Notes & Quotes: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

Takuma Sato is in his fifth season driving Indy cars; it is his second year with the ABC Supply/AJ Foyt Racing team. Following are Takuma’s thoughts on:

o Standing starts: “I like standing starts in general. Most of my racing career I had done in that way until I arrived in the IndyCar Series, but I don’t mind the standing or rolling starts. It’s nice to show the fans and be a little different. We had only done standing starts twice in the last season and on both occasions it was pretty good, so I expect the Long Beach start will be spectacular.  On the technical side, the Honda engine configuration is different this year because it’s a twin turbo so we need to adapt for the new torque curve. We didn’t have much chance to practice at winter testing so we will see how we can catch up and improve our start performance in the practice sessions. Long Beach has done standing starts in its history so it should be fun.”

o Coming back to Long Beach as the defending winner: “It was a very special day for me, so going back there I feel good and confident. We should be able to show a strong performance again.”

o How the Long Beach victory changed him: “It changed my environment nicely a bit, but the important point is that as we did it, we became a very strong group as a team. I always believed that we could do the job but until you’ve actually done it, it would be only a hope, a dream and an objective. You believe it, and keep challenging, then it happens.”

o The key to running well at Long Beach: “Long Beach is a typical street course, mostly 90 degree corners. So the car needs to react well from heavy braking to sharp turn-in and quick exit. Also the track has one of the tightest and slowest hairpins in the series and so it requires very strong traction coming out corner.”

o How tough it would be to win back-to-back races: “It will always be tough to win this race-- everything has to be perfect -- but why not?  We will certainly try our best and aim to win.”

o His start to the 2014 season: “Well, we had a slightly bitter race result at the season-opening race [starting on pole and finishing 7th], but overall, I think it’s a very good start of the season. We had a fantastic performance throughout the weekend but especially in Qualifying; and we raced hard to get valuable good points. It is great to see the team’s winter preparation showing so positively. We will continue to work hard.”

Past performance at Long Beach: Takuma Sato’s best start is fourth, which he achieved in 2013 in his first season with the ABC Supply/AJ Foyt Racing team.  His best finish is first, winning the 2013 race in his fourth start at Long Beach.  Last year’s fourth place start is the best for the ABC Supply team whose best finish is first (2013).

Milestones: Sato recorded his fourth pole when he won the Verizon P1 award at St. Petersburg in March. It was the team’s 44th pole and 11th since A.J. Foyt retired in 1993. Sato’s 2013 victory at Long Beach was his first in the Verizon IndyCar Series and the 43rd for A.J. Foyt’s team (and eighth since he retired).

The ABC Supply/AJ Foyt Racing Team will participate in the “Thunder Thursday on Pine Avenue” pit stop challenge which starts at 6 p.m. Takuma Sato will be on hand to drive the car.

ABC Supply roofing customer, NuShake Roofing, located in Ripon, Calif., won the ‘Your Name Here’ contest for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The company name will be 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.

ABC Supply enters its 10th season as sponsor of A.J. Foyt’s team. In the course of the past nine years, the company has entertained well over 50,000 associates and customers at IndyCar Series events. This Sunday, the company will have over 400 guests in attendance.

The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will be shown live at 4:00 p.m. ET Sunday, April 13 on NBC Sports Network.