Indianapolis 500 declined classic finish because 2020 wins once again

Scott Dixon went on to win the Indianapolis 500. Then Takuma Sato went on to win the Indianapolis 500. Then, with the ‘laps to go’ counter to some numbers and Dixon making his plan to make a run at Sato, while second-generation racer Graham Rahal waited for them both to finish third, we had no idea who that would win the Indianapolis 500. In that moment, we were all destined to win the day, three months of patience and irritation and compromise to finally pay with the gift of a classic finish all-time.

But in the end, the true winner of the 104th edition of The Greatest Spectacle in Racing was the same undefeated champion who has dominated all aspects of our lives lately.


After two weeks of traveling at some of the fastest speeds in the history of the Indy 500, the month of May-turned month of August was led to the checkered flag by Sato, when he crossed the front street at well under half. of the speed he was accustomed to earning his starting spot in the field a week earlier. His Honda-powered Dallara sat behind the Easter car when a yellow flag waved next to those checkers, everything happened at a slow pace that caused the empty grandstands that we could all ignore for 3 hours, 10 minutes got a lot of television time.

Damn it.

“I can not change that. It’s what it is,” said Dixon after he was denied his shot at a second Indy win, and finished second after a dominant day, leading 111 of 200 laps. “I think it would have been interesting to see how that played out. But we’ll never know, will we?”

No, we will not. With five rounds left and the game seemingly threatening, Sato and Rahal’s teammate Spencer Pigot crashed hard in Turn 4. Pigot was rattled and taken care of by security personnel. The waste field was large. There was no way it could be cleaned in time to start the race again, so IndyCar Race Control had to decide: Must break it all under a red flag so the track could be cleared for a dash again start? Or should these security personnel do their job and end the incident with caution? Dixon shouted out on the radio, captivating the minds of millions of fans of the race, not one of whom personally attended the race. “Are they going red? They must be red!”

They did not.

It was not the wrong call. But it was a frustrating call. It did not leave us satisfied. It left us restless. It left us sitting alone in our living rooms to produce through everything produced by the empty hole made by what we had just been denied.

Feel free to copy and paste this sentence into any conversation you have about anything that happened – or rather, did not happen – during this virus-transmitted year.

“I do not know,” said Bobby Rahal, the 1986 Indy 500 champion, co-owner of Sato’s team and father to finisher Graham Rahal in third place. “Start over at the end of the race, who knows who has the advantage? Young in second place, fourth place, third place? I find it silly to sit there and try to predict what might have happened “The reality is Takuma won. This is not the first 500 to be flagged under yellow. It was very crazy.”

Since 1940, a total of 16 Indianapolis 500s have crashed under caution, including a stretch of four straight from 2010 to 2013. That the letdown of the 500 finishes at speeds you and I drive on the interstate is certain nothing new. But this year’s anticlimax was harder to deepen, as almost every finish since that last yellow flag that ended in 2013 was an exciting ride, two of which involved Sato himself. And not one of those other races was kept afloat on the thin, emotional ice of these, the ever-present bursts of life in a pandemic.

Sato spoke, however, moments after he became Indy 500 champion the 20th multiple times, about the fan-free setting of the race, describing it as “no happy place, of course not.”

He returned on Saturday, when instead of attending the traditional Indianapolis downtown parade, the racers went to Speedway, Indiana’s Main Street, to deliver souvenirs to longtime Indy ticket holders who ‘ t their presence streaks brought by COVID-19.

“A guy, [in] “In 1964, he said he came here just because he wanted the address of Speedway and Indianapolis in his life,” Sato said. He said today, he will pull the chair in the garden and watch the TV, and in fact he can hear [the race] of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He’s happy. Of course he wanted to come, but he’s happy. It’s great to see that. That’s why we’re not physically here, we know her heart is here. “

From the fan in his yard to the hundreds who parked around the racetrack on Sunday – strategically lined up against the holes in the grandstands, where they could hear the cars and see the video cards from the infield – to the millions who watched the race on TV from home, all her heart was there. Even if they were a little broken by that damn yellow flag.

“Nobody in the stands, we all know the reason for that. We’re all sorry about that, we wish it could have been different,” said David Letterman. The late-night TV legend and Indianapolis native is Rahal’s team-owner partner. “I hope in some small way the joy we experience here can be shared by people who could see this race in the United States and around the world. It’s a small contribution, but maybe it’s meaningful. “

It’s significant. No one doubts that. Just because no one, including Scott Dixon, was happy for Takuma Sato, one of Gasoline Alley’s most endearing characters. But years from now, when we look back at the 104th Indianapolis 500, we probably will not remember what we had, what Sato did, or how meaningful the experience was.

No, we will always think first and foremost back to what we were denied. Therefore, 2020 has won once again.