Sunday afternoon, the 104th running of the Indy 500 took place at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This was the first time that no fans attended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the drivers still put on a show for viewers at home. Ultimately, Takuma Sato secured victory in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
Heading into the final 20 laps, there was a massive battle brewing between Sato and five-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon. The ultimate winner had the lead, but Dixon had the opportunity to take control after leading for more than 100 laps on Sunday. Right as he went to make a move, however, an incident occurred. Spencer Pigot slammed violently into the wall. This brought out the caution with fewer than five laps remaining. Instead of restarting, Sato drove to the checkered flag under caution, securing his second victory in the Indy 500.
Heading toward Sunday's race, several drivers drew attention as the potential best option to achieve victory. Marco Andretti, the grandson of the legendary Mario Andretti, had the pole position and faced solid odds overall. Similarly, Alexander Rossi became a favorite after several comments about the pure speed of his car. However, Dixon was the most popular pick due to his history of success, as well as his early speed.
The race started with an exciting move by Dixon as he overtook Andretti and raced to the front of the pack. However, an incident further back drew far more attention. Zach Veach sent Ed Carpenter and the Space Force car into the wall, sending him to the pits on only the fourth lap. Moments later, 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, the got back into action and continued the exciting race. However, the race only became wilder from that point on.
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.
Rossi, on the other hand, experienced a major issue midway through the race. His pit crew had a timing issue due to a dropped lug nut and gave him the "all-clear" to pull out into traffic at the wrong moment. Rossi clipped another car and drew a penalty. He had to move to the back of the field.
Despite the penalty, Rossi did move through the pack using the power of his car. He ultimately reached 18th overall and appeared to be en route to a major comeback. The situation changed, however, as Rossi violently slammed into the wall coming out of a turn. He ripped the wheels off of his car and caused a long delay. The fan-favorite to win the race instead left the track early.
Several drivers competed for the lead throughout Sunday's race. Defending champion Simon Pagenaud reached the top-3 with 77 laps remaining in the race but then headed to pit road. Similarly, Sato started his day on the front row and remained near the top of the pack for much of the day. He even led for several laps near the end of the race. Following the final pit stop, he took the lead once again and kicked off the battle with Dixon. He never relinquished and instead headed to victory lane.