LONG BEACH, Calif. – Takuma Sato became the first Japanese driver to win an IndyCar race on Sunday in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
The win came in Satos 52nd career start, and was the first for A.J. Foyt Racing since Airton Dare won Kansas in 2002. Only the Texan wasnt on hand to make his first-ever trip to Long Beachs Victory Lane – a sciatic nerve that will require surgery forced him to watch the race on television at home.
The victory on the temporary street course through Long Beach – where Foyt never won as a driver or team owner – was a huge accomplishment for the organization. A.J. Foyt Racings last win on a street or road course was with Foyt behind the wheel at Silverstone in 1978.
It was an easy win, said the diminutive Sato, who leapt into the arms of his crew members in Victory Lane. It was just a perfect weekend to be honest. The team did a tremendous job. Pit stops, right calls, the power was great and I was comfortable in the car and able to push everything.
From Texas, Foyt said via telephone the last five laps were the longest five laps of anything.
Weve had a lot of drivers, but none of them wanted to win, Foyt said, this boy wants to win.
His son, Larry Foyt, runs the day-to-day operations of the team and said he hated that his dad couldnt be at the track for the win.
We hate it because he is definitely our big leader and he is the big boss man, Larry Foyt said. This is for him.
Foyt is scheduled to have surgery Wednesday in Texas, but said hes pushing to have it moved up at Tuesday because he wants to shorten his recovery period.
I just cant walk very far and I want to get this healed up because I am definitely going to be at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Foyt said.