Sato lost top-five after contact. Photo: IndyCar

Bourdais takes blame for Sato clash; both lose top-fives at Mid-Ohio

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Neither Takuma Sato nor Sebastien Bourdais had much to be happy about after qualifying for Sunday’s Honda Indy 200; Sato and Bourdais lined up 20th and 16th for the 12th round of the Verizon IndyCar Series season at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Yet with both drivers – and their respective strategists Larry Foyt (Sato’s No. 14 ABC Supply Co. Honda) and Jimmy Vasser (Bourdais’ No. 11 Team Hydroxycut KVSH Racing Chevrolet) – calling their shots right during the race in terms of when to pit, they found themselves fourth and fifth with just five laps to go in the 90-lap race.

But what would have been great results for both of them went awry at Turn 4 on Lap 87, when Bourdais slid into the back of Sato, punting him off course and then following suit himself to get beached at “China Beach.”

Bourdais’ day was done but his car was left there, to only produce a local yellow.

Sato made it out of the contact in ninth place, a few spots lower than he figured he’d be, but still with his fifth finish of 11th or better in the last six races.

Bourdais was apologetic afterwards, taking the blame for the contact.

“Unfortunately, we got caught up behind with Takuma. He did a really good job at the restart, we bumped and was very aggressive. And then we got stuck behind him for the whole race,” Bourdais told NBC Sports post-race.

“I don’t know if I got growingly impatient or frustrated or lost my mind a little bit, but clearly I got into the back of him because I was trying to make something happen because I just felt like it was getting stupid to stay behind.

“I guess I just made a mistake, one way or another, we made contact and I was behind and so it was my bad. … We could have used the points and that finish. This is not the way you want to end a weekend.”

Sato explained the contact from his vantage point: “Heckuva day. Incredible job from the team. Larry called the perfect strategy even though it was a little bit optimistic when we came to pit. Later on we caught a good yellow and gained track position. Then we were fighting the whole field! It was like qualifying every lap. My ABC guys gave me a super pitstop to get me out on the last stop — then we were fighting for fourth.

“It’s a real shame what happened at the end (getting hit by Bourdais). We were able to salvage a ninth so still a good result for the second straight race. Looking forward to the last part of the season.”

Bourdais admitted as well he was happy it stayed as a local yellow, even though his mistake prevented anyone else from making a passing maneuver at one of the two best passing spots on the circuit.

“I wish they would do that more often, but in the meantime, if they were going to go retrieve the car, it wasn’t going to finish under green,” he said.

“Obviously, if you leave the car there and get me out of the seat, you wave double yellow flags and there’s nothing wrong with that. But obviously the only place where you can pass is neutralized. I think it was good fans got a green finish.”

The two also discussed the incident on Twitter after it happened, basically taking the above quotes and turning them into 140-character byte-sized messages.

Perhaps ironically the two of them are also next to each other in the points standings. Bourdais (283 points) and Sato (257) sit 14th and 15th in the championship, although both drivers have had better years than those positions would indicate.

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.