Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato to drive for Rahal in 2018

Takuma Sato, of Japan, celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Sunday, May 28, 2017, in Indianapolis. (Darron Cummings/AP)

Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato will return to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing next season. Sato spent just one season with Andretti Autosport and became the first Japanese winner of the 500.

Sato drove for Rahal in 2012 and nearly beat Dario Franchitti in attempting to win the Indy 500 that year. Sato crashed on the final lap trying to pass Franchitti for the lead.

The Tokyo native has made 135 starts in the IndyCar Series since his rookie season in 2010. He has two victories, the Indy 500 and at Long Beach in 2013, and six podium finishes. Sato competed in 90 Formula One races between 2002 and 2008 and had a career-best finish of third in the 2003 United States Grand Prix.

Sato has a strong alliance with Honda and needed a contingency plan in case Andretti moved to Chevrolet for 2018. By the time Andretti decided to stay with Honda, Sato had already agreed to a deal with Rahal.

"I’m excited about having Taku back with us," Bobby Rahal said. "I have such admiration for his spirit and how he approaches everything and was so happy for him when he won the Indy 500 this year. The chance to bring him back to the team was too good to pass up."

Zach Veach will replace Sato at Andretti.