April 21 in Motorsports History: Takuma Sato scores first IndyCar win

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For the first 10 seasons of his career, Takuma Sato went winless in professional open-wheel racing. His biggest claim to fame to that point was a failed attempt to take the lead from Dario Franchitti on the last lap of the 2012 Indy 500.

But that changed on April 21, 2013, as Sato won the Grand Prix of Long Beach to become the first Japanese winner in professional motorsports.

Takuma Sato celebrates after winning the 2013 Grand Prix of Long Beach. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images)

Sato started the 39th edition of the race from fourth and took the lead on Lap 31 for good. He led the final 50 laps and won by 5.3 seconds ahead of Graham Rahal.

Aside from being the first victory for Sato in IndyCar competition, it was the first victory for A.J. Racing in more than 10 years. Foyt’s last victory came at Kanas Speedway on July 7, 2002 with Airton Dare behind the wheel.

Unfortunately, Foyt was not in attendance that weekend as he was at his ranch in Texas preparing for a surgery on his sciatic nerve, but that did not stop the team from celebrating.

Upon entering Victory Lane, Sato himself waved the Japanese flag and leaped into the arms of a crewman as confetti flew all around him.

“I can’t find the words,” Sato told NBCSN. “The boys have done a tremendous job. The car was great. Pit stops were perfect. Great calls. Just an incredible feeling. … This is just amazing. I’m really happy with the team. Thank you to all our sponsors and A.J. for such a fantastic opportunity.”

Also on this date:

1985: Ayrton Senna won the Grand Prix of Portugal, his first victory in Formula One. Senna became one of the greatest drivers in F1 history, with 41 victories and three World Championships (1988, 1990-91). before a fatal crash during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

2007: Tony Kanaan took the lead with five laps remaining in the Indy Japan 300 and held off Dan Wheldon to claim his first of five victories that season.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter @michaele1994

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.