next round of pit stops occurred on Lap 96.

As green-flag pit stops were taking place, the third caution came out on Lap 120 again for Ericsson who was in the wall. Ferrucci cycled out as the leader with Marco Andretti making his scheduled pit stop under yellow. A restart would take place but another caution flew on Lap 132 for Spencer Pigot. Pigot hit the wall after a battle with Charlie Kimball, as Kimball pinched Pigot down. The incident was under review by IndyCar officials but no action was taken.

Despite the long green flag runs, whenever there was a caution, there would be thrilling restarts that took place diving into Turn 1 with the cars so spread out. This happened between Zach Veach and Sebastian Bourdais. The leaders began to pit again on Lap 174 with Rossi, Hinchcliffe, Colton Herta, Simon Pagenaud and Newgarden.

After the stops, Hinchcliffe and Pagenaud made slight contact with each other. Pagenaud called for blocking, however, IndyCar officials reviewed the incident with no action taken.

Race leader Ferrucci finally made his stop on Lap 188 from the lead but he had a slow stop which cost him some time on the track. However, he would catch a lucky break when there was another caution on Lap 190 for Bourdais who hit the wall on the straightaway. Sato pitted from the lead under caution which was a lucky break for him, as well.

That would be the final caution of the race as the leaders would battle it out under a green flag stint. Some interesting developments took place with 20 to go for Rossi, as he could not make it all the way on fuel and had to make a pit stop. Graham Rahal also had a problem with his car that forced him to retire from the event.

Ferrucci was trying to make a comeback happen with less than 20 to go until he got way high up the track and had to check up with eight to go in Turn 1. This ultimately cost him a shot for the win.

The action didn’t stop there as a battle for the win ensued up front. Carpenter was trying to run down Sato late in the race. On the last lap, Carpenter made one last try on Sato before falling short at the line with Sato barely finishing in front of him for the win at Gateway.

“We went three-wide or four-wide, and we gently touched with (James) Hinchcliffe, I don’t remember,” Sato said to NBCSN about his race early. “It was tough, I lost the moment twice. We made it happen today, a really big thank you to the team, an incredible team.”

Carpenter finished in the second position by inches to Sato in the thriller.

“Yesterday was one of the hardest days I’ve had in a car,” Carpenter described to NBCSN. “Just confusing. Both teams, the 20 and 21, we were never good yesterday. We just kept our heads down and we didn’t have to change much to get into the window. We were really good on the long runs tonight, that’s what was good for us. Just needed a little more time to get to Takuma.”

This was Sato’s second win of the season and his first since Barber Motorsports Park earlier this season. The victory marked his fifth career win in IndyCar. The margin of victory was 0.0399 between Sato and Carpenter at the line.

Up Next: The NTT IndyCar Series heads to Portland next Sunday for the Grand Prix of Portland, live on NBC at 3 p.m. ET.

Official Results

  1. Takuma Sato
  2. Ed Carpenter
  3. Tony Kanaan
  4. Santino Ferrucci
  5. Simon Pagenaud
  6. Conor Daly
  7. Josef Newgarden
  8. Ryan Hunter-Reay
  9. Colton Herta
  10. Marco Andretti
  11. Felix Rosenqvist
  12. James Hinchcliffe, One lap down
  13. Alexander Rossi, One lap down
  14. Zach Veach, One lap down
  15. Charlie Kimball, One lap down
  16. Marcus Ericsson, One lap down
  17. Matheus Leist, Two laps down
  18. Graham Rahal, Retired
  19. Sebastian Bourdais, Retired
  20. Scott Dixon, Retired
  21. Spencer Pigot, Retired
  22. Will Power, Retired

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