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Indy 500: Franchitti, Sato row over crash

The Indianapolis 500 was decided by a controversial crash at the start of the final lap of the race; did Franchitti cause it intentionally, or was it a case of red mist from Sato?
The winner of the 2012 Indianapolis 500 was effectively decided just after the white flag came out, when Takuma Sato spun trying to overtake Dario Franchitti going into turn 1 on the final lap.

It proved a controversial way for the 96th running of the race to finish, with opinions split between whether the reigning IZOD IndyCar champion and now three-time Indy 500 champion had blocked and wrecked his opponent deliberately, or whether Takuma Sato had pushed his luck and got what he deserved for a moment of rash opportunism.

"I thought I had the job done," said a disappointed Sato. "On the very last lap, I had a good tow from Dario," he said. "But he kept pushing and didn't give me enough room, so that I was well below the white line ... I mean almost on the grass.

"The moment I was alongside Dario I said to myself 'Job done,'" he explained. "I was hoping that coming out of turn 1 side-by-side with Dario we would take the lead going to turn 2 and turn 3. It didn't work out that way though.

"He could have given a little bit more space and we would have come out of the corner no problem," he insisted. "Into turn 1 I was well below the white line. It was in the centre of the monocoque. I was almost in the grass and the car started sliding."

Franchitti said that he had not blocked the Japanese driver when Sato had made his move down the inside of the Target Ganassi car.

"I heard my spotter say, 'He's got a run on you, he's coming up.' I was moving over. I look in the mirror. I see exactly where he was. I started moving back," explained Franchitti. "We're allowed to - what did they say - move over to the wall and leave the car behind a car width and an inch. I wanted to make sure I left more than that. My plan from that point was, deep gulp, I knew I had to go around the outside of one wide open up toward the grey [marbles] to stand a chance of winning.

"Takuma, he lost the rear," continued Dario. "I watched the replay on the TV. He lost the rear on the way in. I felt the hit. The car got sideways. I kept my foot in, and that was it."

While not exactly wild about having to deal with Sato's gambit down the inside at the start of the final lap, he entirely understood the Japanese driver's motivation.

Related Pictures

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Takuma Sato prepares for the final Honda Indy Japan at Motegi. [Picture credit: Daniel Incandela for IndyCar Media]
Dario Franchitti looks on form the pit lane at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. [Picture credit: IndyCar Media]
Leader Dario Franchitti (#50) forces challenger Takuma Sato (#15) as low as possible entering turn one on the 200th and final lap. Sato crashed with Franchitti going on to win. 96th Indianapolis 500 - Indianapolis Motor Speedway - 27 May 2012. (c)2012, F. Peirce Williams.LAT Photo USA. LAT Photo USA (Photo Credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA)
Challenger Takuma Sato (#15) slides toward the wall as leader Dario Franchitti (#50) and Scott Dixon (#9) slip by. Franchitti went on to win. 96th Indianapolis 500 - Indianapolis Motor Speedway - 27 May 2012. (c)2012, F. Peirce Williams.LAT Photo USA. LAT Photo USA (Photo Credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA)
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Indycar - Unregistered

May 28, 2012 1:07 PM

Sato's problem was the white line. Driver's were crashing on it all day. He was a little too ambitious and should have waited a little longer. It was a bonzai move that didn't work out.


May 28, 2012 4:23 PM

why does everybody want to blame someone. I think both guys did exactly what they should of, Dario left just enough room and Sato saw a gap and went for it, it was a racing accident. Maybe Dario was a little harsh but he was trying to win the INDY 500!!!

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