Takuma Sato shut out the field to win the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park after taking the pole on Saturday.

The 42-year-old Japanese driver took his fourth NTT IndyCar Series win on the heels of leading 74 of 90 laps and building up a 2.3874 second on Scott Dixon at the end.

 Sato beat Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing teammate Graham Rahal to Turn one at the green flag as Rahal fell into the clutches of Scott Dixon. Ed Carpenter Racing driver Ed Jones made some action behind them, leaping from 17th to fourth but was given a drive through penalty for jumping the start.

Sato stretched out a comfortable second margin over his teammate during the opening stint before making his first pitstop on Lap 17. The stop nearly spelled disaster for the nine-year IndyCar veteran as a stuck lug nut extended the top to 11 seconds.

Rahal and Dixon stopped on Lap 19 later with Dixon coming out ahead as Rahal’s crew attempted to repair a stuck throttle. Sato’s slow stop didn’t hinder his progress much as he cycled in front of Dixon when stops were complete.

James Hinchcliffe and Alexander Rossi led one lap a piece before making their respective stops. That handed the lead over to Sebastien Bourdais on Lap 20 who was on a two-stop strategy.

The four-time Indy car champ relinquished the lead back to Sato on Lap 28 who was 4.2 seconds up on Dixon.

Sato maintained that gap throughout the stint before stopping for the second time on Lap 37. Dixon followed suit a lap later which handed the lead over to Rossi for a couple of laps before he made his next stop.

Sato emerged as the leader with Bourdais’ two-stop strategy moving him up to second place, albeit seven seconds in arrears to Sato.

He continued his blistering pace until Lap 56 when his RLL teammate Rahal stopped on course with a mechanical issue. Simultaneously, Max Chilton crashed at pit in following contact with Tony Kanaan.

INDYCAR officials waited to throw the yellow flag until everyone had a chance to pit with Sato coming out ahead while Dixon leapfrogged Bourdais for second with a quick pitstop.

Sato saw some good fortune as the lapped car of Matheus Leist lined up between him and Dixon when the race restarted on Lap 65.

With Leist as a pick, Sato broke away while Dixon kept Bourdais at bay. Sato had an exciting moment on Lap 85 when he locked up in Turn 8 and drove off course. That allowed Dixon to close slightly, but Sato rebuilt his gap up to cross the line 2.3874s ahead.

Dixon settled for second for the sixth time at Barber while holding off Bourdais who claimed his best career finish at Barber.

Josef Newgarden maintained his points lead following a scrappy battle with Alexander Rossi late in the going to finish fourth while Rossi rounded out the top five.

Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports drivers filled the next two spots led by James Hinchcliffe in sixth and former Formula 1 pilot Marcus Ericsson vaulted from 20th on the grid to finish seventh, his best IndyCar finish to date.

Two-time Barber winner Ryan Hunter-Reay finished eighth followed by 2016 race winner Simon Pagenaud in ninth and Felix Rosenqvist rounding out the top ten.

Will Power had an uncharacteristic day as he was mired in traffic and spun on his own on Lap 26 which prompted an extra pitstop for fresh Firestones. He was poised to claim a top ten but ran out of fuel on the final lap which dropped him to twelfth in the order.

COTA winner Colton Herta battled fuel pickup issues throughout the day and took his Harding Steinbrenner Racing Honda behind the wall on Lap 31 which left him finishing dead last in 24th.  

 

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