TAKUMA SATO ON:
· 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.”
JACK HAWKSWORTH ON:
· 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.
ABC Supply national account Restoration Specialties, LLC will be featured on the engine cover of the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda. Guests will receive the VIP treatment this weekend along with a Meet and Greet with Takuma Sato.
ABC Supply roofing customer America Roofing, with offices in Phoenix, won the ‘Your Name Here’ contest for the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix. The company name will be atop the sidepods of the No. 41 ABC Supply Honda. Guests will receive the VIP treatment plus a Meet and Greet with Jack Hawksworth.
The Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix will be televised live on NBC Sports Network Saturday, April 2 starting at 8:00pm ET.
For more information on the ABC Supply/AJ Foyt Racing program, please check our web site: www.foytracing.com. To follow us on Twitter: @AJFoytRacing, @TakumaSatoRacer, @JackHawk41, @LarryFoyt14. On Facebook, we have the AJ Foyt Racing fan page.