Sato Was Sixth When Contact Ended His Bid for a Strong Finish in the Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Firestone 550 – Texas Motor Speedway
IZOD IndyCar Series
RACE NOTES/QUOTES — June 9, 2012



TAKUMA SATO, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “It was an exciting and quite challenging race. We made a solid start and made a few positions up and then we settled into the race and moved up one-by-one. Today we all ran less downforce so that it was very difficult to follow and you had to lift for every single corner which made it very challenging which was great. Then the pit stop was good and we gained more positions; the guys did a great job.  On the restart I made a good start and gained a few more positions and all seemed good. But then after the pit stop the car was quite nervous and at the exit of Turn 2 suddenly I lost the back end of the car and lost control and it was the end of the race.  It is a big shame, so disappointing. I think we showed good performance again so hopefully we have a strong finish in the next race.”

FAST FACTS: Earned his best starting position of the season of 10th but was assessed a 10-grid penalty for an unapproved engine change and started 20th. Had moved up 14 places to sixth when the rear of the race car lost traction and he made contact with the wall and retired in 22nd… His best oval finish of fifth place came at TMS last year (Race 1) after he started fourth. He drew the 25th starting position in Race 2 and finished 12th.  He started 11th and retired in 25th in 2010 after contact.  It will be his third race at TMS… His best oval qualifying is pole at Iowa Speedway in 2011 and his best finish is fifth in Race 1 at TMS in 2011… Is Sato’s first season at RLL and third in IndyCar and it appears to be the start of his best season to date in the series… Sato led three of six races this year – including 31 laps at the only other oval race this year – the Indy 500 — and nearly won the event. Has led 58 laps to date in 2012… In 34 starts in 2010-2011, has 17 career top-10 starting spots including four top-five starts and two poles (Edmonton and Iowa 2011). He has earned eight top-10 finishes including three top-five spots (fourth at Mid-Ohio, fifth at Texas and St. Petersburg in 2011).  Led a total of 61 laps from 2010-11.

TOM ANDERSON, Managing Director Motorsport Operations: “As a famous person in the Hall of Fame once told me, you are going to lose more races than you win. That’s one of the things that happened tonight. Its disappointing because we are running strong, we’ve got a good stretch of races here where we have been competitive. I’m really fortunate to be with a team running up front in an expansions season. I’m very proud of these guys for all the effort they are putting forward. The whole team is starting to come together. Pit stops are good and Takuma is starting to qualify well. It’s a learning curve. A simple problem tonight turned into a bigger one than we could rebound from. You learn from your mistakes. We’ll look more at what happened here after we look at the replay and the data downloaded from the car and learn from this one and we’ll be a stronger team when we get to Milwaukee next weekend. It’s a great part of the season. There are some exciting places to go and we’re looking forward to the other oval races to finish out the month of June.”

NEXT UP: Round 8 of 16 in the IZOD IndyCar Series season will be the Milwaukee IndyFest at the legendary Milwaukee Mile. Sato started fifth and finished 8th there in 2011 in his only race at the track. The team won THREE poles with Bobby Rahal (1992), Kenny Brack (2001) and Vitor Meira (2004) and TWO races with Brack (2001) and Michel Jourdain Jr. (2003).