Takuma Sato became the first driver from Japan to win an Indy car race, prevailing in the 39th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Sato, who started fourth in the 80-lap race on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn street circuit, provided A.J. Foyt Racing its first victory since July 7, 2002, at Kansas Speedway with Airton Dare behind the wheel. The last win for the team on a road/street course was by A.J. Foyt on Oct. 1, 1978, at Silverstone. Overall, A.J. Foyt Racing has 44th victories.
“Takuma made it look too easy,” team director and race strategist Larry Foyt said. “It made me so nervous watching it out there. He just drove a flawless race.”
Sato, making his 52nd IZOD IndyCar Series start, overtook Ryan Hunter-Reay for second on Lap 23 and assumed the point on Lap 30 when race leader Will Power pitted under yellow. The remainder of the race Sato’s No. 14 ABC Supply car was strong on both the Firestone primary and alternate tires.
“It was just a perfect weekend to be honest,” said Sato, whose previous best finish was second at Edmonton in 2012. “The team did a tremendous job. It is great news for the Japanese. Japan has had such a tough time after the earthquake. I’m really happy to give everybody some good news.”
Sato led Graham Rahal across the finish line under caution. It was the best finish for Rahal since finishing second at Texas last June. Justin Wilson, who won that race at Texas Motor Speedway, advanced from the 24th starting position to finish third.
Sato is the third winner in as many IZOD IndyCar Series races this season and climbed to second in the championship standings. Helio Castroneves, who finished 10th, has a six-point lead heading into the May 5 race on the street circuit in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Honda-powered teams swept the podium for the first time this season.
Also at Long Beach, Carlos Munoz won the Firestone Indy Lights Long Beach 100 from the pole position. It was the second consecutive flag-to-flag victory for Munoz, driving the No. 26 Dialy-Ser car for Andretti Autosport.
Gabby Chaves finished second for Schmidt Peterson with Curb-Agajanian and Sage Karam was third in another Schmidt Peterson with Curb-Agajanian car. Munoz moved to first in the championship standings heading to the Firestone Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 24.
Long Beach race results
Results of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach IZOD IndyCar Series event Sunday on the 1.968 mile Streets of Long Beach, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (4) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
2. (11) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
3. (24) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
4. (1) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
5. (12) JR Hildebrand, Dallara-Chevy, 80, Running
6. (18) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Chevy, 80, Running
7. (25) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Chevy, 80, Running
8. (17) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
9. (19) Simona de Silvestro, Dallara-Chevy, 80, Running
10. (6) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 80, Running
11. (26) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
12. (13) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
13. (16) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
14. (22) Ana Beatriz, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
15. (15) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 80, Running
16. (3) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 80, Running
17. (27) Tristan Vautier, Dallara-Honda, 80, Running
18. (23) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 80, Running
19. (21) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Honda, 79, Running
20. (8) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 78, Contact
21. (9) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Honda, 78, Running
22. (10) EJ Viso, Dallara-Chevy, 53, Running
23. (14) AJ Allmendinger, Dallara-Chevy, 51, Mechanical
24. (2) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Chevy, 49, Contact
25. (5) Mike Conway, Dallara-Honda, 38, Electrical
26. (7) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Chevy, 34, Contact
27. (20) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevy, 1, Contact
Winners average speed: 85.763
Time of Race: 01:50:08.7155
Margin of victory: Under caution
Cautions: 5 for 16 laps
Lead changes: 4 among 4 drivers
Lap leaders: Franchitti 1 - 6, Hunter-Reay 7, Franchitti 8 - 28, Power 29 - 30, Sato 31 - 80
Point Standings: Castroneves 99, Sato 93, Dixon 89, Andretti 87, Wilson 81, Hunter-Reay 73, Rahal 66, Power 62, de Silvestro 62, Hinchcliffe 61.