MAVTV 500 (2013)

Race Report: MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway

FONTANA, Calif. Oct. 19—Takuma Sato and the ABC Supply team gave it their best shot in the MAVTV 500 as the IZOD IndyCar Series closed out their season at Auto Club Speedway Saturday night.

Will Power won the race while his teammate Helio Castroneves mounted a valiant challenge to snare the title from Scott Dixon but to no avail. Dixon’s fifth place finish yielded enough points for him to secure his third IndyCar championship with Target Ganassi Racing. Castroneves was second. Third through fifth were Simon Pagenaud, Power and Marco Andretti.

After a crash in yesterday’s practice which required extensive repairs to the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda, Sato missed qualifying and started at the rear of the 25-car grid.  Sato showed no ill effects from his accident as he charged ahead at the drop of the flag this evening.

Through quick pit work and driving a clean smart race, Sato was able to move up the grid. Halfway through the 250-lap race, he was running in 14th place.  Sato was up to 13th when he lost power and was forced to drop out of the race after 144 laps.

“We had a motor problem,” said Team Owner A.J. Foyt. Several entries had engine issues which caused early exits.

ABC Supply/Foyt Racing - Practice Report

FONTANA, Calif. Oct. 18—Takuma Sato and the ABC Supply team will have their work cut out Saturday evening in the final race of the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series. Sato will start in the final slot of the 25-car grid after an accident in morning practice caused him to miss the afternoon qualifying session.

Going through Turn 3 of the two-mile Auto Club Speedway, the No. 14 car’s back end snapped around and pancaked the wall with the left side of the car. Sato emerged uninjured but the car sustained damage to its left side suspension, bodywork and wings but fortunately the tub remained intact. Sato had been running in the top 10 when the accident occurred.

The ABC Supply crew was able to repair the car in time for the 30-minute final practice session this evening.

"After a tough day, I owe a big thank you to the boys -- they did a super job after the incident this morning,” Sato said after the final warm-up. “We had a good opportunity on the track tonight and found the car was comfortable. It was very good to see the car handle consistently because that is the most important thing tonight."

Will Power won the pole position with a speed of 220.775 mph, which was nearly a mile an hour faster than that of his teammate and championship contender Helio Castroneves who will start alongside Power. A.J. Allmendinger, also driving for Penske this weekend, will start third. Sebastian Bourdais and Charlie Kimball round out the top five. Castroneves’ rival Scott Dixon will start seventh as the two drivers and teams duel it out for the championship title.

The race will be broadcast live beginning at 8 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network. The green flag will be dropped at 9:10 p.m. ET as officials delayed the start time 20 minutes to avoid the glare of the setting sun as the cars enter Turn 3.

 

NOTES & QUOTES: MAVTV 500

Takuma Sato On:

Auto Club Speedway: “I think Fontana is a great oval track. Certainly it's bumpy and challenging but it gives us multiple race lines and you can go low or high depending on your balance and condition. That is actually great and not many courses allow you to do so without losing too much speed. So you will see lots of side by side racing and leader changes in the race. I enjoyed my first visit there last year.”

Returning to high speed ovals: “Since we had a test at Fontana a couple of weeks ago, and I believe most of the teams tested there, I don't think it will take us too long to get acclimated.  Maybe we need some good time in the car to get confidence in traffic but we will have a long race, so I'm not worried about that either.”

Testing at Fontana: “The base set-up was at a much higher level already this year because the team had raced there. So we went with all the basics and tried to develop from there. Tires were performing well so we were up to the pace quite quickly. Then we went through some test items and the car became more stable so I was able to go faster. It was a very productive day.”

Key to the set-up: “Obviously reduction of drag is extremely important as this is one of the fastest tracks we race on, but equally important is to have a very stable car. Here you can run low, mid and high lanes and each lane gives us a different balance so we need to adjust for that too. Particularly from Turn 1 to Turn 2, it is very tricky to go over the seams. Between the lanes and the progressive banking from bottom to top, you can't just drive all the way on the bottom. You could stay very high all the way through, it is actually the most stable line but to get an ultimate lap time you need to approach high, get low and go high again, which makes it very tricky but fast.”

Goal for this weekend: “Having a strong finish would be great but ultimately we want to win and nothing is impossible.”

Rating your season: “It's been a great season. We had such a successful start to the beginning of the season and achieved fantastic finishes with the team. We also had some unlucky moments in midseason but it was great to go through as a group and we learned all sorts of things because of it.  We have been strong in the last few races of the season. It is definitely a happy place to build on, and we moved forward a lot.”

Possible record: Takuma Sato will be looking to regain the form he showed in the first half of the season when he claimed his first IndyCar victory at the Grand Prix of Long Beach. If he were to win at Auto Club Speedway, he would become the first driver to win both races in Southern California in the same season.

Sato’s pole winning run in Houston’s Race 1 Oct. 5th was the team’s first pole position since Billy Boat won the pole at Atlanta Motor Speedway in July, 1999.