Last season and the first seven races of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season have taken Takuma Sato on quite a roller-coaster ride.
In other words and in most cases, it’s been a story of one week up, and usually the next week down.
But it took rain, a crazy weekend and a twisting road course in the eighth race of 2015 to bring out some of the best in Sato on Sunday in the 2015 Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit No. 2, as the A.J. Foyt Racing driver finished a close second to winner Sebastien Bourdais.
“It was real close,” Sato said of the finish. “But I think we done most of what we could today, come back from the middle of the pack to finishing strong.”
It was Sato’s best finish since a runner-up showing more than two years ago at Sao Paulo, Brazil. His previous best finish this season was ninth in the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis last month.
“I’m really pleased to be back in here on the podium,” Sato said after Sunday’s race. “Yes, it was long and exciting. To be honest, it was crazy race for two days.”
And the height of craziness came late in Sunday’s race, when the red flag fell for a major crash. Then, as cleanup took place, IndyCar officials converted the race from a distance event to a timed finish.
Think of it as IndyCar’s version of a green-white-checkered event, as there were only three laps run before the checkered flag fell, with Bourdais finishing first and Sato right behind him.
Bourdais essentially doing a stutter step on the restart, which jammed up the rest of the pack, caused concern among drivers, including Sato.
“Obviously I wanted to win the race, but I think Sebastien restart (on Lap 66) was a little tricky. That really caught out Montoya, too. We should do steady acceleration from last corner. We all had to brake, which is not really what we talk about for the briefing.
“I leave it to IndyCar’s call for the regulations. But nevertheless, Seb did a good job of holding off. I try to go for the win for the rest of the season, of course.”
Once the pack finally got going, Sato did everything he could to catch and pass Bourdais, but the latter just had a better run in the closing laps.
“To be honest, it was difficult,” Sato said. “The restart was a great chance. Once get into the rhythm, I think he had a really fast car today, so he really – how can I say – has got a winner.
“I tried to catch him, try to overtake him. I had one chance on the back straight to come to white flag. Into turn seven it’s tricky. … If completely dry, I would commit to go side-by-side. But it was too risky. Obviously he did the holding line really well.
“I really disagree on his restart manipulation technique. Obviously other than that, he’s done everything he could. He’s the real winner today. (It’s a) shame, but I try next time.”
And there was one other consolation Sato could take: “No Penske, Ganassi on the podium,” he said. They’re the big teams, tough to beat. But I think, as I said, nothing is impossible. This is part of this great sport to give opportunity. I really love it.”