Takuma Sato won the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, erasing the memory of heartbreak in 2012 to become the first Japanese driver to triumph in America’s iconic race.
Sato passed three-time winner Helio Castroneves in the waning laps and held on for the victory.
“Unbelievable feeling!” a beaming Sato declared as he accepted a bear-hug of congratulations from Andretti Autosport team boss Michael Andretti.
“This is mega-big. I can’t imagine how it’s going to be,” Sato, winner of just one prior IndyCar race, said of the likely reaction in his homeland.
Sato shouted into his radio and punched the air after denying Brazil’s Castroneves in his bid to become just the fourth driver to win the Indy 500 four times.
“He drove unbelievable,” Andretti said of his least-heralded driver’s performance in a thriller that saw pole-sitter Scott Dixon of New Zealand escape serious injury in a spectacular crash and Formula One star Fernando Alonso’s race killed by engine failure.
Sato, who started from the second row, beat Castroneves by two-tenths of a second.
“I couldn’t do what he was doing (on the closing laps),” Castroneves said.
Rookie Ed Jones, born in Dubai, was third, followed by Britain’s Max Chilton – who led a race-high 50 laps – Brazil’s Tony Kanaan, Colombia’s Juan Pablo Montoya and 2016 winner Alexander Rossi of the United States.
The hectic race featured 35 lead changes among a race-record 15 drivers.
Alonso suffers engine failure
That included Spain’s Alonso, who rocked racing when he opted to play hooky from Formula One’s Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday to tackle the 2.5 mile (4km) Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Despite his Formula One pedigree, Alonso faced a welter of new challenges. He had never raced before on an oval, never driven an IndyCar and hadn’t done a rolling start since his karting days.
But he challenged for the lead much of the day, leading 27 laps before his Honda engine blew after 179 of 200 laps.
Honda engine failures also ended the hopes of Ryan Hunter-Reay and Charlie Kimball.
“I felt the noise, the engine friction and then I backed off and saw the smoke from the exhaust,” said Alonso, who received a rousing ovation as he exited his vehicle. “I think we deserved at least to finish the race ... who knows what position we could be.”
Despite the anti-climactic finish, Alonso called his month of May – from rookie training through qualifying and the race – “one of the best experiences in my career,” intimating he would consider coming back to try again.”
Dixon survives scare
Dixon’s day ended in much more frightening fashion when, after 53 laps, his car was hit by that of Jay Howard after the Briton went into the wall.
The Kiwi’s car was catapulted into the air, then slid sideways on the inside safety barrier, flames erupting as the back end of the car was ripped away.
Miraculously, Dixon climbed out of the car and walked away under his own steam, as did Howard.
“I’m a little beaten up there, it was a bit of a rough ride,” said Dixon, a four-time IndyCar series champion, who later returned to the track infirmary to be fitted with a boot on his sore left foot and ankle.
Castroneves just avoided being caught up in the incident, driving under Dixon’s car as it was spiraled through the air.
Other mishaps included a crash on lap 122 that had doctors checking out 1996 winner Buddy Lazier for chest pain, and a five-car crash on a restart from a caution period just 17 laps from the finish.
Sato, 40, avoided it all to seize the historic victory that eluded him in 2012 – when his last-lap bid to pass Dario Franchitti for the lead ended with a spin into the wall.
Despite that memory he had no qualms about taking on Castroneves when it counted.
“Helio is just a gentleman, and I knew I was racing against a real champion,” he said. “When Helio came up beside me with three laps to go, I decided this was the moment and I just had to go for it.”
Ten awesome TV shows to get over your post-GoT blues
With those withdrawal symptoms kicking in, all you need is a good rebound show.
Hangovers tend to have a debilitating effect on various human faculties, but a timely cure can ease that hollow feeling generally felt in the pit of the stomach. The Game of Thrones Season 7 finale has left us with that similar empty feeling, worsened by an official statement on the 16-month-long wait to witness The Great War. That indeed is a long time away from our friends Dany, Jon, Queen C and even sweet, sweet Podrick. While nothing can quite replace the frosty thrill of Game of Thrones, here’s a list of awesome shows, several having won multiple Emmy awards, that are sure to vanquish those nasty withdrawal symptoms:
There is no better setting for high stakes white collar crime than the Big Apple. And featuring a suited-up Paul Giamatti going head-to-head with the rich and ruthless Damien Lewis in New York, what’s not to like? Only two seasons young, this ShowTime original series promises a wolf-of-wall-street style showcase of power, corruption and untold riches. Billions is a great high-octane drama option if you want to keep the momentum going post GoT.
What do you get when the makers of the Dark Knight Trilogy and the studio behind Game of Thrones collaborate to remake a Michael Crichton classic? Westworld brings together two worlds: an imagined future and the old American West, with cowboys, gun slingers - the works. This sci-fi series manages to hold on to a dark secret by wrapping it with the excitement and adventure of the wild west. Once the plot is unwrapped, the secret reveals itself as a genius interpretation of human nature and what it means to be human. Regardless of what headspace you’re in, this Emmy-nominated series will absorb you in its expansive and futuristic world. If you don’t find all of the above compelling enough, you may want to watch Westworld simply because George RR Martin himself recommends it! Westworld will return for season 2 in the spring of 2018.
