Photo: Dan R. Boyd

Borg-Warner Trophy to visit Japan in first ever trip outside U.S.

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You know the saying “if only this and this could talk, oh the stories it could tell?”

The 82-year-old Borg-Warner Trophy no doubt, if it could talk, would have a wealth of stories to provide from all the winners and 104 faces that have graced it over the years. The trophy, awarded to the winner of the Indianapolis 500, has never before been outside the U.S.

That will change this week, with the trophy heading to Japan in honor of this year’s 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil winner, Takuma Sato. It will be present for a couple weeks.

Sato saw his likeness on the Borg-Warner Trophy revealed in October at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, in an earlier event than normal as part of his hectic travel schedule. But he was even more happy than normal when his face was revealed.

Now, Japan will be the first country outside the U.S. – not even Canada, Mexico, England or Italy – to witness the Borg-Warner Trophy. Incidentally, the sterling silver trophy stands 5 foot 4, 3/4 inches tall and weighs 110 pounds – nearly identical to Sato’s proportions of 5 foot 4 and 117 pounds!

Photo: Dan R. Boyd

“BorgWarner is thrilled to be bringing the Borg-Warner Trophy to Japan to honor Takuma Sato the first Japanese driver to win the Indianapolis 500. It’s BorgWarner’s honor to help celebrate Honda’s 12th Indy 500 win and Takuma’s first “500” win in their home country,” said Scott D. Gallett, Vice President of Marketing, BorgWarner Inc.

“We are very proud to show the Borg-Warner Trophy to the people of Japan, race fans, media members and our employees. This historic and iconic trophy which weighs 110 pounds and stands over 5 feet tall represents the wonderful history and tradition of the Indianapolis 500 and it’s winners dating back the first “500” in 1911.”

Sato, who won this year’s race with Andretti Autosport and will shift to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in 2018, is thrilled to witness his home country get to see the trophy in full regalia.

“I think it is very special that the Borg-Warner Trophy is traveling to Japan,” he said. “The trophy represents winning the greatest race in the world and I am very proud to have won the 2017 Indianapolis 500 and have my image on the trophy. For nearly two weeks the trophy will be seen throughout Japan by fans and media. I am honored to be the first Japanese driver to win the Indy 500 and extremely grateful the Borg-Warner Trophy will be traveling outside United States for the first time ever to celebrate my team’s and Honda’s accomplishments. Let’s do it again next year too!”

Photo: Dan R. Boyd

Here’s the preliminary itinerary for the Borg-Warner Trophy in Japan. More events could be added:

Borg-Warner Trophy Travels – 2017 Japan Tour

Tuesday, November 28th – Borg-Warner Trophy departs Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum for Japan via van to Detroit, MI.  Then is flown from Detroit, MI to Minneapolis, MN to Tokyo, Japan on Delta Airlines.

Thursday, November 30th – Borg-Warner Trophy arrives in Japan. Haneda Airport, Tokyo.

Sunday, December 3rd – Honda Racing THANKS DAY with Takuma Sato – Twin Ring Motegi.  Motegi, Japan

Wednesday, December 6th – BorgWarner Plant visit with Takuma Sato – Nabari, Japan

Thursday, December 7th – NSK Warner Plant visit – Fukuroi, Japan

Friday, December 8th – Honda World Headquarters – Tokyo, Japan

Saturday, December 9th – Honda World Headquarters – Tokyo, Japan

Sunday, December 10th – Takuma Sato Fan Day – Tokyo, Japan

Monday, December 11th – Takuma Sato Award Event – Tokyo, Japan

Tuesday, December 12th – Borg-Warner Trophy departs Haneda Airport on Delta Airlines to Minneapolis, MN to Detroit, MI then is driven to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum to complete trip.

Title contenders stumble on the streets of Toronto

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The championship picture of the Verizon IndyCar Series saw a massive shakeup after Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto. While points leader Scott Dixon ended up in victory lane, his third win on the streets of Toronto and his third win of the 2018 season, all of his championship rivals stumbled.

Josef Newgarden, the pole sitter and second-place man in championship – he trailed Dixon by 33 points entering Sunday – led from the pole and looked to be a contender for the win, but a Lap 34 restart saw his day come apart.

