Race Report: Firestone 600
FT. WORTH June 7, 2014—The Firestone 600 turned into another heartbreak event for Takuma Sato and the ABC Supply team. This time the car lost power and caught on fire with seven laps to go in the 248-lap race at Texas Motor Speedway Saturday night.
Sato coasted the car onto the Turn 1 apron where he exited quickly, escaping unhurt. For the third straight race, Sato was credited with an 18th place finish.
Sato’s caution flag came out to allow the safety crew to move his car from the track, but it also set up a three lap shootout among the six cars still on the lead lap.
Ed Carpenter held off a hard charging Will Power to win the race for the team’s second victory of the season. Power and Simon Pagenaud had pitted for fresh tires during the final caution period and that decision enabled Power to charge from fifth to second and Pagenaud from sixth to fourth. Juan Pablo Montoya finished third, while Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan finished fifth and sixth.
Sato, who started 16th, struggled in the race’s early going, but the team made changes to the car to improve its handling. In the second half of the race, Sato passed several cars on the track but he was a lap down to some of them so he didn’t improve his position quite as much on the scoring tower. He was running 13th when his race-ending problem arose.
"Tough night for the ABC Supply 14 car,” said Sato afterwards. “We started the race just after sunset when it was still warm but as the temperature dropped the car's balance was shifting. We were able to adjust and we gained positions on the track.
“Although we had more downforce this year, the (tire) degradation was huge. By the end of the fuel stint you were hanging on. The ABC crew did a good job with quick stops but unfortunately we had a failure in the end (which caught the car on fire) and had to stop the car. I think we learned some things tonight that will help us in the future. I'm looking forward to racing in the team's hometown in three weeks."
The team is testing at the Milwaukee Mile this week but their next race is the doubleheader street race in Houston. The Grand Prix of Houston will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network June 28-29 with both race broadcasts starting at 3:00 p.m. ET.