Takuma Sato didn’t just win from the pole in Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park. He absolutely dominated.
The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver led 74 of 90 laps on the way to his fourth career NTT IndyCar Series victory, recovering from a minor late-race mistake that put him off track to hang on for the win over Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon. Sato has now won races in three consecutive seasons, having taken the 2017 Indianapolis 500 win while racing for Andretti Autosport and winning in the sport’s return to Portland International Raceway last fall in his return to RLL.
Dixon’s runner-up finish was his eighth podium in 10 years at the track and his sixth runner-up finish, although he has yet to win at Barber. Sebastien Bourdais completed the podium, giving Honda a podium sweep. Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden was the top Chevrolet driver in fourth, and he maintains a 27-point championship lead over Dixon through three of 17 races.
Unfortunately for RLL, any hopes of replicating their sweep of the front row with a 1-2 finish were dashed when Graham Rahal stopped on course on lap 57. Rahal admitted that he had fought a stuck throttle all weekend, going back to qualifying, but still managed to claim a bonus point for leading a lap to soften the blow. An incident between Max Chilton and Tony Kanaan at the entrance to pit road on the same lap was the only other blemish on what was mostly a clean race.
Behind Newgarden and Dixon, Sato, Alexander Rossi, and Circuit of the Americas winner Colton Herta complete the top five in points. The spread from Dixon to Herta is just 17 points, making more position changes likely at next weekend’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. Rossi, the defending Long Beach winner, will aim for his first podium of the season after taking two fifth-place finishes in the first three races of the year.
Check out Jason Swoboda’s top photos from this weekend’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama below: