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Driver Start Finish Rank
Sato 15 14 17th
Hawksworth 17 18 20th

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Notes & Quotes: Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix

Takuma Sato: No. 14 ABC Supply Honda
Jack Hawksworth: No. 41 ABC Supply Honda


The return of INDYCAR to Phoenix Int’l Raceway: “I’ve never been to Phoenix but I’ve seen some exciting races so it’s great to have this venue back in the series.”

His first impression of PIR: “Very fast! It’s well-known that this track is unique as it has different banking for each corner--very impressive. The track has such a high level of grip and the cornering speed is incredibly fast, so the sensation of turning into Turn 1 is quite amazing. I also felt we received such a warm welcome from the fans. They came to see us at the Open Test Day and they were very enthusiastic. I thought it was very nice atmosphere.”

The trickiest part of the track: “As it has different banking and different kinds of corners, there is a balance shift between them which makes car setup tricky to have it right for both ends of the track. Also I found it quite tricky to follow the cars and there are not many lines available, i.e. it’s pretty much a single racing line, so I think it will be very difficult to go two-wide and overtaking will be tough.”

The secret to getting around at PIR: “We must minimize the balance shift between the corners. Also, you will lose significant downforce when following a car but you cannot really choose different lines for finding clean air, so it’s crucial to have a good mechanical grip and be strong in traffic.”

Whether PIR is more physically or mentally demanding: “I think it’s both. It’s definitely one of the most physically demanding tracks as we pulled close to 5Gs and it was pretty tough over the long runs in testing. Because of that, it’s mentally demanding too. Also the line is very limited so you need to be focused a lot. It’s less than 20sec a lap, so there is no relax time at all for the whole race!”

Visiting PIR before test: “The test was my first time to Phoenix.”


The return of INDYCAR to Phoenix Int’l Raceway: “From what I understand, it is a circuit that has a huge open wheel history and has produced some great races in the past. It's always good to visit tracks that are steeped in history as it gives the place a certain aura. Judging by the turnout at the pre-season test, we should get a good crowd and it seems like the fans are looking forward to INDYCAR’s return.

His first impression of the track: “Short and quick spring to mind, it kind of reminded me of a mini Pocono with the banked Turn 1 and the long duration flat Turn 3. It is good fun to drive but how it will race in terms of overtaking and passing opportunities is a question mark. Hopefully we put on a good show!”

The trickiest part of the track: “Turn 1 is the trickiest corner and also presents the best passing opportunity during the race. Look for most of the action to happen down at this end of the circuit.”

The secret to getting around PIR: “A good balance at both ends of the circuit and a predictable car in traffic. The lap is so short that there will be very little single car running during the race. Being quick in traffic will be critical.”

Whether PIR is more physically or mentally demanding: “Like most ovals, it is more mentally demanding than anything else. G-loads are quite high but the drivers can rest their heads on the pads inside the cockpit so physically this isn't an issue. Mental concentration will be critical though and staying alert and on top of the car for 250 laps with 22 cars out there will make a big difference.”

Visiting Phoenix before the test: “I tested at the Firebird road course during my year in Pro Mazda back in 2012 so I stayed in Phoenix then. I do like Arizona, the weather’s good and the dry heat is nice.”

A.J. Foyt will participate in the unveiling of the A.J. Foyt Trophy on Wednesday, March 30th at the Heard Museum in Phoenix. The perpetual trophy will be presented to the PIR race winner each year. A.J. Foyt won four races at PIR: 1964 (the inaugural race), 1965, 1971, and 1975; he won a pole in 1965.  He also won a race in 1960 at the Arizona State Fairgrounds, a one mile dirt track in Phoenix.

Team’s past performance at PIR (since 1996): The team’s best finish was second which is where they finished in 1996 with Scott Sharp and again in 2001 with Eliseo Salazar. Their best start was also second in 1998 with Billy Boat. Neither Takuma Sato nor Jack Hawksworth has raced at PIR.

Last race: In St. Petersburg, Takuma Sato started 10th and finished sixth while Jack Hawksworth started ninth and finished 11th, which is where they currently rank in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings.

ABC Supply Co. is in its 12th season as marketing partner of AJ Foyt Racing: ABC Supply began sponsoring the AJ Foyt Racing team with the 2005 Indianapolis 500, and is the second longest active team sponsor in the Verizon IndyCar Series. With this season, the company ties U.S. Tobacco’s Copenhagen brand in length of sponsorship of Foyt’s team.  ABC Supply has leveraged its involvement by sponsoring races at Milwaukee, and now at Pocono with the ABC Supply 500. The company has entertained over 75,000 associates and customers during the past 11 racing seasons. At Phoenix, the company will entertain 620 guests.


