IndyCar Driver Review: Takuma Sato

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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.

2014 SEASON PREVIEW

Takuma Sato

  • 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.

Travis Pastrana leads flag-to-flag in Nitro Rallycross as the series returns to America

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
Barry Chin / Getty Images
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Travis Pastrana waited until the final trip around ERX Motor Park to take his Joker Lap – a longer way around the course that all drivers must do at least once in a race – and came out cleanly to win his first Nitro Rallycross race of 2022. With this win, Pastrana is the third driver to visit Victory Lane in the first three rounds of the 2022-23 season.

“This is the closest to a motocross track,” Pastrana told Katie Osborne on Peacock. “Thank you so much for a beautiful facility. It’s been a rough start to the season and I’m so thankful to be back out here. We had a good run in the side-by-side and now for this. This is much needed.”

Another thing needed was the sense of improvement. And Pastrana earned that affirmation each time he completed a lap around the course.

“I get my lap times read out and they said ‘fastest time of the week,’ ‘fastest time of the week’ (each time around) ” Pastrana said. “This is really special. We’re a long way behind in the championship, but welcome to America.”

In a pre-race press conference, Pastrana said that as Nitro Rallycross heads back to America, it was time for an American to win and he made good on his promise. Pastrana took the early lead over Robin Larsson and let the back of his Subaru hang out, taking risks he might not otherwise take if not for his need to win.

How to Watch Nitro Rallycross

Larsson’s second-place finish completed a perfect sweep of the podium in three rounds. In fact, he has not yet finished worse than second after winning the opening round at Lydden Hill in the United Kingdom and finishing second at Strangnas in Sweeden.

Fraser McConnel rounded out the podium for his best result of the season. He finished fourth in each of the first two rounds.

Last year, Pastrana finished second in this race to Scott Speed before narrowly edging his teammate for the championship.

Andreas Bakkerud crashed in prelims, but rebounded to finish just off the block in fourth. Bakkerud won the second round ahead of his teammate Larsson.

Oliver Bennett completed the top five.

Minneapolis is the first of three rounds scheduled in the United States. Next on the schedule is Glen Helen, Calif. on Octo 30 and then Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass on November 12th. Nitro Rallycross will then head to Saudi Arabia in December to continue their 2022-23 season.