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Sato Unveiling Ticket for 102nd Indy 500 'An Absolute Honor'

Takuma Sato continued an Indianapolis 500 tradition that began 70 years ago when his face was unveiled on the ticket for the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil today at the Indiana Statehouse.

102nd Indianapolis 500 was joined in the ceremony by Gov. Eric Holcomb; Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Company which operates INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway; and Doug Boles, IMS president.

Boles pointed out that the first time that the winning Indianapolis 500 driver’s photo appeared on the following year’s race ticket was in 1948. Mauri Rose picked up the second of his three Indy 500 victories in 1947 and his face adorned the ticket the next year. That tradition has remained nearly every year since with a few exceptions.

Sato, who won “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” in 2017 following an exciting battle to the finish with three-time winner Helio Castroneves, got his first look at the oversized display ticket when he and Gov. Holcomb unveiled it.

“This is actually the first time I am really seeing it,” said Sato, who won the race for Andretti Autosport but is driving this season for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. “This is genuinely surprising, and a good surprise. I’m really, really happy. To have the ticket and my face on it is an absolute honor.”

Sato became the first Japanese driver to win the Indy 500, which raised his legendary status in his home country. He accompanied the iconic Borg-Warner Trophy on a tour of Japan over the winter that drew sensational crowds at each stop. It was another reminder for Sato of the global prestige that the Indianapolis 500 carries.

“History shows that this is the biggest sporting event in this world, so everybody’s really excited,” Sato said. “Having a ticket like this is absolutely amazing, so thank you very much. … To become the Indy 500 winner is the biggest dream of my whole entire race career.”

Boles told the Indianapolis Star at the event that ticket sales for this year’s race are ahead of last year’s sensational pace.

"Where we are right now, it’s really good," Boles said. "And it’s not just a small growth. It’s looking very good for 2018."

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