Race Report: Kohler Grand Prix at Road America

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. June 26, 2016—Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth raced strong in their first IndyCar race at Road America but the results for the Kohler Grand Prix won’t show just how strong their ABC Supply Hondas ran today before a record crowd at one of America’s most  beautiful road courses.

Sato started 15th and Hawksworth 18th in the 50-lap race around the four-mile long course through the Wisconsin Dells. Hawksworth spun on the opening lap in Turn 5 dropping to last but he kept going and then began chasing down the field. His lap times were as fast as the leaders, and by the time of his first pit stop on lap 11, he had passed seven cars.

Sato also put on a show as he moved from 15th to 10th by the time of his first stop on lap 12. The ABC Supply crew then proved to be just as fast in the pits as they sent him on after a 7.65 second stop. He went from 10th to eighth by the time the stops cycled out.

Hawksworth"s stop was not quite as efficient and on exit, he got stuck behind a rookie who wasn’t working as well. However, the used red tires he took on didn’t work quite as well either. The next stint on blacks was not much better but Hawksworth soldiered on.

Unfortunately, a miscalculation on the pit speed limiters cost both Sato and Hawksworth dearly. Hawksworth was the first driver to get a drive-through penalty for being too fast on pit lane on his lap 24 pit stop for black tires. The following lap Sato was cited for the same infraction, and given his 7.23 second stop, it was particularly gutting. He went from seventh to 18th.

By the time the next cycle of pits stops rolled around, Sato had climbed back to 13th. Paying attention to the pit lane speed, Sato was livid when the call came over the radio that he had incurred another drive through penalty. The team is working with the Honda engineers to understand what caused the problem with the pit speed limiter. That penalty ended his chances for a top 10 finish. In fact, race strategist Larry Foyt radioed to him to “just bring it home.”

“It was great work from the team considering we couldn’t come to the test,” said Sato afterwards. “We caught up to the others in the practice sessions but then we had a disappointing qualifying run. However, I was quite happy to show our car’s true performance in the race. In the first half of the race I was able to overtake several cars and we got up to P-8. Unfortunately we had an issue with a pit speed limiter and we caught a pit lane speed penalty twice and that is why the result is not a true reflection of our performance. The ABC guys had awesome pit stops—they were brilliant! We’re really close, so we’ll just keep on working hard.”

Qualifying Report: Kohler Grand Prix

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. June 25, 2016 – Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth will start deep in the field for the Kohler Grand Prix at Road America but the track has enough passing zones that the drivers can make it to the front. The narrowness of the track will make it a challenging task nonetheless.

Sato posted a lap time of 1 minute, 43.5357 seconds which was eighth fastest in the first qualifying group of 11 so he did not advance out of the first round. He will start 15th in the 22-car field.

“After the practice session we were looking positive for qualifying but we didn’t have enough speed to go through it,” Sato said afterwards. “It looks like we had the heavier side of downforce which was good for the cornering and braking but it was too draggy down the straight which is where we were losing time.”

Jack Hawksworth had two situations develop in his round one of qualifying. While on his quick lap on the black tires, he was blocked by Charlie Kimball in Turn 12 of the 14-turn track so that ruined his lap. When he was on the faster red alternate tires, he got bit by an untimely red flag caused by Josef Newgarden’s off-track excursion, so he never got to lay down his hot lap. His time of 1 minute, 45.5110 seconds will put him 18th, outside of row nine.

“The ABC Supply car felt ok but I got blocked by Charlie Kimball when I was on my hot lap on the black tires and so we came in for the reds. I made a mistake on my first lap on the reds so I just chose to save my tires and push on the second lap. The car felt pretty good but that’s when the red flag came out [for Newgarden] and I never got to put a lap in, so feeling pretty gutted. That’s the way it goes I guess.”

Will Power won the pole position with a time of 1 minute, 42.2105 seconds. Scott Dixon, his teammate Tony Kanaan, Simon Pagenaud, Helio Castroneves and Graham Rahal rounded out the Firestone Fast 6.

The Kohler Grand Prix will be televised tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.

 

Practice Report: Kohler Grand Prix at Road America

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. June 24, 2016—The Verizon IndyCar Series officially returned to Road America today and the fans came out in droves to welcome them.  Race fans could be seen throughout the beautiful four-mile long road course and the day looked more like a race day than just a practice day.

