INDIANAPOLIS -- Japan's Takuma Sato moved passed Scott Dixon with 27 laps to go, held off the driver who had dominated the race most of the afternoon and went on to win Sunday's 104th running of the Indianapolis 500.
The victory came under caution after Sato's teammate, Spencer Pigot, crashed hard with five laps to go and officials could not clean up the debris in time to restart the race.
The win was the second for Rahal Letterman Lanigan's Sato at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The first came in 2017 while driving for Andretti Autosport.
"This is unbelievable," said Sato, drenched in celebratory milk. "I cannot find the words."
Sato's bosses, however, could find the words.
"Hell of a job," team co-owner and former late-night entertainer David Letterman said as he bear-hugged Sato in Victory Circle. "Hell of a job."
"Takuma ran hard all day long," team owner Bobby Rahal, the 1996 winner of the 500 as a driver, said. "In the end, I was worried once we ran up against that traffic that they'd kind of foul things up. Takuma got through them pretty good, Dixon and Graham (Rahal) got through pretty good.
"And, of course, the accident. Who knows what would have happened those last five laps?" Rahal added. "For Takuma, a two-time winner of the Indy 500, that's pretty cool."
To get the win, Sato had to make a couple of questionable blocks on Dixon over the final laps but race officials took no action.
Chip Ganassi Racing's Dixon, a five-time Indy car series champion and the winner of the 500 in 2008, had to settle for second after leading the most laps and looking unbeatable until the final fuel stint.
Dixon, who had won the first three races of the 2020 season, had led 111 of the race's 200 laps. His runner-up finish was his third in a 500. All of those came under caution as well.
"Definitely a hard one to swallow," Dixon said. "We had such a great day. With fuel mileage I don't see how they would make it."
Dixon said he was surprised that officials did not red flag the race after the final wreck so the race could have been finished under green.
"To let it run out like that," he said. "I thought they were going to a red flag, which would have been interesting four or five laps, but congrats to Sato. He drove his pants off today.
"It's nice to gather some points but it's hard when it slips away like that."
Finishing third was Sato's third teammate, Graham Rahal.
Fourth was Santino Ferrucci of Dale Coyne Racing while Team Penske's Josef Newgarden was fifth.
Marco Andretti had been center stage in the days leading up to "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" at the 2.5-mile iconic IMS. The grandson of superstar Mario Andretti and the son of star driver and team owner Michael Andretti, Marco Andretti won the pole in dramatic fashion a week ago. But just seconds into the race, he was passed by Dixon.
He hung around in the top 10 but could never mount a serious challenge in his hope to become the first Andretti to win a 500 since his grandfather did in 1969. He finished 13th.
There was more bad news for his team as Alexander Rossi, who had traded the lead with Dixon several times in the middle laps, wrecked hard on Lap 144.
Last year's winner, Simon Pagenaud of Team Penske, saw his hopes for a repeat end when he needed to pit for a new nosepiece after an incident with Ryan Hunter-Reay on Lap 135.
The early laps featured some interesting drama.
Hometown favorite Ed Carpenter's hopes to win his first 500 ended early when he was forced to the wall on Lap 3. Damage was moderate to the right side of his car but fixing the problem put Carpenter 12 laps off the pace.
Three laps later, the brake rotor on the right front wheel of James Davison's Honda started glowing bright red. The heat blew the brake and wheel assembly to pieces and ignited the rubber tire. The fire threatened to engulf the entire car but safety crews arrived to get Davison out of the car and put the fire out.
The scariest wreck occurred on a restart on Lap 93 when Conor Daly spun in Turn 1. Behind him rookie Oliver Askew slammed hard into the SAFER barrier on the inside wall as he attempted to avoid the wreck. After finally emerging from his cockpit, Askew, driving for Arrow McLaren, sat on the sidepod of his car shaken but not seriously injured.
"I was a little shaken up after that hit," he said. "Tried to avoid the accident."
"Looked like I hit the curb so it's on me," Daly said.