Track Talk: Indianapolis 500 Recap

TAKUMA SATO IS THE INDY 500 CHAMPION! I repeat, TAKUMA SATO IS THE INDY 500 CHAMPION! We recap the wildly unpredictable 101st running of the Indianapolis 500.

Takuma Sato takes the checkered flag: We had Takuma Sato listed as one of our ‘dark horses’ to win the Indy 500- and he didn’t disappoint. Sato kept his nose clean the entire race, went wheel-to-wheel with Helio Castroneves and held him off for the win. Sato more than made up for his last-lap crash back in 2012. The likeable, fan-friendly driver also broke through for his country, becoming the first Japanese driver to win the Indy 500.

How about Ed Jones: We have talked quite a bit about Fernando Alonso’s rookie run, but let’s take a moment to praise rookie Ed Jones. The reigning Indy Lights champion raced his heart out, looking like a veteran throughout the race. He wound up finishing third, a well-deserved result for Dale Coyne Racing after the crash Sebastien Bourdais suffered. I mentioned last week on TrackTalk that the IndyCar media circus was praising Jones’ potential. Count TrackTalk part of the hype. We’ll be anxiously watching how Jones performs for the remainder of season.

Scott Dixon goes for a ride: Sato may be the victor, but the highlight reels are almost always going to focus on Scott Dixon’s wild crash. I’d be surprised if anyone reading this column has missed it, but if you haven’t seen it, you can watch it here. Credit to Dallara for the safety strides made with the DW12, and credit to the Holmatro Safety Crew for being on the scene to look after Dixon. Dixon got out on his own power, but is wearing a brace after complaining of ankle pain. Instagram pictures of Dixon have him on crutches at the Indy 500 banquet. Will he be ready for this weekends double-header in Detroit? We’ll keep following this story.

Fernando Alonso leaves his mark: Fernando Alonso came, he saw, and had he not lost an engine he just might have concurred. Alonso led 27 laps, only Max Chilton and Ryan Hunter-Reay led more than the two-time Formula One Champion, and he was running strong in the top-10 before losing a motor with 21 laps to go. Alonso left Indy with a new appreciation for the Indy 500, respect for IndyCar racing but above all, the confidence and knowledge that he could win the race if given another chance. Alonso says he’ll return, and we can’t wait for him to come back.

And speaking of Max Chilton: If I had told you that a Ganassi driver lead the most laps, who would have come to mind? Dixon? Tony Kanaan? Max Chilton surprised everyone by leading a race high 50-laps, a lead he held all they way up until lap 194.

Helio Castroneves- bridesmaid again: Helio Castroneves’ chance at joining Rick Mears, Al Unser, and AJ Foyt as four-time winners came up short again. The upside? Double-points at Indy have vaulted Castroneves into the IndyCar championship points lead. He may have missed winning another Indy 500, but he may have booked a ticket to that elusive IndyCar championship.

Victor Genova is the host of the Media People Podcast and a freelance racing writer. You can follow him on Twitter at @VicGenova