During Saturday’s qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, Takuma Sato bounced his Dale Coyne Racing Honda off the wall while pushing hard out of turn 2.
Normally that would put an immediate end to the qualification attempt, but the experienced Japanese driver knew that he had to stay in the throttle at over 230 MPH if at all possible.
Sato’s earlier run had been disqualified due to impeding Marco Andretti who was preparing for his own run, and approaching rain meant this might be his only chance to set a time.
After his run, which narrowly earned him a spot in Sunday’s Fat 12 qualifying round, Sato explained what went into the decision to continue his run.
“Two things happened. After I hit the wall or brushed the wall, shall we say, if the car starts wiggle, which means your drive train has been damaged and we should abort it.
“And also [the team] looks at the tire pressure. If there’s any indication of weakness on the tire pressure down the back straight, then you should avoid it too because of safety reason to go to turn three.
“Neither things happened, so obviously, when I brushed the wall, there’s two choices: Whether to go flat or not.
“As I said, it’s qualifying. I decided to go flat, and then basically it saved me in the bubble, but it was in P12. All in all, I think it was happy.”
Images from pit lane showed the scuffs and scrapes to the side of the car after the run, which included damage to the floor as well as the side of the wheels.
By securing the 12th fastest average speed, Sato will make another run on Sunday afternoon. If he is in the top half of that group, then he will be able to make one final run for pole.