Andretti rules Indy _ and other takeaways from the 500

Takuma Sato won the 101st Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, holding off three-time victor Helio Castroneves and denying him a shot at history. Finally, as the 500 always delivers a finish worthy of O. Henry, came the twist at the end: Takuma Sato, he of many a calamitous move, made a smart, careful pass of leader Helio Castroneves at the best possible moment to win the 500-mile race. He joined Andretti Autosport this season, and his first oval win today is the fifth for Andretti Autosport in the Indianapolis 500 - including three in the last four years.

Sato, one of six drivers in the race for the potent Honda-powered Andretti team, was perhaps the least heralded part of a lineup that included Formula 1 star Fernando Alonso, former Indy champ Ryan Hunter-Reay and star-crossed Marco Andretti.

The Spaniard's controlled and polished performance won him the respect of the almost 300,000 spectators at the Brickyard who gave him a rousing standing ovation as his McLaren Andretti Autosport Honda, sporting McLaren's iconic papaya orange livery, slowed to a stop on the home straight-away. "I felt the noise and the engine friction so I backed off", said Alonso.

"Obviously disappointed not to finish the race", Alonso said, but added that "this has been one of the best experiences in my career".

Takuma Sato picked up a check for more than $2.45 million for winning Sunday's Indianapolis 500.

"When I was seeing each Honda going away I'm like, 'Here we go.' That's what I said", said Castroneves, whose Team Penske teammates hoped the reliability of their Chevrolet engines would win the day.

"You know, somebody said that to me when we were down in victory lane". Sato erased that legacy to become the first Japanese driver to win the race.

"I have to say he did a very good job", said the three-time victor. We were in the back and we led some laps.

The race was red-flagged on Lap 55 for a frightening crash on Lap 53 when Jay Howard got out of the groove in Turn 2, hit the outside retaining wall coming down the track and collected pole-sitter Scott Dixon. He's won five times at Indy - two straight and three of the last four - with other drivers behind the wheel.

"I have to say one thing, I want to thank Shell and Team Penske for giving me a competitive auto". I know they were flying over from Japan today. But my manager said, "Come on, you've got five minutes to go for the interview.' OK, so now it's real". He walked to a waiting ambulance while the race was placed under red flag and crews began to clean up debris scattered over hundreds of feet in the accident caused when Dixon's vehicle collided with that of Jay Howard. Rivals marvelled at how quickly he'd got up to speed, with several observers in the Indianapolis paddock commenting that he looked more at ease after seven days than some of his rivals did on their third or fourth visits to the Brickyard. "It's lovely. I dreamed of something like this since I was 12".

"I just got to believe myself, believe what the auto is capable of", Sato said. Before Alonso's failure, 2014 victor Ryan Hunter-Reay lost his engine. "I think I said this a few years ago, maybe I was meant to win it a ton of times as an owner".

"I came here basically to challenge myself, prove myself", said Alonso, who closed his news conference by chugging on a small carton of milk to much laughter. "I have to say he did a very good job", said the three-time victor. "It was a bit of a rough ride", said Dixon.

There were no immediate signs of injury, but Dixon, the 2008 Indy victor and a four-time IndyCar champion, returned to the care center later complaining of a sore ankle.

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