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.