Sato soaking up post-Indy 500 accolades

Takuma Sato (Reuters)
Takuma Sato (Reuters)

Los Angeles - Takuma Sato says a little sleep deprivation is a small price to pay for the thrill of becoming Japan's first winner of the Indianapolis 500.

The one-time Formula One misfit etched his name in history on Sunday, when he passed Helio Castroneves with five laps to go the held off the three-time winner to capture America's fabled race.

"It's been crazy," he said of his life since then as he visited the Dallas Cowboys at the NFL team's practice facility on Wednesday.

His appearance in Texas followed a whirlwind trip to New York, where he took in the Empire State Building, Wall Street and Times Square on Tuesday.

"My life has changed the last 72 hours," Sato said. "I've gotten only three hours of sleep every single night.

"It's been an absolute privilege to go through all the media tour and meet people. It's just a great experience."

Sato met with Cowboys players and coaches on Wednesday, as well as chatting with reporters.

"This is my first time to visit an NFL team in practice, so it's just exciting and incomparable," he said. "Anyone here is a superstar, so I'm very, very thrilled and very excited."

Sato reiterated his respect for Brazil's Castroneves.

"Having a battle back and forth with him the last six laps was a great moment," he said. "I hope we put a great show on for the fans."

He also reflected on the sacking of Denver Post columnist Terry Frei - who tweeted he was "uncomfortable" with a Japanese driver's victory in the race held on America's Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Frei later apologised, but the Post fired him on Monday.

"It was just an unfortunate (situation)," Sato said. "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."

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