Qualifying Report: Kohler Grand Prix

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. June 25, 2016 – Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth will start deep in the field for the Kohler Grand Prix at Road America but the track has enough passing zones that the drivers can make it to the front. The narrowness of the track will make it a challenging task nonetheless.

Sato posted a lap time of 1 minute, 43.5357 seconds which was eighth fastest in the first qualifying group of 11 so he did not advance out of the first round. He will start 15th in the 22-car field.

“After the practice session we were looking positive for qualifying but we didn’t have enough speed to go through it,” Sato said afterwards. “It looks like we had the heavier side of downforce which was good for the cornering and braking but it was too draggy down the straight which is where we were losing time.”

Jack Hawksworth had two situations develop in his round one of qualifying. While on his quick lap on the black tires, he was blocked by Charlie Kimball in Turn 12 of the 14-turn track so that ruined his lap. When he was on the faster red alternate tires, he got bit by an untimely red flag caused by Josef Newgarden’s off-track excursion, so he never got to lay down his hot lap. His time of 1 minute, 45.5110 seconds will put him 18th, outside of row nine.

“The ABC Supply car felt ok but I got blocked by Charlie Kimball when I was on my hot lap on the black tires and so we came in for the reds. I made a mistake on my first lap on the reds so I just chose to save my tires and push on the second lap. The car felt pretty good but that’s when the red flag came out [for Newgarden] and I never got to put a lap in, so feeling pretty gutted. That’s the way it goes I guess.”

Will Power won the pole position with a time of 1 minute, 42.2105 seconds. Scott Dixon, his teammate Tony Kanaan, Simon Pagenaud, Helio Castroneves and Graham Rahal rounded out the Firestone Fast 6.

The Kohler Grand Prix will be televised tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.

 

Practice Report: Kohler Grand Prix at Road America

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. June 24, 2016—The Verizon IndyCar Series officially returned to Road America today and the fans came out in droves to welcome them.  Race fans could be seen throughout the beautiful four-mile long road course and the day looked more like a race day than just a practice day.

The ABC Supply team got in lots of practice with both cars which was good since they had missed out on a test day earlier in the month. Takuma Sato was 18th in the first session and 11th quickest in the second one with a lap time of 1 minute, 43.8702 seconds (139.120mph), which was 13th fastest overall for the day. He likes his car but is still searching for the ultimate qualifying setup.

“It’s great to be coming back to Road America,” Sato said. “It’s a favorite of everyone’s and the fans have waited so long for this. Look it’s Friday and it’s already like race day as a lot of crowds have come out which is fantastic. Great weather today, a great circuit which is a classic type—very narrow and very fast—and it feels really good. We had to go through quite a few items since we couldn’t make the test here so this was our first run with the 2016 package and we had a lot of things to do. Busy test day and I think we were reasonably okay but we still need to work really hard to get the speed out of the ABC Supply car for tomorrow’s qualifying.”

Jack Hawksworth was pleased with his No. 41 ABC Supply Honda and believes the car just needs some fine-tuning before tomorrow’s qualifying session. Hawksworth was third quickest in the first session with a time of 1 minute, 43.6747 seconds (139.382mph) which was fifth quickest overall for the day. In the second session, he was 16th quick with a time of 1 minute, 43.9679 seconds.

“Today was quite a good day actually,” Hawksworth said. “We did quite a lot of stuff – experimenting with things between this morning and this afternoon. I think we found a pretty competitive car so hopefully we’ll sit down tonight and fine-tune everything. The only question mark for me is the red tire, what’s going to happen when we put that on in qualifying.  We’ve seen this year that we can be uncompetitive on the blacks but we put reds on and we become competitive and vice versa so hopefully we can get that right. It will require a bit of luck as well because nobody’s run the reds here but we’ll do our best with that as well. Black tire-wise, I’m pretty happy with it, the ABC Supply car’s in the ballpark. We tested a lot of stuff and had quite a clean day which is nice. It’s good to run for a day and when we can run clean, we can have a good day.”

Graham Rahal set quick time in the second session with his timed lap of 1 minute, 43.0224 seconds (140.265mph). Second through fifth overall were Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Carlos Munoz and Hawksworth.

There is a 45-minute practice in the morning before qualifying which starts at 4:00 p.m. ET. It will be broadcast on a tape-delayed basis starting at 5:30 p.m. ET.

Foyts compete in Indy Legends Charity Vintage Pro/Am race

INDIANAPOLIS -- A.J. Foyt IV and Larry Foyt competed in the Indy Legends Charity Vintage Pro/Am Race which was the headliner of the SVRA Brickyard Invitational at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last Saturday, (June 18th).

Foyt IV finished on the podium with a third place finish in class driving the 1967 Z-28 Camaro owned by his amateur co-driver Charles Bentley. Paul Tracy and Davey Hamilton along with their co-drivers finished first and second in the same class.

