Scott Dixon was the favorite among oddsmakers to win the 104th Indianapolis 500, and after leading 111 of 200 laps on Sunday, it was easy to see why the Chip Ganassi Racing driver was predicted to capture his second Indy 500 victory.
That second trip to the Indy 500 mountain top, however, was reserved for Takuma Sato, whose Rahal Letterman Lanigan entry got by Dixon on Lap 172 and never looked back. Whatever easy speed Dixon’s No. 9 Honda produced beforehand was absent and, as he saved fuel to get to the finish, he figured Sato’s No. 30 Honda would fall behind.
It didn’t happen, and with the late caution period for the nasty crash suffered by Sato’s RLL teammate Spencer Pigot, the checkered flag waved over the Japanese driver as his rival from New Zealand was shocked to finish second.
“This is a hard one to swallow,” Dixon said. “On fuel mileage, I really can’t see how they were going to make it. We pitted a lap later, and the numbers they had to get, it was going to be very difficult. I thought they were going to throw a red flag, which would have been interesting for the last four or five laps. Huge congrats to Sato. He drove his pants off today. Rahal Letterman Lanigan, they were super-fast, obviously 1-3 (with Graham Rahal in third).”
For Dixon, the 2008 Indy 500 winner, his car was seemingly invincible for the majority of the race as it demonstrated the kind of dominance that is rarely experienced by a driver more than once or twice at the Speedway. This knowledge, along with earning his third runner-up finish at Indy, left the Kiwi lamenting the empty feeling the result brought.
“A good day for Honda. A massive thank you. Proud to be powered by HPD and Honda, and it’s nice to get some points,” he said. “But it’s hard when it slips away like that.”