Grand Prix of Houston (2013)

Sato Relieved at Franchitti Escape

By Marcus Simmons/Autosport.com

Takuma Sato is relieved that multiple IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti escaped more serious injury in last Sunday's crash in Houston after visiting him in hospital.

Franchitti went airborne when he clipped the rear of Sato's AJ Foyt Racing car on the final lap, the debris also inflicting minor injuries on spectators and an IndyCar timing and scoring official.

"My biggest concern was Dario, the 13 spectators and the IndyCar official," said Sato, "and I hope they have a speedy recovery.

"On Sunday night I went to see Dario, and after his successful surgery on his ankle I saw him at 11 p.m.. We had a nice chat – he is such a strong guy and he was joking and smiling, obviously a little dizzy from the anesthetic, but we had a good conversation. We need him back in the cockpit soon."

Sato believes that damage from a brush with the wall caused his Dallara-Honda to get sideways in front of Franchitti's Ganassi car.

"It looked like it was going to be a very close finish with Simon Pagenaud [for sixth place], and I didn't know if I could gain a position but at least I wanted to try," said Sato. "As a result of that battle I put a wheel on the curb at Turn 8 [on the penultimate lap], the car bounced and I ran wide, I caught the marbles and brushed the wall on the exit.

 

Race Report: Shell Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston – Race 2

HOUSTON Oct. 6, 2013—Takuma Sato was headed for his first top-10 finish since mid-June when disaster struck on the final lap of Race 2 of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston at Reliant Park today.

Sato was running seventh in the ABC Supply Honda after working his way from last position on the grid (due to stalling the car on the initial standing start). On the last lap of the 90-lap race, he got into the marbles and brushed the wall. Busy trying to gather it up, several cars passed him. Then as he entered a long, blind right hander, the car became very loose—which may be attributed to a bent toe link on the left rear. Sato was nearly sideways as Franchitti came up to pass him. Franchitti’s car climbed over Sato’s and launched into the catch fence before landing back on the track. Sato was then tagged by E.J. Viso but fortunately both of them escaped injury.

Franchitti was transported to a local hospital where he underwent successful surgery to repair a fractured right ankle. He also sustained a concussion and a spinal fracture which won’t require surgery according to reports.

The debris from the accident flew beyond the protective catch fencing injured 13 spectators, two of whom were hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries. The others were treated at the track’s medical center and released.

Sato Wins Pole for Foyt, Has Trouble in Race 1 at Houston’s Reliant Park

HOUSTON Oct. 5, 2013—Takuma Sato and the ABC Supply team gave owner A.J. Foyt a warm welcome back by winning the pole for Race 1 of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston, and earning their first Verizon P1 Award of the season.

“Fantastic start to our day,” said Sato.  “It is great to put the number 14 back at the front.  We made really good progress yesterday and in this morning’s early 10 minute practice.  We adjusted very well for qualifying and you can see the result.  The ABC Supply Honda allowed me to really push on the limit and get the Pole Position.  It was great to be able to do it in the team’s home race.”

Sato edged out Scott Dixon for the pole with a qualifying speed of 97.305 mph in the second 12-minute segment of qualifying this morning at the 10-turn, 1.7-mile temporary circuit at Reliant Park. Will Power won the first qualifying segment but his speed was slower that Sato’s, so he started outside pole. Dixon started third and was followed by Sebastian Bourdais, Simon Pagenaud, and Simona DeSilvestro.

The normal Firestone Fast Six knockout qualifying sessions were not held this weekend. Each 12-car group was given 12 minutes (and guaranteed at least five minutes of green flag time) to set their quick time. Since Sato won the pole, everyone who was in his group lined up behind him (on the inside of each row) while Power’s group followed suit on the outside.

Practice Report: Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston

HOUSTON Oct. 4, 2013—"Tough, short circuit but it's fun,” said Takuma Sato of the 1.7-mile temporary circuit in the Reliant Park sports complex as the IndyCar Series returned to Houston for the first time since 2007.

Driving the ABC Supply Honda, Sato logged 26 laps today, many of which were interrupted by yellow and red flags as several drivers spun or hit the concrete barriers defining the circuit. At 89.195 mph, Sato was 14th quickest of the 24 cars on track today. Justin Wilson set the pace with a speed of 91.308 mph.

“The car is always cornering so it's very physical,” Sato said, adding, “The track is quite bumpy so we have to get maximum stability to attack. Today we made good progress because every time out it was a good step forward for the ABC car."

rack crews spent much of the morning creating temporary fixes for problems that became apparent with the track’s surface after the first set of practice sessions with some of the slower formula cars. There will be a 10-minute warmup at 9:45 a.m. Saturday for the Indy cars before qualifying for Race 1 of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston. Qualifying has been shortened to a 30-minute session starting at 10:50 a.m. The race broadcast will start at 3 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network.