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Decisions, Decisions: Sato Searching for Perfect Home for New 'Baby Borg' Trophy

Takuma Sato now has what every Indianapolis 500 driver desires: His own BorgWarner Drivers Championship Trophy, a memento commonly referred to as a “Baby Borg.”

Now Sato, the first Japanese driver to win the ‘500,’ must decide where the smaller version of the iconic Borg-Warner Trophy resides.

“I haven’t decided if it’s going to Indy or Japan,” Sato said Wednesday night. “Anywhere will do.”

Sato was presented with the BorgWarner Championship Drivers Trophy by BorgWarner Inc. President and CEO James Verrier at the annual Automotive News World Congress Dinner, which takes place in conjunction with the North American International Auto Show.

The Baby Borg stands 14 inches high, weighs 5 pounds and rests on a beveled black marble base bearing the driver’s name, year of victory and a three-dimensional sterling silver image like the one on the full-sized Borg-Warner Trophy. The driver’s trophy was established in 1988, with Rick Mears receiving the first.

It stands to reason Japan is the likely ultimate destination for Sato’s Baby Borg since the winner of the 2017 Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil considers seeing the big trophy showcased last month in Japan his favorite moment since winning in May.

“In a very good way there have been moments, like seeing (my likeness) on the (actual) trophy,” Sato said. “But seeing this trophy in Japan – the first time it was outside the United States – that was a very special moment. Very special.”

Team owners also are awarded Baby Borgs, which meant Michael Andretti also was on hand Wednesday night to receive for his fifth such trophy and third in the past four years.

“I keep saying this is the one thing you want to come to Detroit for in the winter,” Andretti said.

For Andretti, the Baby Borg is further validation that Andretti Autosport is doing things the right way at Indy. Dan Wheldon gave Andretti’s team its first Indy victory in 2005, and that win was followed by Dario Franchitti’s in 2007, Ryan Hunter-Reay’s in 2014 and Alexander Rossi’s in 2016. Only Roger Penske’s team (16) has won the “500” more often.

“I think that’s great, and I think that says something about our team,” said Andretti, who never won the “500” in 16 attempts as a driver. “You can’t say it’s because we had ‘this driver’ or ‘that driver.’ That’s not why we won all of these races. We’ve proving ourselves by winning with different guys.”

The next question will be whether Andretti’s team can continue its recent domination of the “500” once the Verizon IndyCar Series begins using universal aero kits for the upcoming season. INDYCAR formally unveiled the new chassis equipment configuration Tuesday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

“At this point, we don’t know what will happen,” Andretti said of the competitive balance of the series. “It should be OK for us; we’ve been working hard. Hopefully we’re doing a better job than our competition.”

Interestingly, that competition includes Sato, who is driving this season for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

The 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil is scheduled for Sunday, May 27 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series starts March 11 at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. Both races will be broadcast live on ABC Sports and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

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Baby Borg with Michael Andretti and Takuma Sato
 
Decisions, Decisions: Sato Searching for Perfect Home for New 'Baby Borg' Trophy
Takuma Sato now has what every Indianapolis 500 driver desires: His own BorgWarner Drivers Championship Trophy, a memento commonly referred to as a “Baby Borg.” Now Sato, the first Japanese driver to win the ‘500,’ must decide where the smaller version of the iconic Borg-Warner Trophy resides.
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