Sato: You need to get Turns 1 and 3 right
Takuma Sato and the ABC Supply/AJ Foyt Racing team are in their first season together. Sato is making his first start at Pocono Raceway. At Iowa Speedway, Sato did not finish the race after qualifying 7th (he started 17th due to unscheduled engine change). Sato is now eighth in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings.
Takuma Sato On:
Pocono Raceway: “I enjoyed coming to Pocono for the first time and driving this very unique oval. All corners have a different characteristic and are very challenging. We’re traveling similar speeds to Indianapolis so the front straight is very fast but you don’t feel the speed because it is so wide; all you can see are beautiful mountains and trees—it’s a very open, airy view. But you do realize how fast you are traveling when you reach Turn 1 which is very tight [laughs].
"You’re still traveling very fast as you go through Turn 1; there’s a lot of banking and it’s progressive banking so it’s pretty tricky. You need to figure out a good line. Indy’s Turn 1 is just a 90 degree turn but this Turn 1 is almost kind of a hairpin the way it comes back on itself a little bit. It’s just a long corner. I think there are a lot of overtaking possibilities approaching Turn 1. Turn 2 for us is just a kink, the same as a straight in that nothing happens. It’s a little bumpy but we can go through there flat no problem. The most challenging corner could be Turn 3 which has almost no banking support--the least of the three corners. The car behaves differently from Turn 1 where there is banking. With the speedway setup (low downforce) the car does go through the flat corner but it’s quite tricky to control. Overall, I really enjoyed driving this challenging track.”
Open Test at Pocono Raceway: “In the morning we just went through the basics of the set up because we hadn’t tested at Pocono unlike some of the others so we needed to find out how our initial setup worked. In the afternoon we explored some different setups that you can’t do on a race weekend because you don’t have time. With the open test, we were able to explore and look for a better setup. I think we made good progress and we learned a lot. On Saturday, we’ll combine our good data from today and hopefully we can run in traffic to prepare for the race.”
The key setup for the race: “You have to focus on both Turn 1 and 3 together. You need to have a good car to go through Turn 3 and follow the car ahead of you closely enough to be able to overtake it in Turn 1. But if you’re not quick enough in Turn 1, then you can’t use Turns 2 and 3 to catch up to them. If you had to weigh which corner is most important I would say Turn 3. It is the one you need to focus on most to get you off down the long straight, but it is always a balance.”
Advice from A.J. Foyt, four-time winner at Pocono: “We talked about it before I came here knowing that A.J. is a master of it. Obviously it’s a different time and the track has been resurfaced but the overall characteristics are the same. He gave me little tips on how you set up the car targeting turn 1 and turn 3, some little tricks. I needed to learn the track first to see exactly what he was meaning… I’m happy to take any advice he gives to me because he has great eyes to see really what's happening and even though he drove in a different time, his comments are really accurate and I love it. And of course, he won here four times and is very strong so he is the man to talk. I wish he was here but he’s recovering from hip surgery. He said he has a lot of pain at the moment but the surgery was successful and he’s doing pretty good.”
Three Abreast Start at Pocono: “The track is wide enough to do it so it’s fine. It’s the widest main straight that we race on so why not? Turn 1 will be busy with all the cars funneling through but it’s wide enough to go through there two-wide so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. It will be exciting for the fans—if we behave.”
A.J. Foyt was released from Methodist Hospital in Houston on Wednesday, July 3 after having hip replacement surgery on his left hip July 1. Foyt is recovering at home. The doctors told him it would be six to eight weeks before he can travel.
Past performance: As a driver, A.J. Foyt competed at Pocono 17 times in the 19 years that the track hosted the Indy cars (1971 – 1989). His team fielded a car for Sammy Sessions in 1972 when A.J. was injured from an accident in DuQuoin. In 1983, the only track his Indy car team competed at was Indianapolis (his father died that May). At Pocono, he had eight top 10 finishes including four victories (‘73, ‘75, ‘79, ‘81). The 1981 victory was Foyt’s last as a driver in Indy cars. He started in the top-10 ten times with five front row starts earning two poles (‘77, ‘79).
ABC Supply will host over 500 guests on race day at Pocono Raceway. The company is in its ninth year as primary sponsor of A.J. Foyt’s No. 14. Since ABC Supply began sponsoring AJ Foyt Racing in 2005, they have entertained well over 47,000 people at IZOD IndyCar Series events.