Long Beach IndyCar: Takuma Sato claims first win amid chaos

Takuma Sato claimed his first IndyCar victory in a chaotic race around the streets of Long Beach

Long Beach IndyCar: Takuma Sato claims first win amid chaos

Sato ran among the frontrunners throughout the afternoon, and moved into the lead as the field cycled through its pitstops during a caution period on lap 31.

From there, both he and his AJ Foyt Racing team were flawless. Sato was quick when he needed to be, looked after his tyres, enjoyed perfect service in the pits, and never appeared to have any problems managing the gap between himself and his pursuers.

He crossed the finish line under full-course yellows following a late crash between Tony Kanaan and Oriol Servia, but just prior to the crash he had a 5.2-second lead over Graham Rahal, so the yellow made little difference.

Rahal had matched Sato's pace early in the final stint before backing off in the hope of saving enough fuel to attack at the end, but Sato had enough in reserve himself to keep him at a distance.

Nevertheless, it was a good result for Rahal following a disappointing start to his season back with his father's Rahal Letterman Lanigan team.

Justin Wilson did a superb job to finish third for Dale Coyne Racing after starting from the rear of the field, the Brit making good use of the extra set of red tyres that he had available after not completing a lap in qualifying yesterday.

Polesitter Dario Franchitti was fourth, the Scot having lost time to a slow first pitstop.

He was followed across the line by JR Hildebrand, who had passed Panther stablemate Servia while he was recovering from his Kanaan encounter.

The Spaniard was initially issued a post-race penalty for avoidable contact, but this was later rescinded following an appeal by the team.

Servia had a similar penalty rescinded the previous day following an incident involving Scott Dixon in qualifying.

Elsewhere, there was chaos. Dixon, who started from the back of the field, was spun around early on by Tristan Vautier, sending the Kiwi into the pits to have a puncture repaired and Vautier in for a penalty.

Dixon fell a lap down, but later regained it and finished 10th.

Vautier meanwhile recovered to run as high as third late on before being issued yet another penalty, this time as the result of being released directly into the side of Will Power's car during a stop.

The resultant contact sent Power back into the pits on the next lap for minor repairs, compounding an already frustrating afternoon for the Penske driver, who had struggled badly on his primary tyres during the middle phase of the race.

His team-mates fared little better, with Helio Castroneves falling out of contention early after damaging his front wing, and AJ Allmendinger retiring with a mechanical problem.

Things were just as tough at Andretti, with James Hinchcliffe being squeezed into the wall and crashing out on a restart - an incident that also damaged the car of team-mate EJ Viso - and Ryan Hunter-Reay crashing while trying to pass Ana Beatriz.

Results - 80 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Takuma Sato Foyt Dallara-Honda 1h50m08.7155s 2. Graham Rahal Rahal Dallara-Honda + 5.3612s 3. Justin Wilson Coyne Dallara-Honda + 8.2386s 4. Dario Franchitti Ganassi Dallara-Honda + 12.3573s 5. JR Hildebrand Panther Dallara-Chevy + 28.2402s 6. Oriol Servia Panther/DRR Dallara-Chevy + 29.4683s 7. Marco Andretti Andretti Dallara-Chevy + 30.2703s 8. Simon Pagenaud Schmidt Dallara-Honda + 31.8674s 9. Simona de Silvestro KV Dallara-Chevy + 33.1224s 10. Helio Castroneves Penske Dallara-Chevy + 33.4118s 11. Scott Dixon Ganassi Dallara-Honda + 33.6278s 12. James Jakes Rahal Dallara-Honda + 35.0645s 13. Josef Newgarden Fisher Dallara-Honda + 35.8945s 14. Ana Beatriz Coyne Dallara-Honda + 36.3442s 15. Sebastien Bourdais Dragon Dallara-Chevy + 36.5936s 16. Will Power Penske Dallara-Chevy + 43.0022s 17. Tristan Vautier Schmidt Dallara-Honda + 51.7961s 18. Ed Carpenter Carpenter Dallara-Chevy + 56.4533s 19. Alex Tagliani Herta Dallara-Honda + 1 laps 20. Tony Kanaan KV Dallara-Chevy + 2 laps 21. Charlie Kimball Ganassi Dallara-Honda + 2 laps 22. EJ Viso Andretti Dallara-Chevy + 27 laps Retirements: AJ Allmendinger Penske Dallara-Chevy 51 laps Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Dallara-Chevy 49 laps Mike Conway Rahal Dallara-Honda 38 laps James Hinchcliffe Andretti Dallara-Chevy 34 laps Sebastian Saavedra Dragon Dallara-Chevy 1 lap 
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Series IndyCar
Drivers Takuma Sato
Author Mark Glendenning
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