Honda validates engine trouble by winning Indianapolis 500

Alonso said Sato has been a big help to him during his preparation for the Indianapolis 500.

"Unbelievable feeling!" a beaming Sato declared as he accepted a bear-hug of congratulations from Andretti Autosport team boss Michael Andretti.

Fernando Alonso was the most heralded rookie coming into the race.

The driver of the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda edged three-time Indy 500 victor Helio Castroneves to the finish line by 0.2011 of a second to become the first Japanese victor of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing". "I came here basically to prove myself, to challenge myself", said Alonso. "But he's just such a gentleman, such a fair player". Now on the same strategy as Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan and Oriol Servia - all of whom ran ahead - Alonso had ground to make up heading towards the final round of pit stops. An Andretti driver has now won the 500 three times in the last four years, and five times overall dating to 2005 with the late Dan Wheldon.

While it didn't end the way Alonso hoped, seeing his number atop the famous scoring pylon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was a thrill he won't forget.

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But then the ominous signs for the Honda engine powering him started appearing. Alonso put on a thrilling show and even led 27 laps - third most in the race - but he was sent to the paddock when his engine blew with 20 laps remaining. He considers Alonso a legitimate contender because he's racing with Andretti Autosport - victor of this race previous year with rookie Alexander Rossi - and because "the calibre of driver he is, it seems like he's definitely soaking it in". The crowd gave him a standing ovation as he climbed from his vehicle. "I didn't miss Monaco in terms of result, you know".

Bourdais, 38, walked into the track's media center on crutches and then said he plans to recover quickly enough to race September 17 in the IndyCar season finale at Sonoma Raceway. "I'm not American but I really felt proud to race here".

"You're obviously concerned but you're dealing with the odds", Andretti said. It's going to be huge. "I was thinking at that moment that if someone from the team was taking a picture of the tower, I want that picture at home".

Added Sato about the popularity of his victory in Japan: "This is going to be mega big". "We had a great shot". Sato held off aggressive charges from Castroneves, the driver of the No. 3 Shell Fuel Rewards Team Penske Chevrolet, in the sixth-closest finish in Indy 500 history. "It's attractive. I dreamed of something like this since I was 12".

When the moment came, Takuma Sato seized it, and was rewarded with one of auto racing's grandest prizes.

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While any true race fan had to respect Sato's courage and determination to push for the win, many (including the ABC broadcasters) questioned whether the IndyCar veteran made his move too soon and should have waited for the exit of Turn 2 or even the final corner.

"The race was so up and done for us", Jones said.

It was only the second IndyCar victory for Sato, who won driving for A.J. Foyt at Long Beach in 2013.

In the closing dozen laps, ex-Formula 1 driver Max Chilton led the way and was closely followed by Castroneves.

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