Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Takuma Sato in the No.30 Mi Jack Panasonic Honda ended Team Penske’s stranglehold on the oval races in the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series with Roger Penske’s team having won in Texas, Iowa and Pocono. Sato who started the race from fifth place was delighted with his win.
The 2017 Indianapolis 500 winner said:
I just can’t find the words to thank everyone for all the support. It was special, particularly after the difficult circumstances. To come here, have a strong qualifying, which I was really proud of the team. It was a difficult start. I was sandwiched, then went backwards. It was difficult to get away the first stint. We kept our heads down, did our job, believed in ourselves, take the moment for the chance to come back. We came back. We had a lot of good pace over the next two stints and stretched the fuel to what we needed. Yeah, the yellow came in. Of course, some luck maybe happened. I think this is the whole effort of the team completely behind me, the support. I’m so happy to bring the car to the win for them. I’m very, very happy. On the last restart, perhaps it was really slow but consistent speed obviously. I had to take all the advantage just to control the pack. After that we just drove away beautifully, I would say. Excitement for the race, tire degradation. Tony and I had similar difficulty for the last 20 laps where Ed seems to be hooking up very, very good speed. It was tough for the last five laps. I just wanted to bring the car home, which we did. (On whether this win was the most gratifying of his career other than the Indy 500:) Yes. I’m sure. To win from pole at Barber was very significant. Just the domination of the weekend is always great credit for the team, and satisfaction. But this win is so special, like you said, beside Indy 500, obviously nothing like it. This is just so emotional. Gave me unbelievable boost. The next two races are going to be exciting. For sure the championship going to be very exciting. Hopefully I can climb a few positions up towards the end of the season. It is just unbelievable support from the team. I’m so happy. So proud to be a part of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
Taku said that after the Indianapolis 500 win in 2017 the win on Saturday night was the best of his career saying:
Yes, I’m sure. “Winning (from) pole at Barber was very significant – just the domination of the weekend is always great credit for the team and satisfaction. But this win is so special – beside Indy 500, obviously nothing like (that). This is just so emotional. Gave me unbelievable boost.
“(It’s) a great story.
Sato’s team mate Graham Rahal in the No.15 Mi Jack Honda endured a disappointing race as he was forced to retire from the event and speaking following the race he said:
I’m disappointed. Actually the car wasn’t that bad. We just had a couple of set of tires that vibrated unbelievably bad. It’s frustrating. As a team, we need to get a little bit of luck on our side. The guys are working incredibly hard but we’re not seeing the fruits of our labor and it’s disappointing. I feel bad for them. Congrats to Takuma and the No. 30 guys on their win.
Next stop on the NTT IndyCar Series schedule is the Grand Prix of Portland next weekend where Takuma Sato took victroy for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing last year.