After leading for fifty laps of the eighty lap Toyota Grand Prix at Long Beach on Sunday, Takuma Sato became the first Japanese driver ever to win an IndyCar championship race. Driving the #14 car for AJ Foyt Racing, Sato crossed the finish line ahead of Graham Rahal, with Justin Wilson, Dario Franchitti and JR Hildebrand taking third, fourth and fifth places. Sato started the race in fourth position and clocked up an average speed of 85.763 mph, scoring 53 points for the race. In a post-race interview Sato noted that it had been a perfect weekend, commending his team for doing a tremendous job and saying that he had been comfortable in the car and was able to “push everything”.
Born in Toyko in January 1977, Takuma Sato started his racing career on two wheels, winning a number of national junior championships for bicycle racing. He was 19 when he starting karting in Japan, moving up into the All-Japan Formula Three Championship for part of a season before moving to England in 1998 in pursuit of a European racing career. After competing in the British Formula Three Championship for two full seasons during which time he won the championship in 2001, Sato graduated to Formula One in 2002, enjoying a measure of success during his seven years, but losing his seat when Super Aguri withdrew from F1 due to financial difficulties. Sato signed with KV Racing Technology, driving for the team in both 2010 and 2011, finishing the season 21st and 13th respectively. In 2012 he drove for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, finishing 14th for the season, and signed with AJ Foyt’s team for 2013.
The current top five in the 2013 IndyCar Championship are Helio Castroneves (99 points); Takuma Sato (93 points); Scott Dixon (89 points); Marco Andretti (87 points); and Justin Wilson (81 points). The next IndyCar Series event is the Sao Paulo Indy 300 in Sao Paulo, Brazil – the home country of Helio Castroneves.
Reinforcing the fact that positions on a racetrack can change in the blink of an eye, the wreck involving Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano on the final lap of the NASCAR Auto Club 400 at Fontana on Sunday put Kyle Busch in the lead for his first Sprint Cup win of the 2013 season. It also shifted Dale Earnhardt Jr. into second place, putting him at the top of the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings with 199 points. Following his victory at Saturday’s Nationwide Series race, the Auto Club 400 victory on Sunday was Kyle Busch’s 25th NASCAR win.
Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano made contact in the final lap of the Auto Club 400, sending Logano into the outside wall and Hamlin into the inside wall. Hamlin was initially attended to in an ambulance, but was airlifted to a hospital where he remained overnight for observation. In off the track drama, Tony Stewart reportedly confronted Logano following the race, most likely related to the fact that Logano had blocked Stewart out of a late restart, resulting in the Sprint Cup series champion finishing the Auto Club 400 in 22nd place. Earnhardt started in 15th place, working his way up the field, but dropping to 22nd place during the race, hampered by a slow pit stop, before making his way back to fourth place and ending in second place after the Hamlin and Logano wreck. /p>
The top ten in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings are:
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr – #88 Chevrolet – 199 points
2. Brad Keselowski – #2 Ford – 187 points
3. Jimmie Johnson – #48 Chevrolet – 183 points
4. Carl Edwards – #99 Ford – 164 points
5. Greg Biffle – #16 Ford – 164 points
6. Kyle Busch – #18 Toyota – 163 points
7. Kasey Kahne – #5 Chevrolet – 159 points
8. Paul Menard – #27 Chevrolet – 154 points
9. Joey Logano – #22 Ford – 146 points
10. Denny Hamlin – #11 Toyota – 145 points