Race Report: Iowa Corn 300

NEWTON, Iowa July 18, 2015—The Iowa Corn 300 provided another exciting wheel-to-wheel battle in the Verizon IndyCar Series. There were 15 lead changes among 10 drivers.

Although the ABC Supply team was not in the thick of the battle for most of the night, Jack Hawksworth came from nearly last to lead seven laps in the No. 41 ABC Supply Honda.

Although varying pit strategies played into those circumstances, Hawksworth did find himself racing with the leaders before he became the leader at the 250-mile mark. He lost the lead when he pitted on lap 257 under green. Despite his efficient pit stop he fell to 12th and went a lap down. His car didn’t handle quite as well in the final stint and he slipped to 13th at the end.

“Well it was a fun race, we had a lot of battling out there,” said Hawksworth. “We had a pretty strong race going and we were hovering around the top 10. Then at the end we had to go to the tires from qualifying which were a little bit older than we liked. I also think we missed the tire pressures at the end because the car was moving around a bit and we fell back a couple positions. Not where we want to be, but happy to get a few points on the board.”

Takuma Sato had struggled for most of the race. In his final stint, he felt the car had come into its own only to have a failure in the brand new right front suspension which sent him into the Turn 2 wall. Sato was fortunate to escape injury, but his car sustained extensive damage. He was credited with 19th place.

It is believed to be the second suspension failure of the night. The brand new beefier suspensions were mandated for this race because officials were concerned that the track’s high banking would generate excessive forces on the cars’ suspensions. Apparently they were right.

“Tough night,” said Sato, who started 15th. “To predict the conditions is almost impossible because we never had a night session in practice. We started the race in warm conditions this evening and finished off in cool conditions so from that point of view it’s difficult to determine the amount of downforce you need. We thought we optimized the car but I think we needed a little more downforce to be fast tonight. It was an exciting race, lots of side by side racing. For a couple stints we couldn’t manage tire pressure well. It was very sensitive which was surprising. Some stints I struggled but on the very last stint, the car came together and we were making good time but unfortunately there was a right front suspension failure. There was no warning, the car bottomed out and I was just a passenger. It was a shame.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay won the race. He was followed across the line by Josef Newgarden, Sage Karam, Graham Rahal and Carlos Munoz.

The next race on August 2nd at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will be Sato’s 100th start in the IndyCar Series. The race will be broadcast live by CNBC starting at 1:30 p.m.

Notes & Quotes: Iowa Corn 300

Takuma Sato: No. 14 ABC Supply Honda
Jack Hawksworth: No. 41 ABC Supply Honda

Takuma Sato On:

Iowa Speedway: “Iowa Speedway is small and short but I like it a lot. I think it’s a good contrast from some of super speedways but it’s suited for IndyCar. It’s a different style but it’s so much fun with such close racing with good driver's actions. I mean we drive really hard with lots of throttle control. I have great memories of my earlier visits but I do have a lack of good fortune there. Hopefully we can change that this weekend.”

Increased G-forces with new aero package: “It could be a new record this year, will see. I remember it pulled 6Gs on my pole lap which are enormous G-forces but I really did enjoy the laps. We haven’t had a big lap since there was some reduction of downforce in recent years but this year with the new aero package, it should be a lot faster.”

Increased physicality of the car at this track: “Well, you just have to be prepared, and not only for this track because the whole season has been like that. But it is true that Iowa is definitely the most physically demanding oval and it will be even tougher this year.”

What he does in Iowa for fun: “Oops, I already answered that one – see above!”

Jack Hawksworth On:

Iowa Speedway: “I was impressed with the banking and just how short the track is. The length of the circuit really makes the cars look and feel incredibly quick! It's very easy to go a lap down and catching a yellow at the wrong moment can cost you big.”

Racing at Iowa Speedway: “I enjoyed it in Mazda and Indy Lights, I had a couple of strong runs there and enjoyed the bull ring style of racing. I struggled here last year though so hopefully this year we are a little stronger!”

New aero package at Iowa: “The tire degradation should be a little better and it's possible we might be able to run side by side a little easier. It may open up some different lines and lanes during the race so the racing could be closer.”

Using Milwaukee race as test session: “We were able to confirm a few things we learned in practice and understand the car a little better. Hopefully we can use some of that information to kick off this weekend in a better place.”

Last year’s Iowa race: “This race was a bit of a disaster for us last year. We had no practice time due to the weather and then struggled to find a happy balance in the race. We weren't competitive and wound up finishing a few laps down.”

Race Report: ABC Supply Wisconsin 250

MILWAUKEE July 12, 2015—Nearly 1900 guests of ABC Supply saw Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth demonstrate their tenacity in the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at the Milwaukee Mile today. Although their effort did not result in a top-10 finish, the team learned valuable information with regard to the new aero kit that will benefit them moving forward.

In a packed race day schedule, the noontime qualifying session under hot, sunny skies, proved challenging to many teams. Sato, one of the quickest in practice at the one mile oval, qualified a surprising 13th on the grid. Hawksworth, who had been struggling with his car’s handling in practice, started 21st.  By the second lap, Sato had fallen back to 18th and Hawksworth was 20th. By lap 30, they were 21st and 22nd as they soldiered on until the first round of pit stops.

When they pitted on lap 52, changes were made to both cars but they lost a lap to the leader. The No. 14 ABC Supply Honda’s handling improved, but Hawksworth’s No. 41 began losing power which the team eventually traced to a throttle pedal problem. By the time the problem was corrected after two pit stops and a trip behind the pit wall to work on the car, Hawksworth had lost 27 laps. At that point, the race had become a test session which they put to good use.

After Sato’s pit stop on lap 102, the car’s handling improved to the point where he was running with the leaders. When the yellow came out on lap 114 for James Jakes’ blown engine, Sato didn’t pit in hopes of getting a wave-around and getting his lap back. Unfortunately, leader Sebastien Bourdais didn’t pit either so there was no hope of getting the lap back during that caution period. When he was running behind Bourdais through the middle stint of the race, both drivers pulled away from the field.