Notes & Quotes: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

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

AJ Foyt Racing is the only team to have competed in every race (274) since the Indy Racing League began in 1996. This race will be the team’s 275th start, Sato’s 89th, and Hawksworth’s 20th in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Driving for Foyt, Sato won the event in 2013 to become the first Japanese driver to win an IndyCar race.

TAKUMA SATO ON:

Long Beach circuit: “The Long Beach track has a great balance of layout. It has both high-speed and low-speed corners and heavy braking followed by good straights which means there are a few over-taking opportunities for drivers. The track is a little on the lower side of grip-level but it can evolve a lot over the weekend as it rubbers down in the usually consistently good weather. The venue has a fantastic atmosphere and great restaurants downtown or nearby. It’s just one of the best street courses I’ve known from many aspects.”

What makes winning at Long Beach so special: “Long Beach has got a long racing history with the greatest series [F-1 and IndyCar]. People love this race and winning it makes it even more valuable and special.”

How the new aero kit will affect how he drives there: “It will affect the set-up as we have more down-force now. It should be a similar trend to the opening race which was another street course [St. Petersburg]. We were competitive there so we will see. In terms of driving approach, it shouldn’t be much different and we will love it with more grip available. You can brake late and carry more speed than ever. It will be exciting.”

Key factor to success at Long Beach: “The car needs a very good mechanical grip for sure and downforce level should be varied. Some cars will have heavy and some will have light because the track has a long straight and you need to be fast there, as well as good on the corners, so finding a good balance for the downforce level is a key factor.”

Why experience seems more valuable here (many multiple race winners like Al Unser Jr., Paul Tracy, Sebastien Bourdais, Will Power, etc.): “Perhaps the track condition is quite stable for many years because the weather is consistent and the track requires precision from many angles. If it were the opposite way around, then the winner might be changing all the time… So let’s hope that history repeat itself!”

JACK HAWKSWORTH ON:

Long Beach Grand Prix: “Long Beach is one of the most historic street circuits in the world and the list of great champions who have won there is endless. It's a bit like the Indianapolis of street course racing and its history and prestige definitely sets it apart. In terms of track layout, it is very technical and challenging.”

What he will look for in his Track Walk on Thursday: “Usually we'll look for changes in the track surface and corners’ radiuses in comparison to previous years. Street circuits in particular are an ever evolving animal and it’s quite common to find little changes from year to year. It's also a great time to talk about the specific driving and handling challenges each corner presents and what kind of things the car might need to deal with the challenges.”

What he likes about racing at Long Beach: “The weather and the atmosphere. It's a fantastic track in the best location! The circuit has a fantastic feel to it and there is always a great crowd and buzz around the paddock.”

Last year’s race there: “We had a quick car in qualifying but we struggled a little for pace in the race. With that said, we ran top six for most of the race before the leaders crashed in front and I got collected in the accident. We sustained some damage but managed to get to the end albeit a few laps down.”

What he learned from the New Orleans race: “It's true that NOLA wasn't a good weekend on any front result-wise for us, but sometimes these kinds of race weekends are actually the most productive in the long run--they force you to dig deep and figure out how to come back stronger. I think we already have a pretty good handle on a few of the issues which hindered us and this will certainly help us all moving forward. Last time out on a street circuit (St Pete) the team showed some great pace in practice, qualifying and the race. With this in mind, alongside the great people we have in the team and the lessons from NOLA in the bank, I see no reason why the ABC Supply cars won't be up there fighting for a good result!”