Sato: IndyCar, not F1, the only focus

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Takuma Sato is the man of the moment, on-track, in IndyCar. And as such, any door for a Formula One comeback is all but certainly closed for him.

Sato reflected Tuesday on his years in F1 when asked whether there was any “unfinished business” for him there. Despite being close to several deals when the Super Aguri team folded in 2008, there were no further starts for him after that happened.

“It was a really sad moment for everyone, for the sport and for the team and for the members, but it was an unfinished job in F1 for me. So I tried to come back in F1 for nearly two seasons,” said Sato.

“I had a huge opportunity with the Toro Rosso team, but unfortunately at the end of the day for some reason that didn’t happen; that was a really shocking moment. Then after that, as well, I had a little opportunity but it just didn’t happen.”

Sato came to IndyCar in 2010, first with Jimmy Vasser’s team, and hasn’t looked back.

“Formula One isn’t the only racing,” he said. “I had a great opportunity to come here with Jimmy. And since then, my focus is 100 percent in Indy.

“And my first focus is to win races here, win the ‘500’ and win the championship. It’s all sort of growing up, and now a lot of momentum and a lot of – how can I say – it’s the target that I want to do.”

Josef Newgarden wins pole for Grand Prix of Alabama

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With time running off the clock, Josef Newgarden lapped Barber Motorsports Park with a speed of 122.773 mph to win his third career pole and first on this track in the Grand Prix of Alabama.

Newgarden was .0128 seconds faster than teammate Scott Dixon in second.

Newgarden has two previous wins at Barber. He won last year’s edition of this race after starting seventh and in 2015 from fifth.

“I didn’t know if that was going to be enough,” Newgarden said after winning the pole.

“Team Chevy has done a good job,” Newgarden said. “They’ve really given us good power this weekend – good driveability. We’re going to need some fuel mileage tomorrow, which I think we’ll have. But it’s going to get mixed up with the rain.”

Dixon’s lap of 122.750 mph was not quite enough.

“I’m sure you could pick out a number of different things on a lap when it’s that close,” Power said about what made the slight difference between him and Newgarden. “A little mistake out of 9; a little lift here or there.”

Sebastien Bourdais (122.605 mph) qualified third, with Ryan Hunter-Reay (122.159) and James Hinchliffe (121.859) rounding out the top five.

Scott Dixon was the last driver in the top six.

Fast 12

Newgarden topped this chart with a speed of 123.475 mph.

He brought Power, James Hinchcliffe, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Sebastien Bourdais along with him to the Fast 6.

Marco Andretti (122.480), Alexander Rossi (122.216), Simon Pagenaud (122.050), Robert Wickens (122.042), Zach Veach (121.784) and Ed Jones (120.984) failed to advance.

Round 1, Group 1

Newgarden posted the fastest single lap in round one, group one of qualification for the Grand Prix of Alabama with a speed of 122.550 mph.

Hunter-Reay, Hinchcliffe, Wickens, and Andretti also advance to the fast 12.

Taking the final slot was Jones with a speed of 119.835 mph after an off-course excursion in final practice.

This was Andretti’s first advancement to the fast 12 for the first time since 2014.

Round 1, Group 2

Power had the fastest lap of 121.570 mph.

Bourdais, Veach (who is battling food poisoning-like symptoms), Rossi, and Pagenaud grabbed positions 2-4.

Scott Dixon had an uncharacteristically slow lap of 121.006, but managed to advance to the fast 12 when the session was red-flagged for an incident involving Tony Kanaan.

With three minutes remaining, Kanaan spun into the tire barriers while leaving pit road. Since he brought out the red flag, he lost his qualification time of 119.996 mph.

Takuma Sato had slipped off-course midway through the session and posted only the Ninth-fastest speed of 120.789 mph.