Veteran driver Takuma Sato secured victory during the 104th Indy 500 on Sunday, narrowly defeating favorite Scott Dixon. They did not race across the finish line, however, due to a late incident. Spencer Pigot's Honda violently slammed into the pit road wall with fewer than five laps remaining and brought out the yellow caution flag.
The incident occurred when Pigot's car got loose coming out of a corner. He brushed a wall and caused some damage. The car then ricocheted across the track and slammed into the wall at the start of pit road. As the announcers explained, he effectively went from 100 mph to a complete stop when he hit the impact attenuator, which is designed to protect drivers in violent collisions.
Instead of restarting the race with a three-lap finale, the officials ended the Indy 500 under caution. Sato drove to the checkered flag at a very reduced speed while Dixon closely followed. There was no photo finish, and Sato's team knew that he had achieved victory before the checkered flag waved.
"Why the hell was the red flag not thrown IMMEDIATELY when that accident happened? [The] major risk for any driver involved just from cars running at caution pace. Shut it down ASAP," one person commented after watching the end of the Indy 500. Several others agreed and said that the drivers should have come to a complete stop instead of simply slowing down for the final laps. Others just expressed relief after hearing that Pigot appeared to be ok after the crash.
While the Indy 500 did not allow fans to attend, it did draw attention to the number of wild incidents. The race featured several crashes that brought out caution flags. Multiple drivers also had to quickly climb out of their cars due to the fires raging.
One example occurred when James Davison's front right tire caught on fire. He tried to drive to the pits with it engulfed in flames, but had to ultimately pull over while the safety crews raced to put out the blaze. The caution came out early on lap seven and brought the race to a halt. The safety crews removed Davison's car from the track and cleaned up the debris. After a short delay, they got back into action and continued the exciting race.
Similarly, Marcus Ericsson also saw his day come to an early end after his car caught on fire. He seemingly lost control coming out of Turn 1 and slammed violently into the wall. This collision destroyed the tires on the right side of the car. Ericsson skidded to a halt while flames began licking at his seat. He was able to extricate himself — with some help from emergency personnel — and then the safety crews extinguished the fire.