Notes & Quotes: Kohler Grand Prix at Road America

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

Takuma Sato On:

His first impression of Road America: “Road America is very impressive and a great fun track as expected. I’ve heard so many positive stories about Road America since I joined the IndyCar Series, and I know everyone and as well as the fans wanted IndyCar to go back there. So it was a nice experience that we had a great crowd show up at the test day last fall, and I had a lot of fun driving this superb track.”

Whether RA resembles any tracks in Europe: “A little bit but not necessarily. If anything is similar, it is as fast as I experienced at possibly Imola [outside of Bologna, Italy]. Both tracks are the classic narrow type of track but very fast with good elevation change.”

Whether the new aero kit will make much difference vs. last year’s test: “I think it’s not hugely different but sure there is some. We learned a lot at the test but it was last year's car and there are quite a few things that have changed both mechanically and aerodynamically. Especially we need to learn how the low downforce package is going to work which we haven’t been able to try. We were going to go to the test after Texas race but preparation time for it became too tight as the race was delayed due to weather, so we will need to maximize our practice time on race weekend to ensure our set-up has made a good progress since the last test.”

The most challenging aspect of the circuit: “For the drivers, you need a lot of commitment because there are so many fast corners. From an engineering perspective, you need a good stable car through the high speed sections and performance under braking with such a low downforce car.’

The Road America bratwurst: “I know it’s famous in Wisconsin so I must try it!”

Jack Hawksworth On:

His first impression of Road America: “I love the Road America, it's very quick, has a variety of corners and is the only track we go to that is over four miles in length. I had a fantastic time racing there in 2014 made even better by the fact that I had a very quick car.” Note: Hawksworth, teamed with Chris Cumming, started 13th overall (2nd in the PC class) and finished 12th overall (4th in the PC class), driving the RSR Racing ORECA FLM09.

The difference driving the IndyCar vs the sports car he drove in 2014: “The Indycar has a lot more grip and downforce so certainly braking will be later and the corner speeds higher. It'll just be a case of adapting to the car and putting it on the limit. In terms of passing, it should in theory be easier as we have the push-to-pass system in Indycar racing.”

What he liked about the circuit: “Road America has a lot of character, and it is technical like other road courses yet it still allows for a lot of passing and action due to the length of some of the straights and the big braking zones.”

The most challenging aspect of this circuit: “There is nothing particular that stands out, it's all challenging in its own way. We will be starting on the back foot a little [note: the team didn’t test there as planned] but we have the people and ideas to make progress and hopefully be there by qualifying.”

Whether he has tried the Road America bratwurst: “Nope... It's swimsuit season!”

Neither Takuma Sato nor Jack Hawksworth has raced Indy cars at Road America: Sato tested his No. 14 ABC Supply Honda at the track last fall. Hawksworth did not test an Indy car at RA. However, he competed in a WEC race at the 4-mile circuit in 2014. Teamed with Chris Cumming, Hawksworth started 13th overall (2nd in the PC class) and finished 12th overall (4th in the PC class), driving the RSR Racing ORECA FLM09. The Foyt team’s plan to test on June 15th was thwarted by the one day rain delay at Texas Motor Speedway June 11-12. There wasn’t enough time to return to the Waller shop, turn the cars around for the road course and arrive on Tuesday in preparation for Wednesday’s test given the 1250-mile trip from Waller to Elkhart Lake.

A.J. Foyt returns to Road America after 21 years: Foyt’s last trip to Road America was in 1995 when his car was running in the CART IndyCar Series. In his team’s eight races there, the best start was eighth with Robby Gordon in 1993, and their best finish was eighth with Mike Groff in 1991. Foyt had the second best finish of 10th in 1988. He sustained severe injuries to his feet and legs in September, 1990 when the brakes failed on his Lola at the end of the front straight and he sailed into a dirt embankment. He spent the next eight months recovering but made it to his then 34th straight Indy 500. 

Race Report: Firestone 600

FORT WORTH, Texas June 12, 2016—The Firestone 600 was rained out for the second straight day at Texas Motor Speedway although not before 71 laps of the 248 lap race were in the record books.

Thunderstorms on Saturday and the resulting seepage of water onto the track surface forced the initial postponement of the race until today. Track crews worked on the track from dawn until the race started at 1:48 p.m. to control the water that was seeping onto the track from the saturated ground underneath the asphalt.

Takuma Sato started fourth in the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda but fell back to 16th in the opening laps. He began to make forward progress as he neared his first pit stop. The crew serviced him with fuel, tires and a front wing adjustment in just 6.38 seconds. The changes worked and he began his march to the front but a horrific crash on lap 42 involving Conor Daly and Josef Newgarden coming onto the frontstretch out of Turn 4 brought out the yellow. Daly was not injured but Newgarden sustained a fractured right clavicle and a small fracture on his right hand.

Sato, who went a lap down during a controversial pit stop cycle under yellow, was back in 17th place. Jack Hawksworth, who started 20th, lost two laps due to problems on two pit stops. Marty Armstrong, inside front tire changer on the 41 car, sustained a cut to his lower back on the second pit stop due to a whipping air hose which knocked him down, but was treated and released at the infield care center.

The race, which ran under yellow for nearly 30 laps, was halted for rain on lap 71. As more rain was predicted for this week, and with the track seepage problem, INDYCAR officials announced that the race would be resumed on Saturday night, August 27th which is the weekend after the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway.

Sato will restart 17th and Hawksworth will start in 20th. The top five at the time of the red flag were: James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Mikhail Aleshin, Will Power and Ed Carpenter.

