Skip to content

Takuma Sato scores first IndyCar win at Long Beach

Apr 21, 2013, 6:58 PM EDT

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

Ex-Formula One standout Takuma Sato has become a winner in the IZOD IndyCar Series, taking the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach by 5.36 seconds over Graham Rahal and becoming the first Japanese driver to win an IndyCar race.

The win also shatters a long drought for A.J. Foyt Racing, which hadn’t won in the series since Airton Dare won at Kansas Speedway in July of 2002. The team’s namesake, four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt, was not in attendance at Long Beach as he prepares for surgery next week, but that didn’t stop an exuberant celebration from breaking out amongst the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda crew.

Upon coming to Victory Lane, Sato himself leaped into the arms of a crewman and then waved the Japanese flag as the confetti flew all around him.

“I can’t find the words,” said Sato to NBC Sports Network. “The boys have done a tremendous job. The car was great, pit stops were perfect, great calls — just an incredible feeling…This is just amazing. I’m really happy with the team. Thank you to all our sponsors and A.J. for such a fantastic opportunity.”

“Those laps seemed to take forever, but I’m just so happy for this group,” said team director Larry Foyt. “We worked so hard. I hate that Dad’s not here…But this is his team and he’s helped us build it. Our sponsor has stuck with us for so many years, and I’m so glad it’s all come together.”

Rahal was unable to hang with Sato in the late stages of the race, but still managed to jump nine spots to claim the runner-up position — his best result since going P2 last season at Texas Motor Speedway.

“To be honest, it just feels phenomenal to get this result,” said the Ohio native. “It felt so good to be on the podium at Long Beach, so much history here. The only problem is I think this is the sixth time a Rahal’s finished second here, so we’re gonna have to break the curse eventually.”

The last spot on the podium went to Justin Wilson, who charged all the way from the 24th starting position to come away third and secure a 1-2-3 finish for Honda.

“A little bit of luck and circumstances, and the team did a great job with the strategy,” Wilson said. “We pitted on think, like [Lap 5 or 6], came in and put the reds on — we had plenty of reds, since we didn’t qualify! So we just went out there and pushed hard the entire race. I think that helped, having the extra set and being able to pick people off.”

Dario Franchitti converted his pole into a desperately needed fourth-place result for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, while Panther Racing’s J.R. Hildebrand raced into the fifth position in the final laps to lead the Chevrolet camp.

Latest Posts
  1. NASCAR: Roster set for October’s Drive for Diversity combine

    Sep 30, 2014, 1:55 PM EDT

    nascar logo 2014 Getty Images

    20 multicultural and female drivers from across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and South America will seek to earn a spot in the D4D’s Class of 2015.

  2. IndyCar: James Hinchcliffe presides over Charlie Kimball’s wedding

    Sep 30, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT

    Hinchcliffe Getty Images

    “The Mayor” has now apparently become The Minister.

  3. IndyCar: Penske drivers off to Verizon HQ; CFH ones to Mid-Ohio today

    Sep 30, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    MAVTV 500 Getty Images

    A busy day for members of two IndyCar teams, as Penske and CFH drivers head to New Jersey and Mid-Ohio, respectively.

  4. It’s been two years since Kobayashi’s Suzuka podium with Sauber (VIDEO)

    Sep 30, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Brazil - Previews Getty Images

    Two years ago, Kamui Kobayashi stood on an F1 podium in his home country, with Sauber. It seems so long ago, now.

  5. Stats of note heading into Suzuka

    Sep 30, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Sebastian Vettel AP

    Some of the stats of note as we head into the Japanese Grand Prix.

  6. IndyCar: What’s Honda’s next move, driver-wise?

    Sep 30, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Honda Indy Toronto - Day 1 Getty Images

    Honda has Ryan Hunter-Reay, but losing Simon Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden are big blows from marketing and on-track standpoints.

  7. NASCAR AMERICA: Tony Stewart still shaken following fatal crash (VIDEO)

    Sep 29, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT

    Tony Stewart Press Conference Getty Images

    More comments from Stewart’s press conference on Monday in North Carolina.

  8. NASCAR AMERICA: Jeff Gordon, 24 team make statement at Dover (VIDEO)

    Sep 29, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

    AAA 400 Getty Images

    Instead of racing to protect his position in the Chase, Jeff Gordon went into attack mode Sunday at Dover – and it paid off with a win. Check out his Victory Lane interview with NASCAR AMERICA’s Kelli Stavast here.

  9. Everything you need to know about the 2014 Chasers at Kansas

    Sep 29, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    Kevin Harvick AP

    All the notes and numbers to keep in mind as the Contender Round begins on Kansas’ 1.5-mile oval.

  10. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA recaps Dover, Tony Stewart presser at 7 p.m. ET

    Sep 29, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT

    AAA 400 Getty Images

    Coming up: Highlights from the first cut race of the Chase; reports on Kevin Harvick’s tire failure and Hendrick Motorsports; Tony Stewart speaks about trying to carry on after his involvement in a fatal sprint car accident.

  11. F1: Kevin Magnussen prepared for future – whatever it may be

    Sep 29, 2014, 5:45 PM EDT

    Kevin Magnussen AP

    Time will tell if K-Mag will have a sophomore season in F1. But he reckons that if he didn’t do well this year with McLaren, he wasn’t cut out for the series in the first place.

  12. IndyCar Driver Review: Josef Newgarden

    Sep 29, 2014, 5:15 PM EDT

    newgardenpost Getty Images

    Josef Newgarden ends P13 in 2014, after a year where an overall top-10 finish was possible.

  13. NASCAR: Dale Jr. hails ‘Dinger, Almirola after they’re eliminated from Chase

    Sep 29, 2014, 4:47 PM EDT

    AAA 400 - Practice Getty Images

    A nice display of sportsmanship after a tough day at the Monster Mile.

  14. IndyCar Driver Review: James Hinchcliffe

    Sep 29, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT

    James Hinchcliffe AP

    It was a tough year for James Hinchcliffe, who ended P12 in the IndyCar points.

  15. F1: Mercedes prepares for Suzuka, homestretch of World Championship fight

    Sep 29, 2014, 3:33 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Qualifying Getty Images

    Hamilton hopes to join the list of famous names that have won at Suzuka, while Rosberg turns the page on his disappointing Singapore Grand Prix.

  16. IndyCar Driver Review: Ryan Briscoe

    Sep 29, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT

    Briscoe072914 Getty Images

    Ryan Briscoe’s return to IndyCar was quiet, clean and productive.

  17. Pagenaud: “It’s a tremendous opportunity for my career”

    Sep 29, 2014, 3:05 PM EDT

    PowerPag AP

    Simon Pagenaud leaves the past behind, and readies for Team Penske opportunity.

  18. NASCAR: Successful Challenger Round in the books for Joey Logano

    Sep 29, 2014, 2:15 PM EDT

    AAA 400 - Practice Getty Images

    Lack of bonus points notwithstanding, Logano’s pleased about where he and his No. 22 Team Penske crew stand going into the next round of the Chase.

  19. Weekend wrap-up: Was first Chase elimination race an exciting one?

    Sep 29, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    Jeff Gordon AP

    Also: Tony Stewart opens up; IndyCar’s Simon Pagenaud jumps to Team Penske; and the stage is set for a wild season finale in Red Bull Global Rallycross.

Video from NASCAR America

Gordon: Win was great team statement
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. Gordon (1628)
  2. K. Harvick (1409)
  3. T. Stewart (1079)
  4. K. Busch (1016)
  5. J. Logano (917)