It’s a distinct possibility that your first impressions of this show, whether you form those from the trailer or opening sequence, will make you think this is just another sun-kissed and glossy Californian drama. Until, the dark theme of BLL descends like an eerie mist, that is. With the serious acting chops of Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman as leads, this murder mystery is one of a kind. Adapted from author Liane Moriarty’s book, this female-led show has received accolades for shattering the one-dimensional portrayal of women on TV. Despite the stellar star cast, this Emmy-nominated show wasn’t easy to make. You should watch Big Little Lies if only for Reese Witherspoon’s long struggle to get it off the ground.
The Night Of is one of the few crime dramas featuring South Asians without resorting to tired stereotypes. It’s the kind of show that will keep you in its grip with its mysterious plotline, have you rooting for its characters and leave you devastated and furious. While the narrative revolves around a murder and the mystery that surrounds it, its undertones raises questions on racial, class and courtroom politics. If you’re a fan of True Detective or Law & Order and are looking for something serious and thoughtful, look no further than this series of critical acclaim.
As the name suggests, AHS is a horror anthology for those who can stomach some gore and more. In its 6 seasons, the show has covered a wide range of horror settings like a murder house, freak shows, asylums etc. and the latest season is set to explore cults. Fans of Sarah Paulson and Jessica Lange are in for a treat, as are Lady Gaga’s fans. If you pride yourself on not being weak of the heart, give American Horror Story a try.
At its heart, Empire is a simple show about a family business. It just so happens that this family business is a bit different from the sort you are probably accustomed to, because this business entails running a record label, managing artistes and when push comes to shove, dealing with rivals in a permanent sort of manner. Empire treads some unique ground as a fairly violent show that also happens to be a musical. Lead actors Taraji P Henson and Terrence Howard certainly make it worth your while to visit this universe, but it’s the constantly evolving interpersonal relations and bevy of cameo appearances that’ll make you stay. If you’re a fan of hip hop, you’ll enjoy a peek into the world that makes it happen. Hey, even if you aren’t one, you might just grow fond of rap and hip hop.
When everything else fails, it’s comforting to know that the family will always be there to lift your spirits and keep you chuckling. And by the family we mean the Dunphys, Pritchetts and Tuckers, obviously. Modern Family portrays the hues of familial bonds with an honesty that most family shows would gloss over. Eight seasons in, the show’s characters like Gloria and Phil Dunphy have taken on legendary proportions in their fans’ minds as they navigate their relationships with relentless bumbling humour. If you’re tired of irritating one-liners or shows that try too hard, a Modern Family marathon is in order. This multiple-Emmy-winning sitcom is worth revisiting, especially since the brand new season 9 premiers on 28th September 2017.
Headlined by James Franco and Maggi Gyllenhaal, The Deuce is not just about the dazzle of the 1970s, with the hippest New York crowd dancing to disco in gloriously flamboyant outfits. What it IS about is the city’s nooks and crannies that contain its underbelly thriving on a drug epidemic. The series portrays the harsh reality of New York city in the 70s following the legalisation of the porn industry intertwined with the turbulence caused by mob violence. You’ll be hooked if you are a fan of The Wire and American Hustle, but keep in mind it’s grimmer and grittier. The Deuce offers a turbulent ride which will leave you wanting more.
In case you’re feeling vengeful, you can always get the spite out of your system vicariously by watching Dexter, our favourite serial killer. This vigilante killer doesn’t hide behind a mask or a costume, but sneaks around like a criminal, targeting the bad guys that have slipped through the justice system. From its premier in 2006 to its series finale in 2013, the Emmy-nominated Michael C Hall, as Dexter, has kept fans in awe of the scientific precision in which he conducts his kills. For those who haven’t seen the show, the opening credits give an accurate glimpse of how captivating the next 45 minutes will be. If it’s been a while since you watched in awe as the opening credits rolled, maybe you should revisit the world’s most loved psychopath for nostalgia’s sake.
Available starting October
If you’re still craving an epic drama with extensive settings and a grandiose plot and sub-plots, Rome, co-produced by HBO and BBC, is where your search stops. Rome is a historical drama that takes you through an overwhelming journey of Ancient Rome’s transition from a republic to an empire. And when it comes to tastes, this series provides the similar full-bodied flavour that you’ve grown to love about Game of Thrones. There’s a lot to take away for those who grew up quoting Julius Caesar, and for those looking for a realistic depiction of the legendary gladiators. If you’re a history buff, give this Emmy-winning show a try.
For your next obsession, Hotstar Premium has you covered with its wide collection of the most watched shows in the world. Apart from the ones we’ve recommended, Indian viewers can now easily watch other universally loved shows such as Silicon Valley and Prison Break, and movies including all titles from the Marvel and Disney universe. So take control of your life again post the Game of Thrones gloom and sign up for the Hotstar Premium membership here.
This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Hotstar and not by the Scroll editorial team.