NOTES & QUOTES: Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston
Takuma Sato and the ABC Supply team are in their first season together. Sato is making his first start at Reliant Park. Following his DNF at Baltimore (after starting 10th), he is 15th in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings.
Takuma Sato On:
• The Reliant Park circuit: “I was there for the media event in May but I wasn't really able to see what the Reliant Park circuit was like as it will only be constructed this week. The venue is massive and it had been a successful race track in the past, so I am sure it will be an impressive circuit.”
• Difficulty of first time venues: “I always enjoy finding out about new venues. Normally, I wouldn't have difficulty figuring out the new track, but preparation is always important. Race footage from the past can be quite useful but the track walk is the best way to learn. If it isn't available there, then the very first install lap will become an interesting one.”
• What he knows about Houston: “It was fun the night that I went downtown for dinner with Larry [Foyt] when I visited the race shop, a quite fancy place I thought. I've never been there before but only know Houston as NASA's Space Center. I will for sure find out more when I visit the city for the two media advance days this week.”
• On month long break: “I think after a long break, everyone hungers to get back racing but that doesn't mean it makes for more or less aggressiveness in my case. Since we had a very busy mid-season, a few weeks break is very refreshing and it gives me a nice feeling. I’m very motivated but I don't think there is much effect in terms of aggressiveness.”
• On 2013 Season: “It just shows how competitive the IndyCar series is. Some teams have been catching up very rapidly so we need to keep pushing and finding the competitiveness, but we also had a couple of unlucky moments.”
• On final three races: “Well we showed good speed at the last street race and had a productive test day at Fontana, so hopefully we won't have any more bad luck. I expect our team will be very competitive."
• On racing Super Formula at Sportsland SUGO in Japan this past weekend (Sato started eighth and finished 11th): “It is a pretty tough environment because it’s kind of a one race deal entering another series in the middle of the season, but I enjoyed racing in front of my home crowd in Super Formula at the SUGO track in Sendai. That is very close to the area of all the victims of the March 11, 2011 earthquake. I went to the devastated area once again and visited an elementary school there and had a great time with the students. We also invited many kids to SUGO through our ‘With you Japan’ activity and they had a great time there.”
• Welcome Back A.J.! Houstonian A.J. Foyt was named Grand Marshal of the Grand Prix which will be his first race back since the June 8 race at Texas Motor Speedway. Foyt spent the summer recovering from his left hip replacement surgery on July 1. Foyt will be presenting the A.J. Foyt Trophy – a resin cowboy boot featuring his autograph mounted on a marble base-- to the winners of both races. It’s no secret that he would like to keep it in the family!
A.J. Foyt racing in Houston: A.J. competed and won at local Houston tracks such as Playland Park, Arrowhead Speedway, North Houston Speedway and Meyer Speedway early in his career when he drove midgets and stock cars. The last time he raced in the Houston area was when he competed in the four midget races in the Houston Astrodome (1969-1972), winning in 1970.