Takuma Sato's wheel did indeed fall off. On his second practice lap something failed on the right front sending Sato into the wall, trailing sparks behind him. The car will be fixed in time for the race, with failure damage to the right front (rocker arm?) and crash damage to the right rear (carbon fiber bits, suspension arms, etc.). Sato was unhurt and will run tonight.
We talked with Simon Pagenaud, the series point leader who will start tonight's race 15th, after the ten minute practice session. We asked him what he learned in the session. "It was great to get a bit of time on the track. I am happy because the car was perfect. Which is awesome because we don't have time to change the car. She was really good."
"The temperatures tonight are going to drop, the track usually gets loose when that happens. So I expect to see quite a bit of tire wear. If there is a shoot out at the end, that is where you need to trim to being able to go faster in one lap. We have a high downforce level so I think for the position we are in, that is what we want to do. So I can be aggressive and go to the front and stay there all day."
To go over what we've already published — the drivers will line up as they were when they stopped the race back in June with Hinchcliffe leading. Conor and Josef will be watching, although this time neither is in the hospital. The teams get 70 gallons of fuel, and the same tires that they had back in June (they were impounded by Firestone / IndyCar). It should be a quick show, since it will start of lap 71.
Former CART and NASCAR driver Robbie Gordon stopped my the TMS Media Center to promote the Stadium Super Truck race that will be coming to TMS. You'll recall the trucks jumping at Long Beach and Detroit. He basically dusted off the remains of the old Mickey Thompson series to create the current series. The trucks are basically the same, with the series providing one technical person to assist the drive (most drivers bring another technician with them). Robbie said that set up time and tear down time were less than 10 minutes each.
— Tim Wohlford and Lucille Dust, reporting from TMS