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The Ignominious End to the 2020 Indianapolis 500

Updated: Aug 24, 2020

Takuma Sato comes in under caution to win second Indy 500 title

It was once called “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” And trust me when I say, the Indianapolis 500 is just that. Open-wheel racing is something akin to hockey for most fans. Once you’ve seen it live, you’re hooked.

I’ve sat in the paddock and watched these cars racing at over 200 miles per hour snap around the corner of turn one like they were shot out of a cannon. I’ve seen massive crashes, breakdowns (both cars and drivers), and I’ve cried watching these drivers celebrate their wins.

As a sports fan, 2020 has taken quite a bit away from my everyday life. Memorial Day weekend and the race itself was no exception. So yesterday, almost three months to the day after the 2020 Indianapolis 500 was scheduled to be run, was a day I was looking forward to.

2020, I give up. You win. You’re officially the worst. Because you managed to muck up the Indianapolis 500, along with tennis, hockey, baseball, college football, and possibly even the NFL. I’m sending you a glitter bomb. I’m flipping you off with both hands in front of your face. I’m so done with you.

For Takuma Sato, I’m sure that 2020 is going fantastically. He is now a two-time champion of the Indy 500, holding off five-time IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon to win under caution.

Let me say first, that my ranting is not at the expense of the health of a driver, thankfully. Spencer Pigot, Sato’s teammate as luck would have it, was involved in a massive crash with only five laps left to go. If you watch the video, scroll to the 1:40 mark, and see what I’m talking about. The good news is that Pigot was discharged from the hospital last night with no major injuries. But I digress.

For Dixon, the pain was real. He and Sato were about even on fuel efficiency and was planning to overtake him to claim his own second Borg-Warner trophy. But with the amount of debris the crash left on the track, and the fact that Pigot needed immediate medical attention, IndyCar had no option but to finish the race under caution and call it quits.

For IndyCar, like their friends at the NHL, NFL, MLB, et al, they were quick to note “there were too few laps remaining to gather the field behind the pace car, issue a red flag and then restart for a green-flag finish” in order to cover their asses for the fans, who like me, wanted to see a green flag finish.

This was an imperfect ending to a perfect race. The imperfect finish to what was supposed to be a perfect finish. Everything, aside from the lack of fans, was in place for us racing fans to eke out some level of satisfaction after being denied our Memorial Day tradition this year.

We had an Andretti on the pole for goodness’ sake! For the first time in 33 years at the Indy 500, a member of the Andretti family had qualified fastest for the race. For Marco Andretti, I can’t imagine living up to the pressure of that last name, and the weight that comes along with it. Not to mention the fact that everyone brings up that 51-year losing streak for your family too.

Good news. The streak lives on. 51 years and counting. Andretti was passed by Dixon on lap 1 and ultimately finished 13th. Proof as always that you don’t necessarily want to be the pole sitter for this race.

For me, having sports back in my life has been a welcome distraction. The hockey playoffs have been glorious, and being able to watch my (absolutely terrible) Boston Red Sox has made afternoons of working from home somewhat bearable. My hope was I’d get a fun Sunday of racing onto my calendar as well, but alas.

The year 2020 went 2020 on the 2020 Indy 500.


Bio: Ashley Ragland doesn’t want to hear any flak about how a SoCal native can love the Red Sox and Patriots as much as she does. For more thoughts and opinions on life, sports, and everything in between, you can find her on Twitter (@ashleyragland14) and Instagram (@ashleykate314).

Photo Courtesy: Associated Press

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