Takuma Sato Qualifies Eighth for Pocono INDYCAR 400 But Will Start 7th

LONG POND, Pa. July 6, 2013—Takuma Sato wheeled the ABC Supply Honda to another top-10 qualifying spot, his fifth of the season. Sato qualified eighth for the Pocono INDYCAR 400 as the IZOD IndyCar Series returns to the 2.5 mile tri-oval for the first time since August, 1989.

Posting a two-lap average speed of 219.124 mph, Sato will start seventh in the 160-lap race because seventh-place qualifier Scott Dixon incurred a 10-spot grid penalty for an unapproved engine change.

“Very satisfied with what we achieved,” said Sato. “There was almost nothing left so the engineers and boys did a great job to put it all together considering we only had one qualifying sim [simulation] in practice and a relatively short preparation time for the new track.  I enjoyed the lap, it was a very busy lap because here turn 1 and turn 3 are so different in the balance you get, so you use the tools [in the cockpit] to the maximum. So you get a lot of great feeling when you’re done. I’m really looking forward to the race.”

With the 24 cars starting three-abreast for this race, Sato will start on the inside of the third row. Pennsyllvania native Marco Andretti won the pole with an average speed of 221.273 mph. He was joined on the front row by his teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe. Fourth through sixth were Will Power, Tony Kanaan, and Helio Castroneves.

The three abreast start is a hallmark of the resurrected “Triple Crown” competition which was held in the 1970s and ‘80s. Back then it was comprised of the three 500-mile races at Indianapolis, Pocono and Michigan, all tracks at least two miles in length.

This year’s Triple Crown Series features the Indianapolis 500, the Pocono INDYCAR 400 and the season finale at California Speedway, also a 400-miler. Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan has the only chance of winning the Triple Crown—and the $1 million bonus that goes to the driver who wins all three races.

One very interested spectator to Sunday’s race will be A.J. Foyt who is recovering at home after undergoing hip replacement surgery on his left hip July1st. Foyt will be watching the live broadcast starting at noon ET on ABC-TV.