Track Report: May 23

INDIANAPOLIS May 23, 2016 --The last practice prior to Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway proved eventful yet productive at times for the 14, 35, and 41 teams of A.J. Foyt Racing.

After a satisfactory qualification day for the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda, Takuma Sato reported he was able to test out his car in traffic for the first time today, and feels confident looking ahead to this weekend’s race. He logged 85 laps and posted a speed of 224.6mph which was 16th fastest.

“I think it was a productive day,” said Sato. “I was able to learn about the car in traffic finally for the first time because we never had the opportunity to run in traffic on practice days because we had so much going on. We tried a few test items, some worked pretty good, some didn’t so I think we found a good baseline for the race. We’ll go through the data over the next couple days because we still need to try a few things on Carb Day, but I think we are in a good position now.”

The No. 35 Alfe Heat Treating crew worked extremely hard to ready Alex Tagliani’s backup car for Sunday’s 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 after yesterday’s qualification accident, and was able to get the car back on track prior to the end of today’s practice. With Friday’s Carb Day, Tagliani hopes to really test the car and make necessary adjustments in preparation for this weekend’s race.

“We made a few runs today, with big thanks to the crew for working hard to put the car back on track,” Tagliani said. “I’m sure it was a lot of work for them. I guess our Carb Day will become very important to us, and hopefully we have a good race.”

Unfortunately for Jack Hawksworth, driver of the No. 41 ABC Supply Honda, his woes for this year’s race continued during practice, losing the engine to failure late in today’s session. He logged 39 laps and posted a top speed of 223.1mph.

“We’ve had our fair share of setbacks these past two weeks,” said Hawksworth. “This is the cherry on top of the cake. We’ll obviously have to change the engine. I was pretty happy with the car today. Now we need to get miles on the new engine on Carb Day. That’s important to break it in before Sunday. Then we reset and go to the Indy 500.”

The cars of A.J. Foyt Racing return to the Brickyard Friday, May 27 for Carb Day, with final IndyCar practice from 11:00am to 12:00pm ET. Additionally, the teams will participate in the Tag Heuer Pit Stop Competition beginning at 1:30pm ET. Action from the track can be seen on NBCSN from 11:00am to 3:30pm ET.

Qualifying Report – Indianapolis 500

INDIANAPOLIS May 22, 2016—In the final qualifying round for the Indianapolis 500, the AJ Foyt Racing team experienced the highs and lows of Indy.

Takuma Sato put it on “the front row” of the 24 qualifiers outside of the Fast Nine to start 12th on the outside of row four in the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda. He posted a four-lap average speed of 228.029mph under tricky weather conditions which caught out his teammate Alex Tagliani.

“The 14 ABC Supply crew did a fantastic job after having had difficult days this week, and difficult qualifying runs for the sister cars,” said an exuberant Sato. “We were all nervous about it especially with the gusty winds. We performed very similar to what we had this morning in practice which was fantastic so the engineers and crew did a perfect job and gave me a fast car, a very fast car, so I was very happy.”

Sato remarked to his crew that it was the best car he had in qualifying here at the Speedway, and it was certainly his best qualifying performance at the Brickyard since he joined the Foyt team in 2013.

Tagliani was the first driver in the Foyt stable to make a qualifying run in the No. 35 Alfe Heat Treating Honda. Warm and windy conditions made for a challenging session for all of the drivers. Tagliani lost control going through Turn 4 coming for the green to start his first qualifying lap. The car did a quarter spin missing the outside wall but then it shot across the track and hit the attenuator structure at Pit In which sheared off the nose of the car. The car twirled like a top down the main straightaway before coming to rest against the pit wall. Tagliani emerged from the car uninjured.

“It’s probably the worst situation to be in because I really don’t like to see the guys work,” said “Tag” afterwards. “It’s such a long two weeks of work without any troubles so one problem takes a lot of energy to bring you back. The team thinks we’re going to have a stellar car, and we’ll surprise people. The race is what counts, we just have to forget about it [the accident]. Looking at the data and the video, I think we were on the edge and obviously the wind caught us off guard really late in the corner. That was lucky because the damage could have been a lot worse. Nevertheless, completing those four laps, I think we would have had two cars up there. We were going for it.”

The team is pulling out a backup car and is working to have it ready for a shakedown run in tomorrow afternoon’s practice. He will start in the final spot of the 33-car field.

Jack Hawksworth, who was the next driver to make a qualifying run after Tagliani, was not comfortable in his car in either the practice session or the qualifying session.

“The conditions were hotter than expected so the tires fell off,” said Hawksworth, who will start 31st in his No. 41 ABC Supply Honda. Hawksworth posted a four lap average speed of 224.596mph. “Like yesterday, we had consistent 225 mph speeds, but the rear tires fell off. I kept getting more loose throughout the run. The speed is still not there. We’re still struggling for outright speed. The tire degradation was the biggest problem and what made the cookie crumble."

As thrilled as he was for Sato, Team President Larry Foyt noted, “We had a tough day right out of the box with Tagliani having an accident, we’re just glad he’s okay. Jack wasn’t real happy with his run but it was really tough conditions. It was great to have those guys go out early and help us make some changes to the 14 car. Takuma did a super job, in fact the whole crew did to have a great run, and it’s a great place to start.  We can definitely win the race from there [12th].

“It did hurt the tub so we’ll go to a backup car for Tag,” Foyt added. “It’s a lot of work for the guys but the plan is to be out for race practice tomorrow to get a good shakedown run in.”

James Hinchcliffe won the Verizon P1 pole in the No. 5 Arrow Honda fielded by Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. It was his first career pole in the Verizon IndyCar Series and comes with a hefty check of $100,000. Hinchcliffe’s 230.760mph four lap average came at the track where he nearly lost his life a year ago after a crash in practice. The emotions ran high not only for “Hinch” and his team but for everyone in the paddock who knows the personable driver.

