Takuma Sato snatched his second Indianapolis 500 victory on Sunday as he held off Scott Dixon and ultimately won under caution at an Indianapolis Motor Speedway left empty because of the coronavirus pandemic.
IndyCar officials declined to throw a red flag after a violent crash by Spencer Pigot with just a handful of laps remaining. Pigot needed medical attention on the track, the crash scene was a debris field, and there was no way the race could resume without a stoppage.
Dixon, the five-time IndyCar champion who had dominated the race, asked on his radio if IndyCar was going to give the drivers a final shootout to the checkered flag, NASCAR style.
“Are they going red?” Dixon asked. “They’ve got to go red. There’s no way they can clean that up.”
IndyCar never threw the flag, and Sato led Dixon across the finish line under yellow. Dixon, who led 111 of the 200 laps in pursuit of his own second Indy win, was visibly disappointed.
“Definitely a hard one to swallow for sure. We had such a great day,” Dixon said. “First time I’ve seen them let it run out like that. I thought they’d throw a red.”
Unlike NASCAR, which typically sets up two-lap shootouts to the finish when a caution interrupts the ending, IndyCar rarely follows the same procedure. The series did throw a late red in the 2014 Indy 500, and it infuriated purists.
Adobe stock photo, not actual winning car. Story courtesy of ESPN