Takuma Sato has not perhaps gotten the credit he’s deserved for his fast start to the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season with A.J. Foyt Racing.
With a front row start in St. Petersburg and what would have been a second straight Firestone Fast Six appearance in Barber, before a penalty for blocking, Sato’s been one of the quickest drivers to start the year.
There’s still more room for improvement, though, he admits.
“We’re all pushing the max all the time,” he said Thursday. “It’s good the field is so competitive. The team is finding extra bits, and going to the limit. It shows we are really pushing each other.”
On paper, the combination of the legendary Texan owner and the diminutive veteran Japanese driver seems the “odd couple,” but Sato and team have gelled well.
“We have had good integration from the first test at Sebring, which was very successful,” Sato said. “We built our relationship. It’s been very smooth at St. Pete. After then we knew what to do better, because the speed was there.”
A year ago in Long Beach, Sato was on course for his first career podium in IndyCar before contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay on the final lap. With a good street course package, Sato looks to complete the deal this weekend.
“It’s just faster now, and we like it,” Sato said of Firestone’s 2013 tire compounds. “There is some little construction change, and a balance shift we have to accommodate. We find good pace on them and still looking for extra pace from tests. We just need to make sure there is no bad luck happening and compete really well!”
The NTT IndyCar Series will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the third time this season but with a weekend schedule that will put the action in front of fans for the first time in 2020.
The track’s 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course will play host to IndyCar and sports cars series over four days. The action will begin Thursday with practice and concluding with an eight-hour race Sunday featuring the Intercontinental GT Challenge and GT World Challenge America.
The NTT IndyCar Series will hold a Friday-Saturday race doubleheader called the Harvest GP presented by GMR.
ENTRY LISTS: Who’s racing IndyCar at IMS this weekend
The name is a nod to the Harvest Classic, which was held Sept. 9, 1916 to help the track stay solvent during World War I. The event had three races of 20, 50 and 100 miles (all won by Johnny Aitken) that was the only racing held outside May at IMS from 1911-93.
A limited crowd of 10,000 will be allowed each day this weekend, and those fans will be the first to experience new video boards, concession stands, restrooms and 5G wireless connectivity.
Here’s the IndyCar weekend schedule for Indianapolis Motor Speedway Harvest GP:
(All times are Eastern)
IndyCar weekend schedule: Thursday, Oct. 1
Noon — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America test session
2:25 p.m. — IndyCar practice (NBC Sports Gold)
6:20 p.m. — IndyCar qualifying for Harvest GP, Race 1 (NBC Sports Gold)
IndyCar weekend schedule: Friday, Oct. 2
10:20 a.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America practice
1:40 p.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America practice
3:30 p.m. — IndyCar Harvest GP, Race 1 (USA Network, NBC Sports Gold)
IndyCar weekend schedule: Saturday, Oct. 3
10:20 a.m. — IndyCar qualifying for Harvest GP, Race 2 (NBC Sports Gold)
12:10 p.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America qualifying
2:30 p.m. — IndyCar Harvest GP, Race 2 (NBC, NBC Sports Gold)
5:30 p.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America pole shootout
IndyCar weekend schedule: Sunday, Oct. 4
10 a.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America race