Practice Report: Honda Indy Toronto

TORONTO (July 15, 2016)--Jack Hawksworth and Takuma Sato took to the streets in Toronto’s Exhibition Place today with both drivers making it into the top 10—in different sessions.

Piloting the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda, Sato was fourth quickest in the opening session this morning with a time of 1 minute, 3.1925 seconds (101.746mph) while Hawksworth was 21st, his time was 1 minute, 4.2346 seconds (100.096mph). Sebastien Bourdais paced the field posting a time of 1 minute, 2.9290 seconds (102.172mph).

In the afternoon session, it was Hawksworth who improved significantly in his No. 41 ABC Supply Honda, moving into 10th with a time of 1 minute, 2.5737 seconds (102.752mph) while Sato was 14th with a time of 1 minute, 2.6863 seconds (102.657mph). Simon Pagenaud took the top spot posting a time of 1 minute, 1.7081 seconds (104.194mph).

Due to the ongoing construction of a new hotel inside the 1.786-mile circuit, the pit lane was shifted from the south side to the north side of the front straightaway. The change resulted in a portion of the old pit lane now becoming part of the race course and part of the old course becoming part of the new pit lane. The new layout proved challenging for drivers and engineers alike as it changed the configuration of several turns and the track surface is even bumpier than it had been in years past.

“Encouraging day,” Sato said afterwards. “It’s always great fun to come back to Toronto, one of the most challenging street courses in the series, so bumpy, so slippery and so unpredictable. It’s all about the challenge and particularly this year because they changed the track layout due to shifting the pit lane, so that made one of the fastest corners [Turn 11] in the street courses become very slow and very tricky as well because it’s off-camber and has concrete patches, etc.  The engineers and team worked really well; we brought the car with a new philosophy of the setup and we made very good progress, so we collected a lot of good data today. Hopefully we’ll be better tomorrow.”

“We struggled a bit this morning and the car wasn’t too great but we made some changes during the break and the car was a bit better this afternoon,” Hawksworth said. “It’s still lacking some grip, not doing what I want it to do, especially the rear. Hopefully we can find a little bit more bite and get ourselves in a better position for tomorrow.”

There is another 45 minute practice tomorrow morning for teams to do their final tune-ups before qualifying which will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network starting at 1:30 p.m. ET. The race will be broadcast live on the sister network CNBC Sunday afternoon starting at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Notes & Quotes: Honda Indy Toronto

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

TAKUMA SATO On:

Toronto circuit: “Toronto is one of the most unique street courses and I enjoy the venue a lot. It has got a great atmosphere as fans are very enthusiastic and there is quite a large Japanese community there too. I also enjoy the great restaurants in downtown. But most importantly, I think we will be competitive so I look forward to it very much.”

Revised pit lane (how will it affect the race): “I haven’t seen it so I don’t know how it may affect the race, but I believe there will be no difference for the race. If anything it should be better for the team for working as there will be easier access from the paddock to pit-lane and possibly more space.”

The trickiest part of the Toronto circuit: “Most of Toronto’s corners are very tricky. There are several concrete patches at almost every corner which means the surface changes a lot during cornering. So the car is never settled because of the different levels of grip plus it is bumpy!”

The key to our success here this year: “Because of these very bumpy and tricky turns, making the car as consistent and stable as possible is a key. We have been generally strong in street courses and we are making good progress on the 2016 package, plus we had a good performance last year, so I think it will be good one for us.”

JACK HAWKSWORTH On:

Toronto: “Toronto is a fantastic place to race. It's extremely technical and there is a great atmosphere. The city embraces the race and the people of Toronto love their motorsport.”

Why it is his favorite circuit: “It's incredibly challenging and has an old school feel too it. The circuit has a wide selection of corners for a street circuit and it requires precision and commitment. It's a track that I always look forward to driving on.”

Revised pit lane (how will it affect the race): “I honestly have no idea. Perhaps it will make it a little more difficult to defend positions into Turn 1 after a pit stop due to the fact that we'll be exiting pit lane from the outside of Turn 1 rather than the inside as in years past. Other than that I imagine it will be pretty similar.”

Importance of the Track Walk: “Street circuits, due to their temporary nature, tend to change a little from year to year. This means the track walk at this kind of track is a little more important as it gives everybody a chance to see what changes have been made to the curbing, surface and temporary barriers.”

His favorite activity in Toronto: “Toronto is a great city and there is plenty to do but we are usually pretty flat out at the track and don't arrive back at the hotel until late. There are a few great Italian places I like to eat at in the evening!”

Past Performance at Toronto: Last year, Takuma Sato started eighth for a career best here and finished 10th. His career best finish is fifth (2014-Race 2). Jack Hawksworth posted his career best start of 14th last year, while his career best finish is sixth (2014 – Race 2). The ABC Supply team’s record shows better finishes than starts: 2009 Ryan Hunter-Reay started 12th, finished seventh; in 2010, Vitor Meira started 26th, finished 11th, in 2011, Meira started 14th and finished fifth and in 2012, Mike Conway started 11th and finished third.

