Iowa Corn Indy 300 (2014)

Race Report: Iowa Corn Indy 300

NEWTON, Iowa July 12, 2014—Wrong place, wrong time. That about sums up Takuma Sato’s experience in Saturday night’s Iowa Corn Indy 300 at Iowa Speedway.

“Watch out, watch out!” was all Takuma Sato’s spotter Larry Arnold had time to say when Mikhail Aleshin spun coming off turn 4 on a lap 48 restart. Sato, who was outside of Charlie Kimball, had nowhere to go as Aleshin spun into his path taking them both into the outside wall. Both drivers were lucky to escape injury, although their cars sustained heavy damage.

“At the restart, I was side by side with Kimball and then all I could see suddenly was white smoke,” said Sato. “I tried to avoid it but I was already going high, so I had nowhere to go, and next thing I knew I hit the car that spun in front of us.”

It was another disappointing end for the ABC Supply team that has endured its fifth straight early exit, most of which were out of their control. Their last top-10 finish was ninth in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis two months ago.

Qualifying Report: Iowa Corn Indy 300

NEWTON, Iowa July 11, 2014—Takuma Sato will start 16th in the Iowa Corn Indy 300, a surprising turn of events after his fourth place run in the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda in the afternoon practice.

"It was a difficult qualifying session--couldn't get good grip so the car was sliding,” Sato said. “It was both pushing and loose at both ends (of the track). It was a tough one."

Sato’s two lap combined average speed of 183.089 mph was slower than his practice speed of 183.860 mph. Inclement weather shifted the schedule; the practice (originally scheduled for the morning) took place in the late afternoon and qualifying was postponed from 2 pm until 6 pm. The final practice session was cancelled.

Scott Dixon won his first Verizon P1 pole award of 2014 with his average speed of 186.256 mph, just slightly faster than his teammate Tony Kanaan’s 185.891 mph who will start outside pole. Dixon's speed of 186.256 mph shattered the previous speed record of 180.375 mph held by Sato since 2011. Qualifying third through fifth were: Helio Castroneves, Ryan Briscoe and Carlos Munoz.

The Iowa Corn Indy 300 will be televised live tomorrow night starting at 8pm ET on the NBC Sports Network.

NOTES & QUOTES: Iowa Corn Indy 300 at Iowa Speedway

Takuma Sato On:

o First Impression: “I was very impressed by the track’s incredibly steep banking with such tight corners, it was like nothing I had ever seen before. I immediately loved this place when I first drove it. It is a great challenge for drivers and physically it’s highly demanding as well. We reach massive 6Gs in qualifying and that’s the highest G-force I have had in all of my driving experience.”

o Iowa Speedway: “Racing at Iowa is always great fun, and it is tricky. I had some good moments but this place is not necessarily very kind to me. In my first year, I was running third but then I got too optimistic when I was lapping other cars and it ended my race. I got my first pole position in my second year but caught a bump after the pit stop and hit the wall…etc. We had a strong race last year but unfortunately we suffered with a problem. So it has been very tricky but I always enjoy racing there. I think Iowa is a fantastic short oval.”

o The challenge of this unique track and effects on:

 

  • Car setup: “It’s a mixture of setting between an oval and a road course. You have such a steep bank and the road course aero package (high downforce) which means the car is squashed big time with a massive vertical load but it’s still traveling at 185mph.”
  • Race strategy: “Since the track is so short, you lose two laps in the pit work. Nothing you can do about it but a bad timing of yellow will be costly here.”
  • Aggression level: “Nothing needs to be any different, but it’s a night race so the condition will be changing from warm evening start to cool temperature after sunset. So the car will be reacting differently and I have to be aware all the time and need to adapt carefully. For example, when it cools down, the car goes faster and the air is denser which means the car will sink lower to the track, so where you were kissing the bumps, you could be bottoming out.”

 

o Is Iowa Speedway a “No attack, no chance” track or “Discretion is better part of valor” track?  “Well it’s both. As I explained above, the condition is changing a lot and it is a very tricky track but if you’re not racing hard then you won’t get the result you want. It is always a balance.”

o Tough season: “Yes, it’s been a very tough season… a lot of bad luck and unfortunate situations. Collecting debris from the car that crashed just in front of us, flat tyre, mechanical and electrical failures, hit by somebody and of course some racing accidents so you could say a lot happened to us. But we have been fast at most places and that is encouraging. We always need to find areas to improve and try to minimize avoidable mistakes or incidents, and then we just have to keep pushing.”

o Five Top 10 starts, including 2 poles. Does that keep spirits up?  “Yes. We don’t belong at the bottom of standing sheet. But we need to see the facts as they are and we all need to improve. The speed we have is encouraging and we have been strong on many occasions so we’ll keep being positive and race hard for the second half of the season.”