Michael Conroy/Associated Press
The 2020 Indianapolis 500 concluded in anticlimactic fashion as Takuma Sato crossed the finish line under caution to claim the title Sunday.
With four laps remaining, Spencer Pigot spun out and collided with the entrance to pit road. Track officials opted to wave the yellow flag rather than the red, which effectively ended the race. Sato cruised to Victory Lane as Scott Dixon and Graham Rahal finished second and third, respectively.
Here’s how the top 10 shook out.
2020 Indianapolis 500 Leaderboard
1. Takuma Sato
2. Scott Dixon
3. Graham Rahal
4. Santino Ferrucci
5. Josef Newgarden
6. Pato O’Ward
7. James Hinchcliffe
8. Colton Herta
9. Jack Harvey
10. Ryan Hunter-Reay
Full results available at the IndyCar Series’ official site
This is Sato’s second triumph at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He edged out Helio Castroneves in 2017, becoming the first Japanese driver to capture the checkered flag in the Indianapolis 500.
The circumstances surrounding Sunday’s result are clearly less than ideal.
Dixon couldn’t hide his disappointment while praising Sato’s performance.
“It’s definitely a hard one to swallow. We had such a great day,” he said, per Autosport’s Luke Smith. “With fuel mileage, I really can’t see how they were going to make it. They decided to go and run it. Sato drove his pants off today, they were super fast.”
The nature of the outcome is likely to be a dominant storyline coming out of the race. Some will likely argue Pigot’s crash—and the point at which it happened—warranted the red flag. Others might point to this as an example of why the IndyCar Series should adopt something similar to NASCAR’s overtime period.
Sato’s performance shouldn’t be overlooked, though.
He drove well throughout the buildup to Sunday, narrowly qualifying for the Fast Nine Shootout and then coming in third in that event. He proceeded to have one of the strongest cars on the track in the Indy 500, with his best lap speed (222.086 mph) the fifth-fastest on the day.
Alex Palou and Alexander Rossi, both of whom started in the third row, showed that a strong car isn’t enough on its own to guarantee victory.
Palou slammed into the wall to end his day after completing 122 laps.
Rossi, meanwhile, incurred a penalty for an unsafe release on pit road before a wreck doomed his chances of a possible comeback.
Sato avoided making any critical errors and faced a difficult head-to-head battle with Dixon toward the end to ensure he remained in first.
“I know Scott was coming right through, out of Turn 4, he was screaming coming,” Sato said, per the Associated Press’ Jenna Fryer. “I had to hold him off.”
Perhaps Dixon would have caught Sato under green over the final stretch, but nobody will ever know.
And make no mistake, Sato was a deserving champion in the 104th installment of the legendary race.