ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 (2014)

Race Report: ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee Indyfest

MILWAUKEE Aug. 17, 2014—The stage was set at the Milwaukee Mile. Before an enthusiastic crowd, Skylar Stecker, the 12-year-old granddaughter of ABC Supply Chairman Diane Hendricks, sang a stirring rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. Soon after Hendricks, the race’s Grand Marshal, gave the command, “Drivers, start your engines!”  Honorary starter Keith Rozolis, ABC Supply President and CEO, waved the green flag to start the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee Indyfest.

As the field came down for the green, Takuma Sato’s race nearly ended before it started! Coming off turn four, the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda jumped sideways and Sato did a masterful job to save it from spinning in front of the second half of the field. However, he dropped from 10th to 19th in the process. He was not able to gain back any spots before his first pit stop on lap 58. Despite the crew’s 7.5-second pit stop, he went a lap down to the leaders—due in part to pole sitter Will Power’s blistering pace.

By the halfway point of the race, Sato was 18th. When the race’s only caution flag came out on lap 131 for Carlos Munoz’s tap of the turn 4 wall, Power didn’t pit, so Sato was not in position to get a wave around and get back on the lead lap. Sato pitted for fresh tires as did most of the field.

When the race got underway again, Sato, now 17th, began passing cars—as many as six on the track—but only one was for position because many of the cars were a lap ahead. In fact, he was fast enough to run consistently with Tony Kanaan who finished third. Sato gained another spot when Ryan Hunter-Reay dropped out with a mechanical problem. Sato placed 15th.

"Such a disappointing race,” Sato said afterwards. “At the start, I lost the back end, the rear stepped out [when he nearly spun out]. I lost positions and the track was so slippery in the beginning it was difficult to gain them back. After the middle stint, the car started working well and we had the pace. But we were a lap down so the cars I passed weren't for position. It was a tough race."

Qualifying Report: ABC Supply Wisconsin 250

MILWAUKEE August 16, 2014—Takuma Sato qualified 10th for the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at  Milwaukee Indyfest today which represents the best start for the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda since the Verizon IndyCar Series returned to the Milwaukee Mile in 2004.

"Milwaukee is always fun to drive and very challenging for the drivers,” said Sato. “It demands a lot because you're not able to go flat here unless the conditions are superb. Today we had warmer conditions so it's been really tricky in practice. We continued some of the test items we didn't get to in our June test and tried to improve the car. In qualifying we proved we made good progress--just not fast enough to go to the very front. We tried to get a consistent balance and I think we found that so that is good."

Sato posted a two-lap average speed of 166.915mph. Will Power won the Verizon P1 Pole Award with a blistering speed of 169.262mph. Chevrolet-powered cars grabbed seven of the top 10 spots on the grid. Second through fifth were Tony Kanaan, Juan Pablo Montoya, Ryan Briscoe and Josef Newgarden.

With well over 1,500 guests from ABC Supply in the grandstands tomorrow, Sato will have a strong cheering section as the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 gets underway tomorrow afternoon. The race broadcast on the NBC Sports Network begins at 3 p.m. ET, with the green flag set to wave at 3:50 p.m. ET.

NOTES & QUOTES: ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest

Takuma Sato and the ABC Supply team are in their second season together. Sato is making his fourth start at The Milwaukee Mile.

Takuma Sato On:

The Milwaukee Mile: “It’s one of my favorite places. This historical flat oval is so challenging and always is great fun to drive and race. There’s no banking support in the corner so it feels like you’re going into very fast corners at a road course rather than a typical oval track. It might not actually be a very fast track due to high downforce we have and the track’s flat corners but we feel so much speed in the cockpit because you need to use all of the track’s width.”

Best Passing Zone: “In normal conditions, it will be at the corner's entry like everywhere else. But because each straight is so short, you need to set the good position at the corner before you get there. It’s not easy to go two wide like other typical ovals due to no banking, but it’s possible and sometimes we even use brakes, so passing here is tricky but it’s a great feeling when you achieve it.”

Importance of qualifying: “Overtaking is not easy here so qualifying is important and you always want to start at the front. But at the end of the day, it’s still oval racing so you can recover your position when your car works well -- like we did last year.”

The added pressure since it’s the ‘ABC Supply’ 250: “That’s only positives! The pressure is always there as long as you go racing, so it’s fantastic that we have the extra support from ABC and hopefully we can have a great race day!”

Testing at Milwaukee in June: “We had to stay over to the next day due to rain but fortunately it was great weather then, so we had a very good test. It was so nice to go through many test items that we were eager to try and good to see we made great progress. We were strong last year there and of course there is no guarantee that we will be again, but at least the test showed a lot of positives. I expect we will be very competitive again.”