Montoya, Sato battle adds to drama in closing laps at Long Beach

(Getty Images)

It was one of the best battles seen thus far this season in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

In a classic matchup in the closing laps of Sunday’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Juan Pablo Montoya was fighting tooth-and-nail, protecting every inch of ground on the street course in an attempt to keep Takuma Sato from passing him.

While they weren’t going for the win, their duel for fourth place was as compelling a match as Scott Dixon trying to run down Simon Pagenaud for the win.

“The last few laps, obviously, all the way we tried to save fuel and use the push to pass,” Sato said. “We never gave up.”

Sato earned his first top-five and second top-10 of the season. It was his best showing since finishing runner-up in the second Belle Isle race last season.

Takuma Sato

“It was nearly side-by-side crossing the finish line and we needed a little bit more. I thought we had a good time for this one. (Montoya) was also strong. What an amazing job for this A.J. Foyt team, to come back strongly under difficult circumstances. I think we had a difficult practice session but we kept cool, saved fuel and it was a good battle all the way through.”

By finishing fourth, Montoya earned his second top-five and third overall top-10 of the season in the first three races of 2016.

“We had a very fast Verizon Chevy, but we just had a hard time getting to the front,” he said. “Track position is pretty important here and we lost some early when I made a mistake and we fell behind Will (Power).

“They just had more top end speed. We did a good job and battled back but it wasn’t enough. Congratulations to Simon and the No. 22 team. That’s a great win for him and Team Penske.”

Pagenaud opened his lead in the standings over Scott Dixon to 14 points, while Montoya is ranked third in the Verizon IndyCar Series, 28 points behind his teammate.

“I want to beat him,” Montoya said of Pagenaud. “He did a great job. He’s got two seconds and a win; it’s really good. The hard thing is we all keep finishing there.

“… It was kind of a short race. It was funny because most street courses are three stops, this one you can barely make it in two. So you’ve got to be stretching your fuel all day, but that was okay.”

Going back to Sato, his fifth-place finish in Sunday’s race boosts him to sixth place in the standings, 61 points behind Pagenaud.

Sato received a somewhat painful remembrance of his joust with Montoya, but it was a pain he didn’t mind.

“My hand is still shaking and has a big blister on it,” Sato told NBCSN. “With the steering wheel shaking, it’s difficult and it was high downforce and reliable, which is nice and we like to be fast.

“I’m not complaining about it, I like it,” he added about the blister. “… Obviously, fifth is not the best or what we wanted, but with the way we were today, it was a great finish from the team.”

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Max Verstappen is PointsBet favorite to score sixth staight in 2022 Singapore Grand Prix

PointsBet 2022 Singapore odds
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Max Verstappen is the PointsBet Sportsbook odds favorite to win the 2022 Singapore Grand Prix on the Marina Bay Street course to stretch his current win streak to six consecutive. He shows odds of -200 this week.

Formula 1 did not compete in Singapore in 2020 or 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Verstappen has podium finishes in his last two attempts on this track. he was second in 2018 and third in 2019. In the first 15 races of this season, he has failed to stand on the podium only twice and has an average finish of 2.73.

With minus odds, the way to determine a payout is by subtraction. In order for a bettor to earn $100, he must wager $200 this week; with that wager, he will get back his initial stake and winnings of $100.

For bettors more comfortable with fractional odds, a bet of +300 is the same as 3/1.

Charles Leclerc is ranked second this week with +400 odds. He has two previous Singapore GP starts to his credit with a best of second in 2019. He is coming off back-to-back podium finishes with a third in the Dutch GP and a second at Monza.

Ranked third is Carlos Sainz, Jr. with a line of +1100. He has top-five finishes in four of his last five starts, but only one of these, a third in the Belgian GP, was on the podium. Sainz is one of four winners other than Verstappen this season. His victory came in the British GP.

Lewis Hamilton shows a line of +1200. His last win came last fall in the Saudi Arabian GP and the Mercedes team has struggled to contend for victory in 2022. They are improving, however, with eight top-fives in the last nine races. Hamilton has two wins in his last three Singapore starts, which came in 2017 and 2018.

Rounding out the top five is Hamilton’s teammate George Russell at +1800. He has not won, but has shown remarkable consistency with top-fives in all but one race. Notably, his only bad finish came in his home GP in England. Russell has one previous start at Marina Bay; he finished last in the 2019 race. He finished fourth in 2019 as part of a four-race streak of top-fives.

The most recent Singapore GP winner from 2019, Sebastian Vettel is a longshot at +50000.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner, and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.

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