Sunday, May 27, 2012

2012 Indy 500 - Takuma Sato crashes, Dario Franchitti wins his 3rd Indy 500

For the second consecutive Indy 500, a crash at the final lap decided the outcome of the race. Dario Franchitti was on a class of his own and proved his quality, but it was Japanese ex-Formula 1 driver Takuma Sato who provided the excitement. Man, what a thrilling final five laps we had at the 2012 Indianapolis 500!
At the restart, with 5 laps to go,  Sato, who was on form throughout the second part of the race leading for a significant number of laps after climbing from 19th on the grid, was back in fifth behind Justin Wilson, Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti and leader Tony Kanaan. As he had done throughout the race, Sato displayed a maturity that was unlike his earlier seasons in IndyCars. The final caution period had eliminated any need for the frontrunners to save fuel as they could come in for a splash and dash. Sato was in the hunt, and when the green flag came with just around five laps remaining he slowly worked his way as Tony Kanaan slipped down the order from the lead to fourth.
With two laps remaining Sato made a bold and unexpected move on the inside of Scott Dixon and was through to second with only Dario Franchitti left between him and the chance to rewrite history as the first ever Japanese to win the Indianapolis 500. As the final lap began, Sato tucked up right behind Franchitti who knew Sato was looking to pass him on the inside like he had done on Dixon. Franchitti moved a little to the inside, and Sato was expected to fall back since there just did not appear to be enough room on the inside of Turn 1 to overtake. But he squeezed through as the fans looked on anxiously to see if he might just pull it off for a historic moment in the history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Sato’s Rahal Letterman Lanigan Dallara DW12 Honda was halfway beside the Ganassi Dallara DW12 Honda of Franchitti. But he was well past the white line on the inside of the curve and was marginally on the grass. This part of the track has hardly any grip and Sato spun and hit Franchitti in the process. Many thought it would take both of them out. But Franchitti’s spotter told him to keep going as Sato crashed against the wall, destroying the rear end of his car. Dario won, followed by his Ganassi team-mate Scott Dixon and KV Racing’s Tony Kanaan.
That white line had proved quite tricky in the race, particularly with Ed Carpenter who spun on touching the line on the inside but somehow managed to keep his car from hitting the wall. But it was not to be for Takuma Sato. He was classified 17th in the end but at Indy it does not matter where you finish unless you win it. Dario Franchitti may have won his third Indy 500, but it was Sato who won the hearts of fans. Let’s hope he has a promising 2012 IndyCar season!