One year later, Takuma Sato still smiles about Long Beach win (VIDEO)

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One year ago, Takuma Sato delivered a shock victory at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach that was not only his first in the Verizon IndyCar Series but also the first for his A.J. Foyt Racing team since the 2002 season.

As the series returns to the Beach this weekend, Sato still has fond memories of that great day.

“I remember every single second, right from the beginning of the start,” the ex-Formula One driver said recently. “It was just a beautiful day. Everything came together. We really – how can I say [it]? – controlled the race and controlled ourselves.

“The pit stops were great, and I avoided any risk or involvement that could’ve been an accident or anything. But at the same time, I attacked…This time, it all came together and it was beautiful.”

Sato won the pole for the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg two weeks ago and converted it into a Top-10 result, finishing seventh after leading 33 laps.

Still, Sato wasn’t happy about the result, calling it “a disappointing finish.” Such is a sign of how he and the A.J. Foyt Racing camp have raised their expectations after breaking through one year ago in Long Beach.

You can also hear from another former Long Beach winner, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Josef Newgarden in the IndyCar-produced race preview above.

The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach begins NBCSN’s coverage of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. Qualifying will air this Saturday evening at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the race LIVE at 4 p.m. ET on both NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra for your online or mobile device.