“I had an absolute blast the entire weekend with my family at IMS for the SVRA pro am,” said Foyt IV. “The owner of my car Chuck was a heck of a guy and a skilled driver on the track as well. He has a very fast car and I could tell that he wanted to win or at least get on the podium. It was awesome to see Chuck’s excitement about the finish so that made my weekend.”

Larry Foyt finished fifth in class in the 1969 Chevy Corvette roadster with co-driver Kirk Blaha.

“I had a wonderful time hanging out at the SVRA event and driving a beautiful 1969 corvette with Kirk and Rick Blaha,” said Foyt, who is currently president of A.J. Foyt Enterprises. “They were very welcoming and helpful and the car was prepared flawlessly by the PR Motorsports team. Being at the event took me back to being a kid around the speedway enjoying a stress free time with racers and friends.”

The progeny of A.J. Foyt enjoyed the busman’s holiday which featured mostly drivers who competed in the Indianapolis 500 paired with an amateur driver. Interestingly, 12 of the pro drivers in the 34-car field drove for Foyt at some point in their careers.

The 40-minute competition was comprised of American muscle cars which raced on the Speedway’s 2.43-mile Grand Prix road course. The cars were 1963 to 1972 vintage Corvettes, Camaros and Mustangs of the “Group 6” SVRA class.

Notes & Quotes: Kohler Grand Prix at Road America

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

Takuma Sato On:

His first impression of Road America: “Road America is very impressive and a great fun track as expected. I’ve heard so many positive stories about Road America since I joined the IndyCar Series, and I know everyone and as well as the fans wanted IndyCar to go back there. So it was a nice experience that we had a great crowd show up at the test day last fall, and I had a lot of fun driving this superb track.”

Whether RA resembles any tracks in Europe: “A little bit but not necessarily. If anything is similar, it is as fast as I experienced at possibly Imola [outside of Bologna, Italy]. Both tracks are the classic narrow type of track but very fast with good elevation change.”

Whether the new aero kit will make much difference vs. last year’s test: “I think it’s not hugely different but sure there is some. We learned a lot at the test but it was last year's car and there are quite a few things that have changed both mechanically and aerodynamically. Especially we need to learn how the low downforce package is going to work which we haven’t been able to try. We were going to go to the test after Texas race but preparation time for it became too tight as the race was delayed due to weather, so we will need to maximize our practice time on race weekend to ensure our set-up has made a good progress since the last test.”

The most challenging aspect of the circuit: “For the drivers, you need a lot of commitment because there are so many fast corners. From an engineering perspective, you need a good stable car through the high speed sections and performance under braking with such a low downforce car.’

The Road America bratwurst: “I know it’s famous in Wisconsin so I must try it!”

Jack Hawksworth On:

His first impression of Road America: “I love the Road America, it's very quick, has a variety of corners and is the only track we go to that is over four miles in length. I had a fantastic time racing there in 2014 made even better by the fact that I had a very quick car.” Note: Hawksworth, teamed with Chris Cumming, started 13th overall (2nd in the PC class) and finished 12th overall (4th in the PC class), driving the RSR Racing ORECA FLM09.

The difference driving the IndyCar vs the sports car he drove in 2014: “The Indycar has a lot more grip and downforce so certainly braking will be later and the corner speeds higher. It'll just be a case of adapting to the car and putting it on the limit. In terms of passing, it should in theory be easier as we have the push-to-pass system in Indycar racing.”

What he liked about the circuit: “Road America has a lot of character, and it is technical like other road courses yet it still allows for a lot of passing and action due to the length of some of the straights and the big braking zones.”

The most challenging aspect of this circuit: “There is nothing particular that stands out, it's all challenging in its own way. We will be starting on the back foot a little [note: the team didn’t test there as planned] but we have the people and ideas to make progress and hopefully be there by qualifying.”

Whether he has tried the Road America bratwurst: “Nope... It's swimsuit season!”

Neither Takuma Sato nor Jack Hawksworth has raced Indy cars at Road America: Sato tested his No. 14 ABC Supply Honda at the track last fall. Hawksworth did not test an Indy car at RA. However, he competed in a WEC race at the 4-mile circuit in 2014. Teamed with Chris Cumming, Hawksworth started 13th overall (2nd in the PC class) and finished 12th overall (4th in the PC class), driving the RSR Racing ORECA FLM09. The Foyt team’s plan to test on June 15th was thwarted by the one day rain delay at Texas Motor Speedway June 11-12. There wasn’t enough time to return to the Waller shop, turn the cars around for the road course and arrive on Tuesday in preparation for Wednesday’s test given the 1250-mile trip from Waller to Elkhart Lake.

A.J. Foyt returns to Road America after 21 years: Foyt’s last trip to Road America was in 1995 when his car was running in the CART IndyCar Series. In his team’s eight races there, the best start was eighth with Robby Gordon in 1993, and their best finish was eighth with Mike Groff in 1991. Foyt had the second best finish of 10th in 1988. He sustained severe injuries to his feet and legs in September, 1990 when the brakes failed on his Lola at the end of the front straight and he sailed into a dirt embankment. He spent the next eight months recovering but made it to his then 34th straight Indy 500.