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.