Race Report: Iowa Corn Indy 250
DES MOINES June 23, 2013—Takuma Sato and the ABC Supply team had the ingredients for another strong finish as the team was quite competitive at Iowa Speedway this weekend.
However, it was not to be.
Sato qualified seventh for the Iowa Corn Indy 250 – marking the ABC Supply team’s best ever start at that track. However, he lined up 17th because he incurred a 10-spot grid penalty due to an unauthorized engine change before qualifying. He was running 16th when the first caution came out for debris on the track. Pitting on lap 40, the ABC Supply crew serviced him in 7.4 seconds. The crew’s quick work gained him three spots on the track – he was 13th when the race restarted. He made some great moves to gain two more positions and was 11th by the time he came around again.
However, as the race progressed, they came upon some slower cars and Sato got boxed in. He lost about four or five positions when he had to lift. Pitting under green on lap 111, the first sign of trouble occurred when he left the pit and nearly stalled because of an engine issue. As he circled the track at speed, the Honda engineers asked him to try different engine maps and fuel maps as they worked feverishly to isolate the problem.
When a yellow came out several laps later—after Sato had just gone a lap down—he stayed out in hopes of getting his lap back. On the restart, it was apparent that the problem was still there because he pulled out of the racing groove when the car wouldn’t accelerate properly. He eventually blended into the pack but he reported the engine was running flat. The telemetry prompted the Honda engineers to call him to the pits, and upon further inspection, they told the team it was terminal.
“We made some gains in the first stint as well as on the pit stop so we gradually moved up positions,” said Sato. “On the restarts I really had fun and gained some good spots so it looked like it was going to be quite an exciting race for the ABC Supply team because the car was working well. But then after that second pit stop I struggled with speed. We tried to figure it out by doing different engine maps and mixtures but it didn’t work. Finally we had to pull out. It’s very disappointing to be unable to finish the race.”
The DNF was costly to the team in the IZOD IndyCar Series point standings as they plummeted from fourth to eighth. The teams that were close to them in the standings had strong finishes including the race winner James Hinchcliffe, who became the only three-time winner this season.
Finishing second to Hinchcliffe was his teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay. He was followed by Tony Kanaan, Ed Carpenter and Graham Rahal.
Sato headed back to Tokyo this evening to visit with his family for the first time in two months. It will be a fairly short stay as he will be back in the States for the Open Test at Pocono Raceway on Thursday, July 4th. The Pocono Indy 400 will run the following Sunday, July 7th and will be broadcast live on ABC-TV starting at 12 noon ET. `