Takuma Sato impressed on his oval debut on Saturday in the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway, although sadly he was deprived of a top-six finish following a late collision with Hideki Mutoh.
Sato, who started eleventh in the #5 Lotus-KVRT Honda/Dallara/Firestone machine, had fought his way past the likes of Will Power, Victor Meira, Danica Patrick and Ryan Hunter-Reay before his misfortune with just 14 laps to go. He was eventually classified in 24th place.
"Today was a very exciting day for me being my first oval race," Sato reflected. "I was running in sixth place with 14 laps to go when a yellow flag came out. There was a pack in front on the restart while I was racing Hideki (Mutoh) side-by-side. It looked like he was pushing up to the wall and I had nowhere to go.
"After having a conversation with Hideki, he was being pushed up into me by the lapped orange car [Simona de Silvestro]. We both had nowhere to go. It's very, very unfortunate. I feel bad for the fans, particularly for all of the Japanese fans and all of Hideki's fans.
"The KV Racing Technology Lotus Team did a fantastic job though. It's just frustrating and I'm very disappointed not to finish. However I really enjoyed racing with many great drivers and gaining a lot of positions as well as understanding how oval racing works."
Mutoh was similarly very upset: "Taku was on the outside but in the last turn a car was also on the inside and it came up (on the track) so there was no where to go. This is very unfortunate because we had a very good race up to that point and I didn't want to crash Taku because I respect him a lot.
"The next race is Indy now though so I will put it out of my mind and try to race up front again. I think the Formula Dream / Panasonic team could have had a fourth place result today. Top three would have been difficult but fourth place was possible. It's is a shame we ended the race early."