Grand Prix of Baltimore (2013)

Race Report: Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT

BALTIMORE Sept. 1, 2013—It appeared that the Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT was going to be the race where Takuma Sato and the ABC Supply team turned around their season.

Sato had qualified in the top 10 in the No. 14 ABC Supply car for the team’s best starting position since early July. In today’s morning warm-up on the 12-turn, 2.04-mile circuit, he was in the top three until several other teams put on the faster red alternate tires. He slipped to eighth in the final three minutes, but he knew he had a good car for the race.

At the drop of the green, he was cautious, so he was able to capitalize on the traffic jam in Turn 3, and he snuck by on the outside to move from 10th to seventh in one corner! He was challenging for sixth a couple laps later when he reported he’d lost power and began dropping like a stone through the field.

He pitted and the ABC Supply crew popped off the engine cover to check a few things, and the engine technicians huddled around the computers, to try to determine the problem. Unfortunately they figured out it was terminal and that the problem couldn’t be fixed.

"We had a promising warm-up this morning after changing the car overnight – it was very positive and we were really looking forward to the race,” said Sato after climbing from his car. “We made a good start and everything was under control, but only a few laps into the race I had a sudden loss of power and it couldn't be fixed so we had to retire. The ABC boys worked well putting everything together for the race so it's really disappointing to end like this... a big disappointment for everyone."

Qualifying Report – Grand Prix of Baltimore

BALTIMORE Aug. 31, 2013—Takuma Sato will start 10th in the Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT; it is his best start in the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda since qualifying seventh at Pocono in July.

Had there not been a red flag with just two minutes to go when Sato was about to put down his best lap of the day, he might have made it into the Firestone Fast Six. As it was, Sato’s quick lap in the first round of qualifying (93.741 mph) was the third quickest lap overall in all of the qualifying sessions which bodes well for the race.

"We had a difficult morning session but we made a good recovery in qualifying,” Sato said. “The ABC car is working well, it's a shame our second segment was stopped by a red flag just as we were going for our best lap. In the end, finishing in the top 10 is not too bad. Hopefully we'll find more performance in the morning practice and have a good race tomorrow."

Practice Report – Grand Prix of Baltimore

BALTIMORE Aug. 30, 2013—Takuma Sato and the ABC Supply team cracked the top-10 in practice today as the IZOD IndyCar Series returned to Baltimore’s picturesque Inner Harbor for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Baltimore.

Sato was eighth overall after the two 45-minute practice sessions. His quickest lap on the 2.04-mile, 12-turn street circuit was 1 minute, 20.093 seconds, just half a second behind the quick time set by rookie Tristan Vautier (1 minute, 19.479 seconds).

“It’s nice to be back in Baltimore, I always enjoy driving here,” Sato said. “It’s a good street course, tricky and challenging, and there are a lot of fans around here too. I think the day went quite smoothly for us even though the practice sessions were interrupted by several red flags. While we couldn’t complete all the test items that we wanted to go through, at least the car is in the ballpark and it’s now just a matter of fine-tuning everything.  We feel positive about today.”

Sato and the other 23 drivers will have another 45-minute session tomorrow morning before qualifying starts at 12 noon. Highlights from qualifying will be shown Saturday evening at 6 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network.

The Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT will be shown live Sunday afternoon starting at 2 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network.

NOTES & QUOTES: Grand Prix of Baltimore Presented by SRT

Takuma Sato and the ABC Supply team are in their first season together. Sato is making his third start on the streets of Baltimore. Following his 23rd place finish (after starting 13th) at Sonoma Raceway last weekend, he is still 13th in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings. The team will also be in No. 13 pit box.

Takuma Sato On:

The Baltimore circuit: “There’s a nice balance of high-speed and low-speed corners and I enjoy driving here every time. Some parts are quite smooth but the rest is fairly bumpy. You need a strong braking stability, good traction and must be able to reduce the understeer as it's a typical street course. There is one very unique chicane before crossing a railway; the design of that chicane has changed every year but it looks like we will have the one similar to 2011 with high curbs so we need to be able to go fast through there too. The new surface has a lot of grip and even the old part has some good grip, so it's quite a busy and physical track. There are several places to pass but Turn 1 and Turn 3 are probably the two most popular places. Baltimore draws a great crowd and the fans are very enthusiastic too. It should be an exciting race—it usually is.”

How to get the monkey off his back: “Drive fast! :-) I think we just need to continue to work on everything. Make the car fast and try to have a strong weekend. Really looking forward to the weekend at Baltimore so we shouldn't have any more monkeys there.”

What he likes about Baltimore: “With the track being right in the middle of downtown, there is lots of activity going on. There are many good restaurants around the harbor and there is great attendance on the race weekend. Hopefully all of the fans enjoy the city too.

Past performance: The stats don’t tell the story in Sato’s case so he explained them:

o “In 2011 (started 26th, finished 18th), I was 3rd quickest in my first qualifying segment but had a drivetrain issue during the run and stopped on the course, which meant my two best laps were taken away since I caused the yellow. That ended my qualifying session. The race was an exciting one, in that I moved up as high as 6th place but I brushed the wall near the very end and I had to stop two laps later.”

o “In 2012 (started 24th, finished 21st), I was in even better shape because I was 4th quickest in the final practice session. I really looked forward to qualifying, but there was a very early red flag in my group. I couldn't even set the time properly --I was on my warm up lap on the new tires. Plus I had an engine change penalty anyway. Nevertheless, the rain during the race helped me to move up and I was leading the race, but a fuel pump problem ended my day… a big shame.”

o The Foyt team stats: in 2011, started 12th and finished 9th with Vitor Meira; in 2012, Mike Conway qualified 2nd but started 12th due to engine penalty; he was challenging for sixth (after coming back from an early race punt by Helio Castroneves) in the closing laps when his race ended in the tire barrier on Conway Street! He was credited with 16th.

ABC Supply will host over 800 guests this weekend. 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 50,000 people at IZOD IndyCar Series events.