Race Report: MAV TV 500

FONTANA, Calif. Aug. 30, 2014—Takuma Sato and the ABC Supply team closed out the Verizon IndyCar Series season on a positive note with their sixth place finish in the MAV TV 500 at Auto Club Speedway. For the second race in a row, both driver and team posted a career best finish. Qualifying fourth  yesterday was also Sato’s (and the race team’s) best ever start there.

"It was a long, fast race!” Sato said afterwards. “I couldn't believe only one yellow for 500 miles--it felt long. The ABC car was fast, we just needed a little more work in traffic. The car would lose a lot of grip and I struggled. When I had clean air it was pretty fast and I could catch people and then just chip away at them. It was a good race for us. The mechanics did a good job--no mistakes on the pit stops so it was a strong performance for the ABC Supply team. Having qualified fourth, I would have loved to finish higher but nevertheless we fought strong in these last races.” With double points being awarded for the 500-miler, Sato gained two spots in the year-end standings and placed 18th. He scored three of his five top-10 finishes in the final five races of the 18-race season.

Will Power, who finished ninth in the race, won his first IndyCar title after coming very close on three previous occasions.

“We learned a lot this season--we've gone through many ups and downs,” Sato said. “I'd like to thank A.J. and Larry for making it happen. I think the whole team did a superb job this year! Thanks also to ABC Supply for their support and to Alfe Heat Treating for theirs as well. I was pleased to see my friend Will Power win the championship--it was well deserved!" 

Qualifying Report: MAV TV 500

FONTANA, Calif. Aug. 29, 2014—The number four seems to be a lucky number for Takuma Sato!  And it doesn’t matter if it’s a high speed road course or a superspeedway.

After finishing fourth in the Go Pro Grand Prix at Sonoma last week, Sato qualified the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda fourth on the two-mile Auto Club Speedway oval today. It was both his and the team’s best ever qualifying effort here. The ABC Supply team’s best start was 7th (with A.J. Foyt IV in 2004), while Sato’s previous best start was 21st (in two attempts).

“Very happy but it was a quite challenging run to be honest,” said Sato. “We saw a lot of faster cars from this morning struggling due to the track conditions. We had a little gusty wind typical for here plus the very high temperatures so tire grip management was key also.

“We weren’t happy with this morning’s set-up so my engineers and all the guys put everything together and did a fantastic job, so I felt comfortable and confident through the out lap and to the first lap,” Sato continued. “The first lap was absolutely on the edge but on the second lap I had a little bit of a wiggle so there was a drop-off in the grip but I kept the good speed. Fourth and the second row was more than we expected so congratulations to all the ABC Supply guys. Hopefully we have a strong session tonight in preparation for tomorrow.”

Sato’s first lap of 217.904mph was quick enough for the pole at the time he went out (21st) but the second lap fell off slightly to 216.745mph, giving him an average speed of 217.323mph.

Helio Castroneves, the final driver to qualify, won the Verizon P-1 pole award with an average speed of 218.540mph. His teammate Juan Pablo Montoya will start second ahead of Josef Newgarden, Sato and Scott Dixon.

There is a final practice tonight for the engineers and drivers to fine tune the cars in their race trim in preparation for tomorrow night’s MAV TV 500. The race will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network starting at 9 p.m. ET.

NOTES & QUOTES: MAVTV 500

Takuma Sato is in his fifth year of driving in the Verizon IndyCar Series and his second year driving for AJ Foyt Racing. Last week he posted his best finish of the season by placing fourth in the Go Pro Grand Prix at Sonoma Raceway. He is making his third start at Auto Club Speedway.

Takuma Sato On:

Auto Club Speedway: “Auto Club Speedway is superfast and very challenging. I know this event would be quite spectacular one for the fans for a number of reasons. The pure speed, great racing side by side as we run both low and high on the banking means multiple lines are available for overtaking, it’s 500 miles and it's a night race! I always enjoyed racing here and I believe we will have a good one this year too.”

Testing at Fontana: “It was a good test for us. Quite helpful to have an open test a couple days before the actual race. We went through a good test program and the car made good progress. I believe we now have a good base-line set up for the weekend and we will try to make the car fast by massaging more details for tomorrow’s practice and qualifying.”

Key to the set-up: “As it’s a superspeedway, the aero and platform control is extremely powerful but so important not to sacrifice any mechanical grip here because this track is also well known to be quite bumpy.”

Awarding double points for 500-mile events: “Well, that’s quite challenging and tricky for the championship but for us it’s very welcome to raise our points. We have been in a quite difficult season and we lost so many points, so here we need to make a most of it and try to get maximum points.”

Early finish to the season: “Hard to believe this is the last race of the season. Feels like still we have a couple of races in the pocket but I am so looking forward this race and hopefully this become another successful weekend.”

ABC Supply national account Sutherlands Exteriors., headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., will be featured on the engine cover of the No. 14 ABC Supply car. Guests will receive the VIP treatment this weekend and will meet A.J. Foyt.

ABC Supply roofing customer Clark Roofing, based in Redlands, Calif., will be featured atop the sidepods of the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda. Guests will receive selected merchandise, race tickets, hospitality and garage passes, plus a Meet and Greet with A.J. Foyt.