MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the field of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series lineup. Eighteenth was Takuma Sato, who endured a miserable run of luck throughout the season.
- Team: A.J. Foyt Enterprises
- 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
- 2014: 18th Place, Best Finish 4th, 2 Poles, 2 Top-5, 5 Top-10, 66 Laps Led, 12.6 Avg. Start, 15.5 Avg. Finish
Like Graham Rahal, Takuma Sato weirdly had a better 2014 than 2013, yet also suffered a one-spot dropoff in the points (17th to 18th). It was just due to a miserable midseason, where luck was not his friend, that he lost out on a bevy of potential good results.
The period of undoing occurred from the Indianapolis 500 through Toronto race one, where Sato finished: 19, 18, 18, 18, 22, 19, 22, 22, and 23. He ran top-five in several of those races – the ‘500 required a late pit stop, he was on the receiving end of contact in Detroit despite a pole, he starred while leading in Houston race one before his and Mikhail Aleshin’s contact, and qualified fourth at Pocono. Yet the results went begging.
Things improved, fortuitously, for the tail end of the year with finishes of fourth and sixth in the last two races in California. That at least brought him back to 18th in the points when at one point this year, he ranked lowest of all full-time drivers – again, through almost no fault of his own.
It remained a frustrating campaign because the speed was there (he had two poles), the excitement was there (Houston was amazing to watch), the mistakes were reduced, and yet the results largely weren’t there. I like Sato both as a person and with the excitement he brings to IndyCar, and so it was tough to see that spirit of his go unrewarded more often than not.