Race Report: ABC Supply Wisconsin 250

MILWAUKEE July 12, 2015—Nearly 1900 guests of ABC Supply saw Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth demonstrate their tenacity in the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at the Milwaukee Mile today. Although their effort did not result in a top-10 finish, the team learned valuable information with regard to the new aerokit that will benefit them moving forward.

In a packed race day schedule, the noontime qualifying session under hot, sunny skies, proved challenging to many teams. Sato, one of the quickest in practice at the one mile oval, qualified a surprising 13th on the grid. Hawksworth, who had been struggling with his car’s handling in practice, started 21st.  By the second lap, Sato had fallen back to 18th and Hawksworth was 20th. By lap 30, they were 21st and 22nd as they soldiered on until the first round of pit stops.

When they pitted on lap 52, changes were made to both cars but they each lost a lap to the leaders. The No. 14 ABC Supply Honda’s handling improved, but Hawksworth’s No. 41 began losing power which the team eventually traced to a throttle pedal problem. By the time the problem was corrected after two pit stops and a trip behind the pit wall to work on the car, Hawksworth had lost 27 laps. At that point, the race had become a test session which they put to good use.

After Sato’s pit stop on lap 102, the car’s handling improved to the point where he was running with the leaders. When the yellow came out on lap 114 for James Jakes’ blown engine, Sato didn’t pit in hopes of getting a wave-around and getting his lap back. Unfortunately, leader Bourdais didn’t pit either so there was no hope of getting the lap back during that caution period. When he was running behind Bourdais through the middle stint of the race, both drivers pulled away from the field.

By lap 213 when Bourdais pitted for his final time, Sato got his lap back. When the yellow came out on lap 222 for Justin Wilson’s slowing car, Sato made his final pit stop.  After the race went green with 18 laps to go, Sato was only able to gain one spot; he finished 14th.

“It was a long tough race,” Sato said. “The first stint we were struggling so much so after the pit stop we went a lap down.  Tried to get lap back but it didn’t work the way we wanted and we had to really fight hard. At the end of the day we got back on the lead lap but there were less than 20 laps to go. With everyone on the same age tires, it was difficult to overtake. It was a tough day.”

Despite his seven pit stops due to his throttle troubles, Hawksworth placed 17th, albeit 28 laps in arrears.

“It was not a very good day,” Hawksworth said. “It’s never good when you start at the back at the Milwaukee Mile anyway because you lose track position easily. It was more so this year because it was very difficult to pass unless you were much faster than the car ahead. We’d just come in and did our first stop and then we had a problem with our throttle pedal. We tried to fix it and then the issue came back and we had to come in and fix it again. After that, we went back out and tried to stay out of everybody’s way and let those guys race. In the end we just did a bit of testing for ourselves which was interesting but not the day we wanted.”

Bourdais won the race, while Helio Castroneves finished second. Third through fifth were Graham Rahal, Juan Pablo Montoya and Josef Newgarden, who won the pole—the first of his career.

The next race will be the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway which will be broadcast live this Saturday (July 18th), starting at 8 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network.