INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Takuma Sato held out his fists and flashed his oversized 2017 and 2020 Indianapolis 500 championship rings that spend more time in safekeeping than as a daily accessory.
The rings can be a bit much for a driver who still lives in an upstairs bedroom in the house of his long-time business manager in suburban Indianapolis.
“They’re way too big. Chunky,” Sato said, laughing. “I do wear them for special occasions. But an everyday ring is coming.”
Uncomfortable, perhaps, at the oversized rocks, Sato jokes he can still squeeze a third championship ring on one more finger.
Also on the horizon, the overdue victory celebration at Indianapolis Motor Speedway he was denied off one of the weirdest Indy 500′s ever.
The 44-year-old Japanese driver — who flirted with another Indy 500 victory in 2012 — wants another win, yes, to cement his legacy as one of the Brickyard’s greats, but also to enjoy the spoils of victory.
The pandemic pushed the 2020 race until August making Sato, the first Japanese-born driver to win the Indianapolis 500, the shortest-reigning champion at just nine months.
Sato held off Scott Dixon and won under caution last year in a mostly unsatisfying finish, and his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team held a muted victory celebration inside a largely empty track.
“It was kind of a crushing thing in a lot of ways, but yet we had a race and it was a great race,” team owner and 1986 Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal said. “It was too bad we couldn’t share it with people live, at least with spectators, but it’s great coming back, great to see people.”
Sato couldn’t even bring the Borg-Warner Trophy home to Japan for a victory tour as he did to great fanfare in 2017.
Sato’s Indy wins stamped him as one of…
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