Josef Newgarden and 2014 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay join Hinchcliffe on the front row starting in second and third places respectively.

The 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 will be broadcast live on ABC-TV this Sunday starting at 11 a.m. ET with the pre-race show followed by the race telecast.

 

Day 1 Qualifying Report - Indianapolis 500

INDIANAPOLIS May 21, 2016—The first day of qualifying for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 normally would set the field of 33 cars but with just 33 entries in this year’s race, the focus shifted to determining who would be in in the Fast Nine shootout tomorrow afternoon.

Although the AJ Foyt Racing team will not be among the contenders for the Fast Nine session based on today’s results,  the team will use tomorrow’s 30-minute  practice sessions to determine if the setup on Takuma Sato’s No. 14 ABC Supply Honda will suit both Jack Hawksworth and Alex Tagliani.

In today’s provisional qualifying session, Sato ran a four-lap average speed of 228.096mph which put him 16th on the provisional grid of 33.

“I’m so pleased to be back here and have an opportunity to be in the 100th Running,” said Sato after his run. “Having said that, as my teammate Alex [Tagliani] probably explained to you, we’ve been struggling. To be honest, we had back and forth and difficult days, particularly this morning as we weren’t even able to run properly. There was a bit of discussion as to what we were going to do [in qualifying]. Obviously the weather change is really challenging for everyone but for us in particular, we found it really difficult. I was just so happy we put everything together for my qualifying laps. It wasn’t necessarily the happiest [run] but we put together a decent speed under the circumstance. Hopefully if there is an opportunity, we can go back out again in the afternoon.”

Sato did not get back out to make another run but the team will have a chance to practice before tomorrow’s final qualifying session.

Jack Hawksworth and Alex Tagliani struggled during their qualifying runs as they were not happy with their cars.

“The car wasn’t very fast,” said Hawksworth, who posted a four-lap average of 225.388mph in the No. 41 ABC Supply Honda which was the 28th quickest. “The car can definitely get faster. I think the 14 car had the right idea on set up. I think we could put what they had on theirs onto mine and see where it gets us. We’ve been on the back foot so far this week. We’ve struggled a little bit the past few days, but it seems Takuma found something, so we’ll sit down with him and figure out what he’s doing.”

Tagliani also had trouble during his run in which he posted a four-lap average speed of 224.507mph. The team made changes to his car with the thought that they would be able to get another run in.

“It’s disappointing to be where we are,” said Tagliani. “We’re going to try something now before the end of the day to give us a direction and hopefully tomorrow we’ll be able to salvage a better performance.”

Although Tagliani never did get back on track in the final and frenetic hour of qualifying, he will be able to evaluate the changes in tomorrow’s 30-minute practice session which precedes final qualifying. The practice sessions will be divided into three groups beginning with cars in positions 22-33, then 10-21 and finally the Fast Nine.

Qualifications begin at 2:45 in reverse order of where they qualified, so the 33rd car will go out first. Drivers in Group 1 (positions 10-33) will make one attempt, and the best they can shoot for is 10th.

Drivers in the Fast Nine are: James Hinchcliffe, who posted the fastest four-lap average speed today of 230.946mph. Second through ninth were: Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power, Helio Castroneves, Townsend Bell, Josef Newgarden, Mikhail Aleshin, Carlos Munoz, and Simon Pagenaud. The Fast Nine will each get one qualifying attempt in their run for the Verizon Pole Award from 5 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.

ESPN 3 will broadcast the first part of qualifying from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. Then ABC-TV will air the final two hours starting at 4 p.m.

 

 

 

Indy 500 Practice Report: May 20

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. May 20, 2016: Fast Friday proved challenging for the teams of A.J. Foyt Racing. Takuma Sato, in the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda, was able to find some gains in speed with the help of boost, in addition to valuable feedback, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Today with the higher boost, it bumped up the speed significantly so it was a different dynamic of the car balance. We tried a few things and got very valuable information today but we weren’t able to put everything together for the speed. We’ll analyze the data tonight and hopefully we’ll go faster tomorrow.”

Jack Hawksworth, in his No. 41 ABC Supply Honda, feels he is not quite where he would like to be with his entry into the Indianapolis 500, however is getting a feel for the direction he’d like to go. “We’ve got a bit of work to do still on the car. The car we have right now is doing a few different things in the corners. I think we found something in the right direction there at the end of the session. We certainly have some ideas for tomorrow so hopefully we can just calm the car down and get it to do just one thing in the corners.”

Alex Tagliani, in the No. 35 Alfe Heat Treating Honda, spent much of the day feeling out changes to the car ahead of tomorrow’s qualifications. Working with the crew in the garage to find a preferred setup, Tagliani feels the team is in a tough spot. “Obviously it was not a good day today for us. We really struggled to find the setup with car trim. We had a couple of tough moments on the track. Not something you really want to see, so we are in a really rough situation right now because we have to change the car and hit it right on the money for our first run tomorrow. It’s going to be difficult, but we’re going to put our heads down and figure something out."

The teams look ahead to tomorrow morning’s group and full field practice beginning at 8:00am ET. Qualifying will begin at 11 a.m. and end at 5:50 p.m., and it will lock in the Firestone Fast 9 which will compete for the Pole position on Sunday afternoon. Each car in the field will have to make another four-lap qualifying run on Sunday to establish their grid position for the race.

Tomorrow’s broadcast of qualifications runs from 11:00am to 3:00pm ET on ESPN3, switching to ABC from 4:00pm to 6:00pm ET.