The ABC Supply team will be busy this month and next: Following last weekend’s race in Iowa, the team pepped the cars in Iowa for the Honda Indy Toronto race this weekend. After the Toronto race, the crew will test at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course July 21, return to Houston, then fly back to Mid-Ohio the next week for the Honda Indy 200 July 29-31. After which, they will prep the superspeedway cars for their test at Pocono Raceway on August 4. They will then return to their Indianapolis shop where they will prep the road course cars for a test August 11 at Watkins Glen International (the last time INDYCAR raced at WGI was in 2010). Following that test, the crew returns to Houston where the superspeedway cars will be prepped for the ABC Supply 500 in Mt. Pocono, Pa. Aug. 19-21 and the postponed race at Texas Motor Speedway, which takes place Saturday, Aug. 27.  Following the completion of the Firestone 600 at TMS, the team will do a final prep on the road course cars before heading to Watkins Glen, N.Y. for the INDYCAR Grand Prix at the Glen on Labor Day weekend. By the time they return to Texas, they will have logged over 14,500 miles on the road…and over 12,000 Frequent Flier miles. Whew!

ABC Supply Co. enters its 12th season as marketing partner of AJ Foyt Racing: ABC Supply began sponsoring the AJ Foyt Racing team with the 2005 Indianapolis 500, and is the second longest active team sponsor in the Verizon IndyCar Series. With this season, the company ties U.S. Tobacco’s Copenhagen brand in length of sponsorship of Foyt’s team.  ABC Supply has leveraged its involvement by sponsoring races at Milwaukee and now at Pocono with the ABC Supply 500, and by entertaining over 75,000 associates and customers during the past 11 racing seasons.

Race Report: Iowa Corn 300

NEWTON, Iowa July 10, 2016—Progress. The ABC Supply Racing team continues to make progress at the tracks where they have struggled in years past such as Iowa Speedway this weekend.

Takuma Sato registered his best finish at the 0.894-mile oval today with his 11th place showing after starting 13th. Teammate Jack Hawksworth, who started 14th and ran as high as eighth, would certainly have posted his first top-10 finish here if he’d had just a wee bit of luck with the timing of the cautions. Instead his final result shows 15th despite running competitively throughout the Iowa Corn 300.

At the start, Hawksworth surged ahead only to have “a big moment” in Turns 3 and 4 and he dropped back to 17th as he gathered it up at the end of lap one.  “In the beginning I was very aggressive and tried to go around on the outside which would’ve made a great start but I got very loose in Turn 4 and nearly crashed, so I lost a few positions,” Hawksworth said. Finding his rhythm, he began picking off cars and by lap 30, he was up to 13th with his teammate ahead in 12th. When Sato had a big moment in Turn 4 just four laps later, he lost three positions and a lot of real estate as he gathered it up.

Hawksworth continued to push and had climbed to eighth, due somewhat to the pit stop cycle but as the cycle concluded, he was 12th and Sato was 15th. In the second stint the No. 41 car wasn’t quite as strong, and Hawksworth slipped back to 15th.

The caution came out on lap 109 when Ryan Hunter-Reay saw his race go up in smoke literally. A good strategy call by Team Director and race strategist George Klotz, saw Hawksworth pick up two spots during the stop under caution, while Sato’s team waited an extra lap and lost two spots despite a 6.4 second stop. Hawksworth ran 13th but then reported his right rear was going away so the team told him to pit at the beginning of the next cycle. He was coming into the pits when the yellow came out on lap 179 for Juan Pablo Montoya’s blown engine, and Hawk’s crew told him to stay out. He darted back onto the track but lost four spots as he tried to get back up to speed. However, that choice was better than the alternative.

On the restart, Sato was now 16th and Hawksworth 17th and they ran there until the next round of pit stops began. Hawksworth pitted earlier than Sato and it cost him (as well as a few others) because when the yellow came out three laps later on lap 246, he lost a lap due to pitting under green.

Hawksworth’s misfortune benefitted Sato who climbed to 13th as he leapt ahead of the cars that pitted under green. Pitting under yellow, Sato picked up another two spots, due to the quick pit work by the 14 team.

Qualifying Report: Iowa Corn 300

NEWTON, Iowa July 9, 2016 For the second time this season, Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth will start side-by-side in their ABC Supply Hondas. Under sunny skies, Sato qualified 13th in the No. 14 and Hawksworth 14th in the No. 41; the pair will start in row seven for the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway. In the season opener at St. Petersburg, they started in the fifth row.

Both drivers tested at the 0.894-mile banked oval last month which helped when the drivers were not satisfied with their cars in the morning practice today. They were able to make some adjustments for the hotter track conditions and picked up speed in qualifying. Sato posted a two-lap average speed of 181.949mph while Hawksworth was just a tick slower, averaging 181.700mph for the two laps.

Iowa qualifying is always exciting especially the bumps in Turn 3, said Sato. We didnt have a good practice session today but the testing we had last week helped us to understand where the car needs to be for qualifying. At the time when I had attacked we were fifth outit felt pretty good. I was happy with the balance and the speed and it all looked pretty strong at the time. In the end, the field is pretty tight and Im not super happy with our position but we have a better car in race trim so well see in the final warmup.

Hawksworth said, Interesting qualifying. I thought we were ok this afternoon compared to this morning when we were a bit weak in qualifying trim. They changed some bits and pieces and it was where we were at the test in terms of feeling which I liked. We had too much understeer in the car and too much scrub in our run, which probably hurt us a little bit but the good thing is we got the feeling back with the rear which I had at the test. Hopefully we can put that into the race car and do some more work tonight.

Simon Pagenaud won the Verizon P1 Award with an average speed of 185.855mph. It was the 500th pole for Team Penske (which includes his NASCAR and sports car teams as well). Starting second through fifth are Josef Newgarden, Helio Castroneves, Max Chilton and Charlie Kimball.

The race will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network Sunday afternoon starting at 5:00 p.m. ET.