Race Report: Shell Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston – Race 2

HOUSTON Oct. 6, 2013—Takuma Sato was headed for his first top-10 finish since mid-June when disaster struck on the final lap of Race 2 of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston at Reliant Park today.

Sato was running seventh in the ABC Supply Honda after working his way from last position on the grid (due to stalling the car on the initial standing start). On the last lap of the 90-lap race, he got into the marbles and brushed the wall. Busy trying to gather it up, several cars passed him. Then as he entered a long, blind right hander, the car became very loose—which may be attributed to a bent toe link on the left rear. Sato was nearly sideways as Franchitti came up to pass him. Franchitti’s car climbed over Sato’s and launched into the catch fence before landing back on the track. Sato was then tagged by E.J. Viso but fortunately both of them escaped injury.

Franchitti was transported to a local hospital where he underwent successful surgery to repair a fractured right ankle. He also sustained a concussion and a spinal fracture which won’t require surgery according to reports.

The debris from the accident flew beyond the protective catch fencing injured 13 spectators, two of whom were hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries. The others were treated at the track’s medical center and released.

Sato (unaware of spectator injuries at the time) said, “Tough weekend. I stalled at the start and had to start in the very back but we made it into the top 10. My crew gave me good stops and by the end of the race we were pretty strong so the team did a good job on that. On the last lap I caught the marbles and brushed the wall and lost momentum. A couple cars passed me as I was offline and in turn 5 the long right hander I got very loose and Dario and I came together. It's really a shame. Hopefully Dario is okay."

Will Power won the race while his teammate Helio Castroneves suffered mechanical troubles which caused him to lose the championship lead to Scott Dixon who finished second in the race. Third through fifth were James Hinchcliffe, Justin Wilson and Sebastien Bourdais.

Qualifying was cancelled this morning due to heavy rain which led to standing water in some areas of the track. The grid was set according to the Entrants’ points.

The IndyCar Series heads to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. for their season finale the night of Oct. 19th. It will be televised live on the NBC Sports Network.