The ABC Supply team got in lots of practice with both cars which was good since they had missed out on a test day earlier in the month. Takuma Sato was 18th in the first session and 11th quickest in the second one with a lap time of 1 minute, 43.8702 seconds (139.120mph), which was 13th fastest overall for the day. He likes his car but is still searching for the ultimate qualifying setup.

“It’s great to be coming back to Road America,” Sato said. “It’s a favorite of everyone’s and the fans have waited so long for this. Look it’s Friday and it’s already like race day as a lot of crowds have come out which is fantastic. Great weather today, a great circuit which is a classic type—very narrow and very fast—and it feels really good. We had to go through quite a few items since we couldn’t make the test here so this was our first run with the 2016 package and we had a lot of things to do. Busy test day and I think we were reasonably okay but we still need to work really hard to get the speed out of the ABC Supply car for tomorrow’s qualifying.”

Jack Hawksworth was pleased with his No. 41 ABC Supply Honda and believes the car just needs some fine-tuning before tomorrow’s qualifying session. Hawksworth was third quickest in the first session with a time of 1 minute, 43.6747 seconds (139.382mph) which was fifth quickest overall for the day. In the second session, he was 16th quick with a time of 1 minute, 43.9679 seconds.

“Today was quite a good day actually,” Hawksworth said. “We did quite a lot of stuff – experimenting with things between this morning and this afternoon. I think we found a pretty competitive car so hopefully we’ll sit down tonight and fine-tune everything. The only question mark for me is the red tire, what’s going to happen when we put that on in qualifying.  We’ve seen this year that we can be uncompetitive on the blacks but we put reds on and we become competitive and vice versa so hopefully we can get that right. It will require a bit of luck as well because nobody’s run the reds here but we’ll do our best with that as well. Black tire-wise, I’m pretty happy with it, the ABC Supply car’s in the ballpark. We tested a lot of stuff and had quite a clean day which is nice. It’s good to run for a day and when we can run clean, we can have a good day.”

Graham Rahal set quick time in the second session with his timed lap of 1 minute, 43.0224 seconds (140.265mph). Second through fifth overall were Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Carlos Munoz and Hawksworth.

There is a 45-minute practice in the morning before qualifying which starts at 4:00 p.m. ET. It will be broadcast on a tape-delayed basis starting at 5:30 p.m. ET.

Foyts compete in Indy Legends Charity Vintage Pro/Am race

INDIANAPOLIS -- A.J. Foyt IV and Larry Foyt competed in the Indy Legends Charity Vintage Pro/Am Race which was the headliner of the SVRA Brickyard Invitational at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last Saturday, (June 18th).

Foyt IV finished on the podium with a third place finish in class driving the 1967 Z-28 Camaro owned by his amateur co-driver Charles Bentley. Paul Tracy and Davey Hamilton along with their co-drivers finished first and second in the same class.

“I had an absolute blast the entire weekend with my family at IMS for the SVRA pro am,” said Foyt IV. “The owner of my car Chuck was a heck of a guy and a skilled driver on the track as well. He has a very fast car and I could tell that he wanted to win or at least get on the podium. It was awesome to see Chuck’s excitement about the finish so that made my weekend.”

Larry Foyt finished fifth in class in the 1969 Chevy Corvette roadster with co-driver Kirk Blaha.

“I had a wonderful time hanging out at the SVRA event and driving a beautiful 1969 corvette with Kirk and Rick Blaha,” said Foyt, who is currently president of A.J. Foyt Enterprises. “They were very welcoming and helpful and the car was prepared flawlessly by the PR Motorsports team. Being at the event took me back to being a kid around the speedway enjoying a stress free time with racers and friends.”

The progeny of A.J. Foyt enjoyed the busman’s holiday which featured mostly drivers who competed in the Indianapolis 500 paired with an amateur driver. Interestingly, 12 of the pro drivers in the 34-car field drove for Foyt at some point in their careers.

The 40-minute competition was comprised of American muscle cars which raced on the Speedway’s 2.43-mile Grand Prix road course. The cars were 1963 to 1972 vintage Corvettes, Camaros and Mustangs of the “Group 6” SVRA class.