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500 Winners Collect ‘Baby Borgs’

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, January 20 2018

Driver Takuma Sato and team owner Michael Andretti toast their victory in the 2017 Indy 500. This week, they collected the trophies which go to the victors.

RacinToday.com

Reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Takuma Sato has taken possession of a career-defining piece of Verizon IndyCar Series hardware.

Sato and team-owner Michael Andretti each received BorgWarner Championship trophies, also known as the “Baby Borg,” to commemorate their thrilling victory in the 101st edition of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil last May.

BorgWarner Inc. President/CEO James Verrier presented the BorgWarner Championship Driver’s Trophy to Sato and the BorgWarner Championship Team Owner’s trophy to Andretti Autosport owner Andretti during the annual Automotive News World Congress Dinner in Detroit, which took place earlier this week in conjunction with the North American International Auto Show.

“I haven’t decided if it’s going to Indy or Japan,” said Sato, referencing the ultimate destination for the trophy. “Anywhere will do. (Being honored) just never stops, and we’re only four months away from the next Indy 500. It’s crazy.”

The BorgWarner Championship trophies are unique replicas of the iconic hardware awarded to the winner of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Baby Borg” trophies are 14-inches high and weigh five pounds. The driver’s trophy features a handcrafted, three-dimensional sterling silver image of the winner, a duplicate of the image affixed to the full BorgWarner Trophy, while the owner’s trophy features a band of art deco race cars accented in gold to symbolize the importance of teamwork.

A 40-year-old native of Tokyo, Sato became the first Japanese driver to win the Indianapolis 500. Starting fourth in an Andretti Autosport Honda,  Sato held off three-time 500 winner Helio Castroneves of Brazil and Team Penske by just 0.2011-seconds at the finish of the 200-lapper on May 28.

Andretti, a former Indy car star who never won the 500 as a driver, earned his fifth victory as a team-owner _ each with a different driver. Andretti also was the winning owner in 2005 with the late Dan Wheldon, 2007 with Dario Franchitti, 2014 with Ryan Hunter-Reay and 2016 with Alexander Rossi.

Sato since has joined Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, where he will team with Graham Rahal in Honda-powered cars beginning this season.

The son of 1969 Indy 500 champion Mario Andretti, “Mikey” is tied with Chip Ganassi for second on the all-time Indianapolis 500 victory list among team owners. Roger Penske leads all owners with 16 victories in the Memorial Day weekend classic that annually caps the Month of May.

Sato’s week as roving open-wheel ambassador continued in Indianapolis, where he helped start a major promotional campaign for the 102nd edition of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” by unveiling a large banner over Gate 2 of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The banner, which measures 91.5-feet wide and 19.5-feet high, features the tagline “THIS IS MAY.” on an image of Sato celebrating his victory in the 101st edition of the Indy 500. “THIS IS MAY.” will be the centerpiece of the Indianapolis 500 promotional campaign this spring, including television and print advertising, billboards, social media content and digital and print collateral.

“It was a very exciting moment for me when I became the Indy 500 champion,” Sato said. “So many great things have happened since I won…(and) it is an unbelievable feeling to return as the defending champion. The whole experience has been beyond my imagination.”

IMS President J. Douglas Boles and Allison Melangton, Hulman Motorsports senior vice-president of events, joined Sato at the ceremony.

“Takuma’s victory last year was the crowning achievement of a Month of May filled with excitement,” Boles said. “That’s the concept behind this new promotional campaign: There’s nothing on Earth quite like the entire Month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, on and off the track.”

The 102nd Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 27. The fifth annual INDYCAR Grand Prix, which kicks off Month of May activity at the track, is scheduled for Saturday, May 12. For more information or tickets for both events, visit IMS.com.

The 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season starts March 11 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. Both races will be broadcast live on ABC Sports and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, January 20 2018
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