Iowa Corn Indy 250 (2013)

Race Report: Iowa Corn Indy 250

DES MOINES June 23, 2013—Takuma Sato and the ABC Supply team had the ingredients for another strong finish as the team was quite competitive at Iowa Speedway this weekend.

However, it was not to be.

Sato qualified seventh for the Iowa Corn Indy 250 – marking the ABC Supply team’s best ever start at that track. However, he lined up 17th because he incurred a 10-spot grid penalty due to an unauthorized engine change before qualifying. He was running 16th when the first caution came out for debris on the track. Pitting on lap 40, the ABC Supply crew serviced him in 7.4 seconds. The crew’s quick work gained him three spots on the track – he was 13th when the race restarted.  He made some great moves to gain two more positions and was 11th by the time he came around again.

However, as the race progressed, they came upon some slower cars and Sato got boxed in. He lost about four or five positions when he had to lift. Pitting under green on lap 111, the first sign of trouble occurred when he left the pit and nearly stalled because of an engine issue. As he circled the track at speed, the Honda engineers asked him to try different engine maps and fuel maps as they worked feverishly to isolate the problem.

Qualifying Report: Iowa Corn Indy 250

NEWTON, Iowa  June 22, 2013—Takuma Sato qualified seventh for the Iowa Corn Indy 250 today at Iowa Speedway but he will start 16th. He is one of six drivers who incurred a 10-spot grid penalty for an unapproved engine change. Despite the 16th place start, the 7th place qualifying run is the best yet for the ABC Supply team; its previous best qualifying effort was 13th in 2011.

Sato had to cut his morning practice short by 10 minutes when an engine issue arose, and upon further investigation, the Honda engineers ordered the engine change. Because the new engine was installed before qualifying, the penalty was applied to this race. Had the engine been changed after qualifying, the penalty would have affected the following race.

The ABC Supply team was under the gun to switch out the engines and make appropriate setup changes in just under 2.5 hours so they could make it to INDYCAR tech inspection before taking their place in the qualifying line.

The crew came through and Sato clocked a one lap qualifying speed of 182.3mph which was 10th quickest of the 24-car field. That speed wasn’t fast enough to make it to the final of three heats - only the top six were taken from the round of one-lap qualifying.

Sato lined up outside pole sitter Scott Dixon in the first 50-lap heat race. He was challenged early on by Alex Tagliani but held him off and in the final half of the race he was closing in on leader Dixon. Sato finished second which allowed him (and Dixon) to transfer to the final (and third) heat which would set the grid for the top 10. Graham Rahal won the second 50-lap heat race and Ed Carpenter finished second so they transferred to the final heat also. The finish of the rest of the cars in the first two heat races determined the bottom half of the starting grid.

NOTES & QUOTES: Iowa Corn Indy 250 at Iowa Speedway

Takuma Sato and the ABC Supply/AJ Foyt Racing team are in their first season together. Sato is making his fourth start at Iowa Speedway. Following his 7th place finish (after starting 15th) at The Milwaukee Mile last weekend, he is fourth in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings.

Takuma Sato On:

o Iowa Speedway: “It’s one of my favorite tracks. We didn’t have a good race there last year but I am looking forward to coming back. It is just 18 seconds per lap and has lots of cornering. With the current spec of less downforce, it’s getting more challenging. Hopefully we can get it right.”

o How tough physically Iowa Speedway is: “It's a very physical track, actually the most physical oval track I have known. Because you have high downforce aero, you get a lot of grip. With it being a high-banked track, there’s even more grip so the car runs very fast in the quite tight corner. It pulls over 5Gs during cornering which is very high. So it requires high stamina from the driver and is especially demanding because of the steering effort required.”

o The key setup for the race: “It’s pretty much the same as usual; the car needs good stability but we have to keep minimizing the scrub. We are using the road-course type of high downforce aero package with a traditional oval mechanical set-up, so it's kind of a combination of the two which we have to find a good balance from it.”

o Why Iowa Speedway is one of his favorite tracks: “Like any other short oval, the driver needs to drive so hard from wall to wall. I have really enjoyed this track from my first visit to it. I find the racing very exciting. It's a great, fun track.”