Takuma Sato of Japan wins Indianapolis 500, beating Helio Castroneves

Takuma Sato became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday when he denied Helio Castroneves a record-tying fourth victory as the two traded the lead in the closing laps.

INDIANAPOLIS – At the end of 500 miles around Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it was a former Formula One driver who took the checkered flag.

He even drove for Andretti Autosport. It just wasn’t Fernando Alonso.

Takuma Sato became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday when he denied Helio Castroneves a record-tying fourth victory as the two traded the lead in the closing laps.

“I know Helio is always going to charge,” Sato said.

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“But he’s just such a gentleman and such a fair player.”

As for the expected reaction in Japan, Sato said, “This is going to be mega big. A lot of the Japanese fans are following the IndyCar Series and many, many flew over for the Indianapolis 500. We showed the great result today and I am very proud of it.”

The Andretti family has struggled for decades to win this race, but as a car owner, Michael Andretti knows the way to victory lane.

Sato’s victory gave Andretti a second consecutive win in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” An Andretti driver has won the Indy 500 three times in the last four years, and five times overall.

Last year, it was with rookie Alexander Rossi. This time, it is with Sato — who joined the team this season and had largely been overlooked before the race. The Andretti camp expanded to six cars for the 500 to add Alonso, a two-time F1 champion who brought massive European interest to the 101st edition of the race.

Six cars never seemed to spread the team too thin, and the main issue facing Andretti Autosport was the reliability of its Honda engines. Alonso put on a thrilling show and led 27 laps — third most in the race — but he was sent to the paddock when his engine blew with 20…

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