IndyCar Driver Review: Takuma Sato

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With the IndyCar season in the books and a limited amount of news to come since the season finale at Fontana, my MotorSportsTalk colleague Chris Estrada and are taking a look back at the 2013 season just past. Chris and I each ranked our top 10 drivers and some of the biggest stories; now we take a look back at the field driver-by-driver.

P17 was Long Beach winner, Takuma Sato…

2013 SEASON PREVIEW

Takuma Sato

  • Team: A.J. Foyt Enterprises
  • 2012: 14th Place, Best Finish 2nd, Best Start 3rd
  • 2013: 17th Place, 1 Win, 1 Pole, 2 Podiums, 2 Top-5, 4 Top-10, 187 Laps Led, 12.6 Avg. Start, 16.0 Avg. Finish

DiZinno says: The good, the bad and the ugly yet again for Sato in his fourth IndyCar season and third different team. The switch to Foyt brought out his best at the outset with the Long Beach win, the second at Brazil (even despite some questionable defending maneuvers), the near win at Milwaukee and the pole on the team’s home soil in Houston. He was probably Honda’s best shot the first half of the season before Ganassi and others got their act turned around. And then really from about Detroit on, it was “bad Taku” yet again, wreck after wreck after wreck that tested the team’s resolve, patience and budget. Sato finished only nine of 19 races this year and is likely, but not guaranteed, to return to Foyt’s squad next year.

Estrada says: Sato’s inaugural IndyCar win at Long Beach and runner-up at Sao Paulo had the A.J. Foyt Racing team atop the standings going into the Indy 500. And while he was unable to keep that lead, he still had a great first half. But after Milwaukee, things got real bad really fast for the ex-Formula One driver with nine DNFs in the final 10 races – a stretch that surely annoyed A.J. and his son/team manager, Larry. Even their pole-winning moment for Houston Race 1 went awry, with Sato going into the tires late before falling out a short time later with handling issues. A note: Sato’s competed in 68 races over the course of his IndyCar career, but has DNF’d in 29 of them (42.6 percent).

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.