Takuma Sato has explained that he never lost hope that he could win the Indianapolis 500 despite falling back in the field during his triumphant day at the Brickyard.
Five years after crashing on the final lap while trying to wrestle the Indianapolis victory from Dario Franchitti, Sato was in command when it counted to win the richest race in American motorsport.
This time, he duelled with three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves down the stretch, the two veteran drivers exchanging the lead as the laps wound down.
Sato made the final decisive move into Turn 1 on Lap 196 of 200, cleanly emerging ahead of the Brazilian and holding him off over the last five laps to win by 0.2011s.
Long a favoured son of Honda, Sato repaid the Japanese manufacturer's loyalty by securing the biggest win of his racing career.
“At one stage I lost momentum, fell down to about 10th place,” Sato told reporters after the race.
“I just got down to my job, believed in the car, in the speed of the pit stops.
“When the time comes, I have to give 100 percent commitment – I knew I could do it.
“But I was just waiting for the moment.
“Helio is just such a gentleman, such a fair player.
“I believed in him and when we go side-by-side into Turn 1, it was job done.
“The car worked beautifully and I just cannot thank enough everyone who supported me.”
Sato's reputation in IndyCar was of a driver who was often fast, but also somewhat erratic and crash-prone.
But he showed signs of his prowess at Indianapolis back in 2012 when he very nearly defeated three-time ‘500' champion Franchitti in a late shootout.
That opportunity ended with Sato's Rahal Letterman Racing Honda in the Turn 1 wall, with the Japanese driver explaining that his philosophy of “No attack, no chance!” led him to make a risky manoeuvre that didn't pan out.
There were no such mistakes in 2017 as Sato preserved glory for Honda after the engine manufacturer saw three of its engines fail down the stretch, including those of Sato's Andretti Autosport team-mates Ryan Hunter-Reay and Fernando Alonso.
“He drove a superb race – I watched him very closely,” said Andretti Autosport owner Michael Andretti
“There were many times where he was in a difficult situation, and he would get out of the situation.
“He showed a lot of patience, but then when he had to go, he went.
“He didn't let us down; he drove very, very well.
“The difficult part of having multiple cars is not everybody is going to be happy and we had some other cars that were very, very strong today that ran into bad luck.
“I feel really bad for them but that's why we have six bullets in the gun.
“Taku came came through for us and did an awesome job.
“I'm so happy for him and really happy for Honda.
“I'm really happy that we were able to give them a win with our Japanese driver here.”
Sato scored the only podium finish of his Formula 1 career in the 2004 United States Grand Prix on the Indianapolis road course, and IMS is now the site of the biggest triumph of his career.
“It's a fantastic place for me and it must be something here that I do love.
“It's just fantastic feeling.
“I love this place, not just because the winning, but because the fans so appreciate it.
“I respect them – they give me a great speed and great confidence.
“Going to Turn 1, it's always great to see; so colourful, so full of people.
“This is a mega place and it's just fantastic feeling.”