Race Report: MAVTV 500

FONTANA, Calif. June 27, 2015—The box score results will show Takuma Sato finished 18th today at Auto Club Speedway, a two-mile banked superspeedway in Southern California. But for those who witnessed the MAVTV 500 either in person or on the NBC Sports Network broadcast, they saw Sato drive the race of his life for 240 pf the 250-lap race.

Teammate Jack Hawksworth wasn’t quite as competitive in his No. 41 ABC Supply Honda but he was able to finish 10th, his first top-10 since placing seventh in Detroit last month.

It appeared Sato could put his No. 14 ABC Supply Honda anywhere on the track running high, low or in the middle of the four (and sometimes five) groove track. Although he favored the high line, he made some of his most dramatic passes on the low side entering Turn 1, thus bringing to mind “No attack, no chance.”

Sato led six times for a total of 31 laps. Twice he had to pit for new bodywork, taking a new nose on lap 138 –which the ABC Supply team fitted along with tires and fuel in just 13.3 seconds! He restarted 14th and took the lead back on lap 174.

He pitted from fourth on lap 188 but got hit by Sage Karam which required replacing the rear bumper on lap 197 during the caution period for debris (a result of the Karam punt). This replacement took longer and Sato lost a lap which he regained when the yellow came out on lap 221 (for debris).Now back on the lead lap, Sato pitted on lap 224 while 17th.

When the green came out on lap 227, it was a 23-lap sprint race to the checkers. Sato, still 17th, set the fastest lap of the race (218.164mph) on lap 229. Eight laps later he was fourth. On lap 240, he became the filling in a Chevy sandwich as he exited Turn 4 with Will Power to his right and Scott Dixon to his left.  Power squeezed down from the high line and Dixon drifted up from the low line. Sato tried to avoid Power but then he couldn’t avoid Dixon too and they touched wheels, sending Sato into Power and causing both cars to spin and hit the outside wall hard. They slid across the track and came to rest on the infield. Both drivers emerged unscathed but deeply disappointed.

Qualifying Report: MAVTV 500

FONTANA, Calif. June 26, 2015—Under hot, sunny skies, Takuma Sato qualified ninth in the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda at Auto Club Speedway this afternoon. Teammate Jack Hawksworth will start 17th in the No. 41 ABC Supply Honda for the MAVTV 500.

“I’m very pleased – it was a good performance from the team,” Sato said, after posting a two-lap average speed of 217.109mph which made him the second fastest Honda driver in qualifying. “In practice we weren’t able to optimize the car but they put everything together in qualifying and I was able to run on the bottom of the lane which is difficult to hold the line because it’s bumpier.  The first lap was good but on the second one it naturally started sliding so I lost a little bit of speed. To be in the top-10 is a good place to start.”

“We had a little too much downforce in the car, we should have trimmed out a little more,” Hawksworth said, whose average speed of 215.346mph put him on the inside of row nine. “It was one of those deals where we didn’t know. We thought the pace might be slower than it was but it wasn’t, the track was very quick and had a lot of grip so we got caught out by that a little bit. But the car was good in practice today so we think we can have a good race tomorrow.”

Simon Pagenaud won the pole with his average speed of 218.952mph in his Team Penske Chevrolet. Second through fifth were Helio Castroneves, Marco Andretti, Ed Carpenter, and Juan Pablo Montoya.

The 250-lap race around the two-mile track will be broadcast live starting at 4 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network.

Notes & Quotes: MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway

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


Auto Club Speedway: “Auto Club Speedway is one of the most exciting high speed ovals. It’s a very fast track and there are lots of overtaking opportunities. I always enjoy racing there and I have great support too [from the fans].

On racing during day vs. night: “Running the race during the heat of the day will be very tough. You lose tons of downforce with the high ambient temperature and you lose significant mechanical grip due to the high track temperature as tires are given a very hard time. So there will not be enough grip and the race will be a tough one to deal with as a driver.”

Last year’s best start/finish (4th/6th) for you and team at ACS: “We worked one specific setting for a long time and finally it seemed to work better. The track is quite bumpy so you need a very good mechanical grip and try to reduce the downforce. The boys did very fast pit stops last year so that helped for track position too!”

The aerokit at ACS: “I think we will have a tough race but we learned a lot from both Indy and Texas so it’s expected to be competitive. Especially the tire management (like Texas) will be very important as we will have a day time race and it will be very much grip-limited compared to the previous night races there.”

His weekend off: “I had a very busy week with appearances and a photo shoot in Japan, but had a good weekend off to spend some time with my family. I am now very refreshed and ready to get back in the car!”


Auto Club Speedway: “It's an interesting oval, certainly the bumpiest oval on the calendar, and coupled with the seams and the amount of dust the track holds, it is extremely tricky and not an easy place to get it right! It really demands the drivers and engineers to be on top of the car across the seams. I like the challenge it brings and it's one of the most unique tracks on the calendar.”

Day vs. Night races: “I have always preferred the oval races at night, I think it brings more of a stadium atmosphere. However racing in the day will bring some new challenges especially from a track temperature point of view. The track could be a little greasier with the sun on it and that could make finding the correct balance in the race just a little harder.”

What he did for fun last year in Fontana: “I had my first ever In & Out burger! Does that count?”

What he did on his weekend off: “I spent some time back at home in the U.K, the first time I've been back since Christmas and New Year. I spent most of the weekend just catching up with friends and family! It was a lot of fun and I have to say I now feel refreshed and recharged heading into the final part of the season!”

This season’s performance: Takuma Sato’s best performance to date has come at Detroit with his best start of fourth in Race 1 and his best finish of second in Race 2. It was his first podium finish since his runner-up finish in Brazil in 2103. For Jack Hawksworth this year, his best finish of seventh came in both races in Detroit, while his best start of eighth came in New Orleans. Hawksworth has been plagued by red flags (for others) during his qualifying sessions on road/street courses this year. The MAVTV 500 will be Sato’s 97th IndyCar race and Hawksworth’s 28th race.

Past Performance at Auto Club Speedway: Takuma Sato and the ABC Supply team both posted their best start of fourth and best finish of sixth at Auto Club Speedway last year. Jack Hawksworth, starting 17th, had an issue on the warm-up lap and had to pit which contributed to his losing a lap after the first pit stop; he never made up the lap despite having a competitive car; he finished 15th.