Qualifying Report: Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix

PHOENIX April 1—Jack Hawksworth will start 17th and Takuma Sato will start 21st in tomorrow evening’s Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix as the Verizon IndyCar Series returns to Phoenix International Raceway for the first time since 2005.

“It was no April Fool’s for us this morning, unfortunately, it was the real deal,” said team owner A.J. Foyt about the incident where Sato did a quarter spin and hit the Turn 2 SAFER barrier hard in practice. Sato is bruised but feels ready to run tonight’s final practice. However, his No. 14 ABC Supply Honda which sustained heavy right side and rear end damage, is looking doubtful despite the crew’s feverish efforts to repair it in time for the evening session.

“I feel okay,” Sato said after emerging from the infield care center. “It was quite a big impact and I have a little bit of a headache, but I’m good. It was a quick spin, I lost it simply with a little bit of oversteer. We were doing a run in qualifying trim; unfortunately we lost the back end and it caused pretty good damage, but hopefully we can come back.”

Hawksworth, whose morning practice was incident free, dealt with some gearing issues that limited his track time. He posted a two-lap average speed of 185.046 mph in his qualifying run in the No. 41 ABC Supply Honda.

"It was a tricky qualifying run,” Hawksworth said. “The car was a little bit loose. It's been a difficult day so far because we had some issues in practice and we didn't run very much. So we have to get our heads together and understand what happened in qualifying. We have to keep focused and keep digging and put on a good show for the ABC folks tomorrow night."

James Hinchcliffe also hit the SAFER barrier in nearly the same spot when the action resumed in practice after Sato’s incident. Hinchcliffe emerged unscathed. Neither driver was able to qualify so they will start in the final row. Carlos Munoz spun and hit the Turn 1 SAFER barrier during his qualifying run. Munoz was released from the infield care center.

Helio Castroneves won the pole by setting a new track record of 192.324mph. Second through fifth were Tony Kanaan, Juan Pablo Montoya, Charlie Kimball and Ed Carpenter. Teams will have a 30-minute practice session this evening. The race will be televised live tomorrow evening on the NBC Sports Network starting at 8 p.m. ET.


Race Report: Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix

PHOENIX April 2, 2016—Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth weathered a difficult weekend as the Verizon IndyCar Series returned to Phoenix International Raceway’s one mile oval for the first time since 2005.

Sato, who crashed hard in the beginning of Friday’s practice, sat out the rest of the day as the ABC Supply crew worked into the night repairing the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda which was heavily damaged in the accident. Sato wasn’t injured, but he was unable to qualify and also missed the final practice Friday evening.  He was given a five minute practice session Saturday afternoon so the team could check out the car at speed.

Starting 20th, Sato gained a couple of spots on restarts but for the most part, he found it difficult to pass cars because the track had just a single racing line. Through solid pit stops—and a bit of attrition, he finished 15th.

"It was a tough weekend for all of us” Sato said. “The ABC boys did a great job putting the car back together. We had just a couple hot laps before the race. They did a good job of keeping everything under control. In the race we were hanging on but it was a long tough night. It's a weekend we want to forget but it was still a good job by everyone on the team."

Hawksworth dropped back from his 17th place grid slot at the start but he ran a solid pace during his first fuel stint in the No. 41 ABC Supply Honda. A problem with the car’s handling in the second stint forced an early pit stop but the team was able to improve the car’s handling. Hawksworth wasn’t able to benefit from being on a different pit strategy in the race which was slowed by five caution periods; he soldiered home in 19th position.

"It was a very tough weekend,” Hawksworth said. “I didn't make a very good start but the car was ok in the first stint. We were able to hang in and run the pace even though we couldn't get close to the cars ahead so couldn't make up much ground. We had an issue in the second stint so we had to pit early. We tried to fight back but then we had an issue on the last stop. It was just a tough, tough weekend. We made the car better but we just have to put this one behind us and learn from it. We go to two circuits that we know we have a good car and we're strong at so we'll focus on Long Beach and Barber and be competitive there."

Defending IndyCar series champion Scott Dixon won the 250-lap race and was presented the A.J. Foyt Champions Trophy by Foyt himself in Victory Lane Saturday night. The track management named the perpetual trophy after Foyt who won the track’s inaugural race in 1964.

Second through fifth were Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, Tony Kanaan and Graham Rahal. The teams are heading to Indianapolis Motor Speedway April 6 for an open test before making the long haul to southern California for the Long Beach Grand Prix on April 17th.