The Herald Bulletin

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April 23, 2013

Ken de la Bastide: IndyCar off to fast start

Until this past weekend Takuma Sato was remembered in racing circles for the bonsai move he made on the final lap of last year’s Indianapolis 500.

Sato attempted to take the lead from Dario Franchitti with a risky move underneath the eventual winner entering turn one. The end result was Sato came to a stop along the outside retaining wall. But it was a move he had to attempt to win the Indy 500.

Given another shot in the IZOD IndyCar Series with legendary driver and car owner A.J. Foyt, Sato scored the victory at Long Beach on Sunday. It was the first win for Foyt’s team in more than a decade. The last street or road course win was in 1978 at Silverstone, England with A.J. at the wheel.

Unfortunately for the team A.J. was not in California, but in Texas because of medical issues.

For IndyCar it marked the second time in three races that the series had a first time winner. Sato joins James Hinchcliffe on the winner’s list.

Defending champion Ryan Hunter-Reay is the other 2013 winner.

Like in NASCAR, IndyCar in recent years has been dominated by the Ganassi Racing, Andretti Autosports and Penske Racing teams.

But there appears to be a changing of the guard taking place in some respects.

Andretti Autosports has two wins this year with Hinchcliffe and Hunter-Reay recording victories.

What has been encouraging is the fact that several drivers are in a position to win races in 2013 and challenge for the championship.

Charlie Kimball, Graham Rahal, Justin Wilson, Simona de Silvestro, Oriol Servia and rookie Tristan Vautier have all proven to be competitive at times this year.

Franchitti has struggled thus far during the season with his fourth place finish at Long Beach the best result, teammate Scott Dixon finished 11th.

For Penske Racing the best finish last weekend was recorded by Helio Castroneves at 10th with Will Power coming home in 16th and A.J. Allmendinger 23rd.

The series travels to Brazil for another street course during the first weekend in May before the Indianapolis 500.

The racing has been exciting to open the 2013 season, but I still wish there was a race on an oval track before the “500”. Maybe next year.

In other racing news: New Castle resident Caleb Armstrong is scheduled to drive for Venturi Motorsports at the ARCA race this Sunday at Salem Speedway.

It is the first of three races scheduled in the Hoosier State for the ARCA drivers. There is a July date at Winchester Speedway and a return to Salem in September.

Armstrong has been competing in a USAC Midget this season and is currently the point leader.

John Wes Townley won the ARCA season opener at Daytona and Grant Enfinger won at the Mobile (AL) Speedway. Southern Indiana favorites Frank Kimmel and Will Kimmel are expected to compete along with Milka Duno.

•For those watching the IndyCar race on NBCSports there was some interesting activities to observe during the pre-race show.

Townsend Bell drove a lap around the Long Beach circuit to show how demanding it was on a driver and the need to pay close attention. While Bell was turning the lap, Wally Dallenbach Jr. was doing his best to distract him, one time shooting “Silly String” on Bell’s face.

Ken de la Bastide’s racing column appears on Wednesdays.

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