Newgarden ran wide exiting the final corner coming to the green flag and smacked the outside wall. He plummeted through the field and pitted under caution – for a Turn 1 pileup involving Graham Rahal, Max Chilton, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power, and Sebastien Bourdais – to allow the No. 1 Hitachi Chevrolet Team Penske group to examine the car for damage.

Newgarden continued on, but was never a contender the rest of the day, ultimately finishing ninth.

“I knew it would be low grip, but not zero grip. I just lost the front end completely,” Newgarden said in describing how the wall contact happened. “I feel terrible, it’s not fun to make a mistake.”

Alexander Rossi, who sits third in the championship, ran a steady sixth in the first stint until Lap 27, when contact with Will Power damaged his front wing. Rossi was then caught up in the melee on the Lap 34 restart, getting airborne over the left-front of his Andretti Autosport teammate Hunter-Reay.

Rossi again pitted for a new front wing – he had six stops in total – and ended up eighth on a day when he felt like a podium beckoned.

“It’s a pretty disappointing result. I don’t think we had the car to beat Scott (Dixon), but for sure with the problems that everyone had, we could’ve finished second. It’s been a difficult string of races,” Rossi said afterward.

Hunter-Reay, too, had a day forget. After going from sixth to third on the start, he spun his No. 28 DHL Honda into the Turn 3 Barrier on Lap 27. And like Rossi, he was caught up in the Lap 34 pileup, falling off the lead lap in the process.

Hunter-Reay languished in 16th at the checkered flag.

“It was a very unfortunate day and a big loss for us in points,” Hunter-Reay lamented. “The DHL Honda was running comfortable in third and pushing hard, but I had too much front brake lock and found the tire barrier – that’s my fault. Then after that, we got caught up in a wreck, which put us a lap down. From there we just fought to stay in front of the leader.”

Power, too, hit his struggles after the first stint, when contact with the Turn 11 wall, an incident similar to the one that his Team Penske teammate Newgarden had, bent the right-rear suspension of his No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet. He also had contact with Rossi later that lap.

Power lost two laps in the pits as the team made repairs, and he took the checkered flag in 18th.

“In the last corner, I brushed the wall and bent a rear toe link, so the car was a little bit out of whack. I didn’t even know that (Alexander) Rossi and I touched. I was just kind of trying to hang on until we got a yellow and could pit,” Power explained. “I’ve never had so many DNFs; not DNF for this race, but like a DNF in a season. Still, it’s kind of how this sport can go.”

All told, their struggles mean that Dixon leads the championship by 62 points over Newgarden. Rossi sits third, 70 points of the lead, followed by Hunter-Reay and Power, who sit 91 and 93 points out of the lead respectively.

And the next race, the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (July 29 on NBCSN) won’t make it easy for them to make up ground, as Dixon’s record there is astoundingly strong. The four-time IndyCar champion has five wins at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, his most recent triumph coming in 2014, a race in which he famously came from last on the grid (22nd) to win.

Conversely, Newgarden, Rossi, Hunter-Reay, and Power have a combined one win at Mid-Ohio (Newgarden, last year).

However, the likes of Newgarden and Rossi still appear confident that they can make up for their Toronto struggles.

“We have to move on now and try to pick it back up. With the championship battle, we’ve got a long way to go. This doesn’t help but look, we have plenty of racing (left),” said Newgarden. “We need to keep our head up here. We’re going to be just fine, we’ve got fast cars and the best in the business. If we get our mistakes sorted out, we’re going to be just fine.”

Rossi, who finished sixth at Mid-Ohio last year, echoed similar sentiment, and thinks Mid-Ohio presents an opportunity to get back on track.

“We’re very good at Mid-Ohio, we’re kind of circling Toronto and Mid-Ohio as two races we were going to be pretty good at, so we got to reset, man, and just execute,” Rossi explained afterward. “We’re fast. We’re there every weekend. That’s the important thing. It’s a lot harder to be outside the top 10 and looking for answers. We’re fighting for pole every weekend. We’re in the Fast Six virtually every weekend, so you’re putting yourself in position to have a good result, it hasn’t come really since Texas.”

The 2018 championship is far from over – the season-ending GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma being a double-points event helps ensure as much. But, if Dixon does claim the 2018 title, Toronto may be the race that serves as the turning point.

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