SPORTS

Indianapolis 500: Takuma Sato holds off Castroneves for first Brickyard win

Takuma Sato passed Helio Castroneves with five laps to go Sunday to win the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The Japanese driver, who wrecked on the final lap while dueling Dario Franchitti for the lead in 2012, managed to hold off Castroneves over the final laps to give Andretti Autosport its second consecutive victory and third in the last four years.

Castroneves was denied a fourth Borg-Warner Trophy, which would have placed the Brazilian alongside A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears as the only four-time victors at the Brickyard. Castroneves was followed by IndyCar rookie Ed Jones, Englishman Max Chilton and 2013 winner Tony Kanaan.

Sato had joined the Andretti team just this season and had largely been overlooked as the Andretti camp expanded to six cars for the 500 with the addition of Formula One driver Fernando Alonso.

It never seemed to spread the team too thin, and the main issue facing Andretti Autosport was the reliability of its Honda engines. Alonso put on a thrilling show and even led 27 laps -- third most in the race -- but the two-time Formula One champion was sent to the paddock when his engine blew with 20 laps remaining.

The Honda teams had a clear horsepower advantage over Chevrolet, but the engine maker had serious questions about reliability. Before Alonso's failure, 2014 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay lost his engine. Hunter-Reay had led 28 laps and was a strong contender late.

A joyful Sato dumped a bottle of 2 percent milk over his head, received a kiss from the Indy 500 Princess and raised his finger in the air.

Michael Andretti ran down pit lane to reach Sato's crew, then rushed to victory lane to hug his driver, the first Japanese winner of the Indy 500.

"It was a tough, tough, race. Helio really drives well," Sato said. "It was a fantastic race."

As for the difference between 2012, when Sato crashed in the first turn of the final lap racing Franchitti, Sato said his strategy this year was perfect.

"I was pointing in the right direction into (Turn) One," he said.

Castroneves was disappointed to fall short of the four-time winners club.

"I really thought we had it," the Brazilian said.

Max Chilton finished third, the highest driver for Chip Ganassi Racing, and was followed by former 500 winners Tony Kanaan and Juan Pablo Montoya.

Alonso, who had a spectacular race, simply feel victim to his engine in the waning laps. The crowd gave him a standing ovation as he climbed from his car.

"I felt the noise, the engine friction, I backed off and I saw the smoke and yeah, it's a shame," Alonso said. "It's a very nice surprise to come here with big names, big guys, the best in open-wheel racing and be competitive."

Pole sitter Scott Dixon, already having a rough week because he was robbed at gunpoint at Taco Bell hours after turning the fastest qualifying effort in 21 years, was knocked out of the race in a terrifying crash in which his car sailed through the air and landed cockpit-first atop the inside safety fence. Dixon's car was split in two amid sparks and flames.

The tub of the car remained intact and the 2008 champion was able to climb out on his own to a roar from the crowd. He walked to a waiting ambulance while the race was placed under red flag and crews began to clean up debris scattered over hundreds of feet.

"Just a little beaten up there. It was definitely a rough ride," Dixon said. "We had a great shot. We had gotten a little loose but they had dialed it in."

Dixon had collided with Jay Howard, who blamed the incident on Hunter-Reay. He was a couple of laps down when Hunter-Reay tried to get around him and that forced him to the top of the track, where he wound up hitting the wall.

That impact sent Howard across the track, where Dixon had nowhere to go.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.