IndyCar – Indy Not Franchitti Bites Sato
It was a battle that lasted but one corner. However, it turned out to be THE battle for the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500. As Takuma Sato crossed the start/finish line to collect the white flag, all he could think about was getting around Dario Franchitti to be the first car to the checkered flag. It almost worked….almost. Coming off of a balls of steel pass on Scott Dixon the lap before, Takuma dove to the inside of Franchitti into turn one and bobbled. The car made massive impact into the turn 1 wall and just like that it was over. The thing that was really interesting was that a huge number of folks instantly through Dario under the bus. That’s fair, that’s what fans do. Let’s face it, Dario has not given folks much reason to cheer with complaining and griping during post race interviews. Yet we need to take a step back and realize that Indy was in fact the thing that bit Sato…not Dario.
The argument is that Dario squeezed or cut Sato into turn one. That caused Sato to be loose and caused the accident. The fact of the matter is Takuma placed himself below the white line before the cars even got to the corner. His angle of entry into the turn was not going to allow him to pass. Granted he had made that pass on Dixon, the probability of landing twice in a row against drivers that quality is about as good as Sato’s initial 150-1 odds to win the race. It is often said that Indy chooses who wins and who loses. Given the circumstances around this race and what has happened over the last year, Indy chose Dario to win the race. Franchitti applied a simple defensive move to hold the lead and the rest was all over.
There is no doubt that Takuma Sato is starving for his first IZOD IndyCar victory, but he took just one too many chances today. I simply cannot sit here and criticize Sato for attempting the move. I mean think about it…you are racing to win the biggest race in the world. Your thoughts are not going to be crystal clear and amazing. Especially if your first series win is on the biggest stage of them all. So I can’t fault Sato for making the attempt, but as an armchair quarterback I would have waited. Some have said that had Taku waited, you would have fallen even further back. I disagree with that point. I think if Sato would have waited, the backstretch would have offered a great point to pass. If the job couldn’t be done there, then stay close and try to take Dario down using the tow on the front stretch. High risk equals high reward, but potentially devastating consequences. That is what it takes to win races like the Indianapolis 500, and as history has shown it does not work out all of the time.
So while I understand some frustration, this was a clear example of putting it all on the line and just coming up short. Sato is a great driver and he is getting better and better each race weekend with Rahal Letterman. This was also the second Indy 500 running with an amazing finish. A very good thing for IndyCar all together. I will admit that while in the media center, I was cheering heavy for Takuma. That guy proved even more to me.
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