Race Report: INDYCAR Grand Prix at the Glen
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. Sept. 4, 2016—Takuma Sato’s philosophy of “No attack, no chance” did not serve him well at the end of the INDYCAR Grand Prix at the Glen at Watkins Glen International .
Starting 20th in the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda, Sato was never higher than 15th until race strategist Larry Foyt and his team made the bold call to stay out during the caution period on laps 39-41. He vaulted from 15th to second. When the race restarted, he set his sights on leader Carlos Munoz, but could not complete the pass. He went off track and lost four spots, coming back out in sixth spot.
As fuel strategies came to the forefront in the last third of the race, Sato had moved up to fifth when Foyt pitted him with 12 laps remaining. Sato went from fifth to 16th but was able to push hard as the rest of the field was saving fuel to make it to the end of the 60-lap race. He carved his way through the field to eighth with less than two laps to go. Setting up Simon Pagenaud, who was running seventh, Sato took a wide entry into Turn 7 to position himself to pass Pagenaud in Turn 8.
Unfortunately, he miscalculated the entry, lost traction in the marbles and spun, much to the dismay of his ABC Supply team as he was on point to finish in the top six and possibly the top five. When he was able to gather up the car, he’d slid back to 18th. He gained one position on the final lap and finished 17th when James Hinchcliffe, who was second, ran out of fuel.
“Quite an eventful and exciting race,” the dejected driver said. “The yellows made us decide on a good strategy. At one stage it was a mixed strategy but the team made a good call on the last one. We had a couple good battles, and in the end, we were able to charge when everyone else had to save fuel. We attacked our way through the field. With two laps to go, I tried to set up Pagenaud and I approached the turn wider than usual to make a good exit but I got in the marbles and lost grip in Turn 7. I lost it and screwed up—I have no words for that. I feel really sorry for the sponsors and the mechanics. It could have been a strong result but I couldn’t put it together.”
Jack Hawksworth, who started ninth in the No. 41 ABC Supply Honda, gained two spots by the completion of lap one but lost three the next lap while trying to pass rookie R.C. Enerson. Hawksworth was running 11th on lap 9 when he pitted for fuel pursuing an alternate fuel strategy like his teammate Sato. Hawksworth dropped to 20th. When the cautions came out on laps 15-17 (for Mikhail Aleshin’s spin) and again on laps 20-22 (for contact between Charlie Kimball and Graham Rahal), Hawksworth was again 11th.
Pitting at nearly the halfway mark, the lanky British driver dropped back to 16th and then 17th as he began saving fuel in earnest. He pitted again when nearly the entire field pitted on lap 41. Hawksworth came out in 16th but was saving fuel so he didn’t have to pit for a splash of fuel at the end. He placed 15th.
“The car was really good and I was very happy with the car the whole race especially with the black tires,” Hawksworth said. “I wish I could have done Takuma’s strategy and pushed. That would have been a lot of fun. The guys did a nice job with the car – it was fast all weekend. I made a mistake on the second lap and lost a couple positions and then we had some issues with the stops. A shame about the result, nothing really worked out.”
Pole winner Scott Dixon won the race in a dominant fashion –leading 50 of the 60 laps. Second through fifth were: Josef Newgarden, Helio Castroneves, Conor Daly and Sebastien Bourdais.
The ABC Supply team will be testing at Sonoma Raceway this Thursday along with most of the other IndyCar teams as they prepare for their final race of the season on September 18th. The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma will be broadcast live by NBC Sports Network starting at 6:30 p.m. ET.