 

 

 

Qualifying Report:  Firestone 600

Fort Worth, Texas June 10, 2015—Takuma Sato qualified fourth at Texas Motor Speedway in the ABC Supply Honda, bringing the No. 14 back to the sharp end of the grid at the team’s home track.

Sato, whose previous best start was 11th at this track, posted a two-lap average speed of 216.740mph missing out on third by one ten-thousandth of a second. His two-lap combined time of 48.3344 seconds was eclipsed by Helio Castroneves’ combined time of 48.3343 seconds. Sato will start alongside Castroneves in Row 2.

“We had a sketchy morning but the guys did a great job to put everything together and I felt pretty comfortable,” said Sato. “Working with A.J., he gave a few little tips which worked extremely well on the 14 car, so we’re very happy especially since this is our home track. The race will be a very different scenario because everything will cool down and we’ll have more downforce and more grip available. The car is in the ballpark and we have the final practice tonight to fine-tune the race setup.”

Hawksworth did not have as strong a run as Sato but he ran a slightly different setup in qualifying. His two-lap average speed of 214.568mph put him in 20th which is outside Row 10.

“The car was pretty loose and I thought if it was that loose then it would have been faster than it was because I was pretty much flat,” said a disappointed Hawksworth. “It wasn’t very quick and was really hard to drive so it was a difficult qualifying session.”

Carlos Munoz won his first career pole in the Verizon IndyCar Series with an average speed of 217.137mph. Scott Dixon was second followed by Castroneves, Sato and Josef Newgarden.

In the final practice session this evening, Hawksworth found speed and posted a lap of 212.604mph in race trim which was fifth quickest. Sato was sixth quick with a speed of 212.485mph. However, the drivers cautioned that the speed was due to new tires that last just a few laps. The goal will be to make the car consistent over the fuel stint even as the grip in the tires fades.

The Firestone 600 will be broadcast tomorrow evening by NBC Sports Network at 8 p.m. ET.

 

Notes & Quotes: Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway

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

TAKUMA SATO ON:

Texas Motor Speedway: "Texas Motor Speedway is the team's home track so we want to do well there of course. We missed the test there but I feel quite positive about going back to a superspeedway. Texas is a high banked oval which allows us to race two and three wide plus we race under the lights at night so that makes it super exciting for the fans --and the drivers as well!"

Why he likes it: “I usually enjoy racing at Texas. It’s precious, the only 1.5miles oval in the series with high banking and that means it is always an exciting race. Also it’s the team’s home race so we have a great support and it’s nice to see many of the team members’ family attend the event. Having said that, oval racing could be so much fun when car works well but if the car is not very friendly then it could be quite difficult to enjoy. We had tough races in last few seasons here so hopefully we have a strong package and enjoy this special race.”

Correlation between Indy and Texas: “The basics work similar so there is correlation between Indy and Texas but the banking is quite different so we need to adjust details for that. We also have to use different aero configuration by regulation so we need to go through a few test items and a lot of preparation work has to be done before heading to Texas.”

Is night racing more difficult because of shadows? “Not necessarily as long as there is a good lighting facility. The difficult part is the sunset time. If one banking still has sun light and the other one does not, then it’s hard. It used to be incredibly difficult when we had to drive towards the sun because you just can’t see properly in backlight, but recently the league waits until sunset for safety reasons so that part is less of an issue.”

How he keeps up team morale during frustrating season: “Just keep working hard with engineers and whole team. I have never doubted that we can win races again! We have a great potential so we just need to study and analyze what part didn’t work and why, so we can make continuous progress and make car faster.”

JACK HAWKSWORTH ON:

Texas Motor Speedway: "Texas is always fun, especially under the lights and if the grip allows then it opens up multiple lanes for the drivers to use. It's the team’s home race and we'll be hoping to have a better weekend there!"

Whether he enjoys racing at Texas, or like some drivers, just gets through it: “In over a decade of competing I have never gone racing to "just get through it". I'm absolutely confident that if we can develop a good race car in practice then I can compete with the best of them. We had a disaster mechanically [broken front suspension] during the race here last year but this is a new year and I know the whole team would love to get a result on home soil in beautiful Texas. “

Correlation between Indy and Texas: “I don't know how much correlation there really is. The track surface is much rougher in Texas, the banking is much steeper and we also run a slightly different aero configuration. I would compare Texas more to a Fontana/Iowa type circuit in terms of setup.”

Is night racing more difficult because of shadows? “It can be a bit tricky during the sunset period of the race as the sun is very low and can make visibility in one direction pretty tricky. Once it's dark, visibility is actually fine. We have some dark tear-offs on our helmets to help deal with the sun initially.”

Prior experience with night racing before IndyCar races: “I raced at night in 2012 during the Star Mazda season. I raced at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis the night before the Indy 500.”

How he keeps up team morale during frustrating season: “As a driver you just have to focus on the job ahead, keep hitting the reset button and do the best job you can for the team. A good weekend in Texas would certainly give everybody that boost!”

Past Performance at Texas Motor Speedway: Sato’s best start in six races is 11th in 2010 and his best finish is fifth in 2011 (both races were with KV Racing Technology).  Hawksworth has only two starts at TMS with 17th being his best in 2015 but he dropped out with a failed suspension. He placed 15th in 2014. The team won here in 1998 with Billy Boat and Foyt believes they won in 1997 too but that win was given to Arie Luyendyk by IRL and USAC which was in charge of the scoring. USAC no longer sanctioned IndyCar competition following that event.