On F1 Fanatic Live we were wondering if this was the first win for a Japanese driver in IndyCar, including its various related formulae?
@keithcollantine: Did a bit of late-night research and Sato appears indeed to be the first japanese driver to ever win an IndyCar race (including its other various formats AAA, USAC, CART and ChampCar).
The closest a japanese fella has ever come to winning an open-wheel american race was through Hideki Mutoh (2nd in 2008, 3rd in 2009 – both on Iowa Speedway) and Kosuke Matsuura (4th in 2004 on Kentucky Speedway, 4th in 2007 on Michigan International Speedway).
Sato also has two other IndyCar podiums and three other top-five finishes under his belt, which pretty much make him the most successful japanese driver to ever race in IndyCar.
Hideki Mutoh also won two races, scored an extra five podium finishes and ended up second in the final standings of the 2007 Indy Pro Series (Indy Lights) season.
Sato became the first japanese driver to ever win a street-course IndyCar or Indy Lights race. His other two podiums were also achieved on road-courses.
And even more team-related facts:
- Sato’s win ended an 11 years drought for A.J. Foyt Enterprises.
- The last driver to win a race for them was Airton Dare in 2002.
- It’s only the team’s 8th win in its 34-years history of participations in CART or IndyCar sanctioned events.
- Sato became the 5th driver to ever win a race for them (after Scott Sharp, Kenny Brack, Billy Boat and, of course, Airton Dare). Out of the team’s four past winners, two went on and became Indy Racing League champions (Sharp and Brack, in 1996 and 1998 respectively). Both won their titles while still driving for Foyt.
- All of A.J. Foyt Enterprises’ other 7 wins came on ovals (including the team’s only Indy 500 win through Kenny Brack in 1999).