Notes & Quotes: Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle

TAKUMA SATO SPEAKS …

On the Sao Paulo street circuit: “It’s quite a unique track I think. It has one of the longest straightaways in the series and it’s followed by a tight hairpin, which requires heavy braking -- and that means there are always lots of overtaking opportunities. It’s seriously bumpy on the straightaway but otherwise straightforward as the back sections of track are a good combination of slow, technical corners with a relatively smooth surface. I like the rhythm of this track.”

On the key factor to success at Sao Paulo: “Finding a balance between good top speed and strong braking stability as there is so much stop-and-go because of such a long straight.” [Front straight is 1.5km or .93 mile; back straight is 1.25 km or .77 mile]

On his strong runs in Sao Paulo: “2011 was great for me because it was a wet race, it was my first time to run the wet tires in the IndyCar Series and I felt comfortable immediately. Last year was another great race for me with good calls in the race and, having a competitive car, I had opportunities to catch the leaders and gain positions because of the many restarts because there were quite a few yellows.”

On making the Firestone Fast Six twice in the last three races: “It’s just that the team has been working so well with me. We've been making the ABC car fast very successfully most of times-- even if we struggled at some stage in the practice sessions, we always came back strongly in qualifying so I can commit 100% all the time.”

On what he likes about Brazil: “The fans, they are very enthusiastic! The food, the Churrasco is just fantastic! Good memories of racing! I love it.”

On whether Sao Paulo has changed since his F-1 days: “Nothing has been changed really. I love Brazil. I always have great fun with the Brazilian drivers. Of course they are seriously competitive all the time as history has proven but that's really great. My hero is Ayrton Senna so I can't complain about that. I love both the street course of Sao Paulo for Indycar and Interlagos for F1; I have great memories in both venues.”

On returning to Japan a winner: “It was just an amazing feeling. It had been a very busy few days while I was in Japan with many media activities and tons of greetings from everywhere. I really appreciate all the support from fans, sponsors and everyone who cheered me on. It was also great to have a winner’s press conference in Tokyo and a fan-meeting in Honda’s Aoyama building in Tokyo. It was nice to have an opportunity to say a big thank you in front of my home crowd.”

Sato logged 12,900 air miles (20,760 km) this week flying from Tokyo to Sao Paulo. After Brazil he flies to Indianapolis—a mere 5,063 miles (8,149km). He won’t be returning to Tokyo until summertime as he will be in the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda eight straight weekends (through to Iowa race on June 23rd).

Rock Solid Stabilization signs as an associate sponsor of the No. 41 ABC Supply Honda driven by Conor Daly for the Indianapolis 500. Owner Jon Pease will attend the race for the first time and is bringing a group of clients to enjoy the festivities. With locations in Ringwood, IL and Bismarck, ND, Rock Solid Stabilization & Reclamation is a full service soil stabilization/modification and pulverization contractor.

Chief Engineer Don Halliday won the Jim Greer Award of Excellence for the ABC Supply Honda-powered Dallara’s strong performance in the Long Beach Grand Prix. Commenting on the car after the race, Sato said, “It was so much fun to drive...I was really enjoying driving it. I didn’t want the race to end because the car was so good.”  Jim Greer, longtime friend of A.J. Foyt, created an award to recognize outstanding performance at race events among the Foyt team members.  The recipient receives a monetary bonus and his name (and the race) engraved on a plaque which hangs in the AJ Foyt Racing Showroom.

A.J. Foyt will attend the Kentucky Derby this weekend. Foyt, who recently underwent back surgery, is feeling strong enough to attend the Derby but he will miss the Sao Paulo race for the second straight year due  to the long flight hindering his recovery from surgeries. Foyt, who has only been to the season opener this year, will be at Indianapolis Motor Speedway when it opens next weekend.

Past performance at Sao Paulo: Takuma Sato has finished in the top-10 twice at Sao Paulo: he was eighth in 2011 and third last year.  His best start was 10th (2010-2011). The ABC Supply team’s best finish is 3rd (2010, Vitor Meira) and their best start is 7th (Mike Conway 2012).

The Sao Paulo Indy 300 will be shown live at 11:00 a.m. E.T. Sunday, May 5 on the NBC Sports Network.  The qualifying show will air early Sunday morning at 1:00 a.m. ET.