Sato Starts in Sixth Row in Sao Paulo

SAO PAULO, Brazil May 4, 2013—Takuma Sato qualified 12th in the ABC Supply Honda Saturday afternoon on the streets of Sao Paulo as the field was set for the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300.

Sato advanced out of the first round of knockout qualifying where he was fifth quickest of the 12 cars in his group. However, in the second round, Sato was only able to post a time of 1:21.36 for a speed of 112.210mph around the 2.53-mile, 11-turn temporary circuit. He will line up alongside J.R. Hildebrand. It is the second time this season he will start 12th.

“A difficult day for us,” said Sato. “We couldn’t pick up the good speed and balance. We lost something.  It was very difficult to get it all put together. It’s a shame. The guys have been working very hard but we just couldn’t find the good grip and balance.  Tonight we’ll review everything and hopefully we’ll find improvements for the race.”

There were two practice sessions earlier in the day. Sato was eighth in the first session and dropped to 16th in the second session.

Ryan Hunter-Reay won his second pole of the season by setting a track record with his time of 1:20.43 for a speed of 113.5mph in his Andretti Autosport Chevrolet. Second through sixth were E.J. Viso (Andretti Autosport teammate), Dario Franchitti (Honda), Tony Kanaan (C), James Hinchcliffe (also AA teammate) and Scott Dixon (H).

Will Power, who was quickest in both practice sessions, and his teammate Helio Castroneves, were shut out in the first round when an early red flag cut the session short before those drivers ran a hot lap. Power, who has won every race in Sao Paulo (and the last two from the pole), will start 22nd while Castroneves will start 18th.

Highlights from qualifying can be viewed tonight on NBC Sports Network at 1:00 a.m. ET. NBC Sports Network will broadcast the race live with the pre-race show starting at 11:00 a.m. ET and the green flag waving at just past 11:30 a.m. ET.