What could have been is what still could be for Hildebrand and Sato

Both drivers know what it is like to have the checkered flag in sight at Indy, only to watch another driver take the glory.

INDIANAPOLIS - Unlike most races where the old adage 'nobody remembers who finished second' is used on a regular basis, the expression doesn't hold quite true when you're talking about the Indianapolis 500. 

I don't really think it was a flawed judgement to be making - I had Dobermans with hand grenades behind me.

J.R. Hildebrand

In 2011 and 2012, I'm sure most racing enthusiasts remember the drivers who were within arm's reach of making a childhood dream reality, only to have it taken away in the 11th hour.

2011 - J.R. Hildebrand

Dan Wheldon emerged victorious in the 2011 race when then-rookie J.R. Hildebrand slammed the wall out of turn four as he tried to pass a lapped car.

Looking back on that fateful day, "You know, being in racing, your opportunities to win big races are limited, just by circumstances and stuff that is out of your control," he explained to Motorsport.com. "You definitely want to be able to close the deal when you have those kinds of opportunities. For me, it was my rookie year and it was kind of weird circumstances at the end of the race."

"Looking back on (it), given the same scenario again. Obviously, now, I would do something different because I've gone through that but I don't really think it was a flawed judgement to be making - I had Dobermans with hand grenades behind me and chasing me down."

"Now though, I'm much more experienced and I think I was able to learn a lot from that situation so I can go into this race in 2015 a better driver because of it."

2012 - Takuma Sato

The following year, an unexpected opponent was chomping at the bit to steal victory out from underneath Dario Franchitti, on the final lap. Takuma Sato, the only representative of Japan in IndyCar right now was in a strong position to win the 500. After cutting his way through four of five cars in a six lap sprint to the finish, he made his move on the leader in the first corner of the 200th lap, but as fate would have it, he did not come out the other end of the turn.

"You can dream about it 100 times but to get there was confidence that you can do the job," he told Motorsport.com "It was a definitely a highlight of my career up until now but I wish we could have come out in the right direction, out of turn one. It didn't happen, but there was some experience and for sure, we were all aiming for that, to win the 500.

"I think the GP was definitely our best race all season and that has lifted the whole team's motivation. For sure, that was helpful going into the month of May and with three cars, I'm confident we can be in the game again."

Another chance

Both drivers will be making their sixth Indy 500 start this weekend and will get another opportunity to maybe, just maybe, have the 'racing gods' smile upon them in this 'Cathedral of Speed.' 

Sato will start the race from 27th on the grid with A.J. Foyt Racing, Hildebrand tenth with CFHR.


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Event Indy 500
Track Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Drivers Takuma Sato , J.R. Hildebrand
Article type Interview
Tags a.j. foyt racing, cfhr