That’s the one significant difference Takuma Sato has noticed since winning the Indianapolis 500. It’s a welcomed side effect, of course.
Sato had the most defining race of his career on Sunday, passing three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves with five laps to go and holding on for the checkered flag.
Sato, 40, became the first Japanese driver to win the prestigious open-wheel race and is now soaking it in with media appearances across the country.
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Sato, who is 5-foot-5, 130 pounds, stopped by the Dallas Cowboys’ practice facility Wednesday, meeting with players and coaches after organized team activities. Sato also spoke to reporters about his historic win.
On his life since winning the Indy 500: “It’s been crazy. My life has changed the last 72 hours. I’ve gotten only three hours of sleep every single night. It’s been an absolute privilege to go through all the media tours and meet people. It’s just a great experience.”
On his late pass of Castroneves: “It’s just a privilege to race a person like him. I love racing with Helio. He’s the guy to beat at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He’s of course one of the most competitive guys in the field, but he’s such a fair player. He always respects the line … having a battle back and forth with him the last six laps was a great moment. I hope we put a great show on for the fans.”
On holding off Castroneves on the final laps: “Most people say you don’t want to lead until the last lap, which is true. But it wasn’t that case. I really wanted to [make my move with five laps to go] because if I waited till the last lap and failed, you’re game is over. I decided five laps to make an attempt on him.”
On IndyCar coming to Texas Motor Speedway in two weeks: “With the new track, it’s going to be a challenge but hopefully we’ll have a great car. I’m looking forward to coming back.”
On the Cowboys: “This is my first time to visit an NFL team in practice, so it’s just exciting and incomparable. … Anyone here is a superstar, so I’m very, very thrilled and very excited.”
On the Denver Post firing columnist Terry Frei over an insensitive tweet about Sato: “It was just an unfortunate [situation]. The one journalist lost their job, but I do respect the Denver Post’s decision. I certainly really appreciate the public response that everybody thought it was inappropriate. There’s no hard feeling on that, but it was quite a positive sign.”