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IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Takuma Sato

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MotorSportsTalk continues its look through the driver-by-driver field in the Verizon IndyCar Series with 14th-placed Takuma Sato, driver of the flagship No. 14 car for A.J. Foyt Enterprises.

Takuma Sato, No. 14 A.J. Foyt Enterprises Honda

  • 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
  • 2015: 14th Place, Best Finish 2nd, Best Start 4th, 1 Podium, 1 Top-5, 5 Top-10, 46 Laps Led, 14.0 Avg. Start, 13.8 Avg. Finish

Sato was better than most people will have realized in 2015, and he didn’t have a lot of results to go along with what was probably his best season in three with A.J. Foyt Enterprises. After finishing 17th in points in 2013 and 18th last year, he improved to 14th this year. The problem for the Japanese fan favorite is that in a field this deep, it becomes really hard to stand out, and 14th doesn’t necessarily scream “look at me” on paper.

But perhaps that was a good thing. Sato, who’s been maligned for his DNFs in the past, had only four in 2015 (down from eight in 2013 and seven last year), and only two via accidents (Fontana, Iowa). Sage Karam opted to put the blame on Sato for their first lap contact at the Indianapolis 500, but with Karam the meat in a Sato and Ryan Hunter-Reay sandwich, realistically it was a racing incident where all drivers needed to give and take. Even with the contact, Sato rebounded to a respectable 13th place finish.

Sato’s best result was a second in Detroit race two, which provided a welcome return to the podium for the first time since Brazil 2013, when he lost the win at the last corner. Like last year, he ended the season with back-to-back top-10 results, sixth and eighth at Pocono and Sonoma. More impressively, in a year when Honda drivers struggled to make the Firestone Fast Six, Sato and Hunter-Reay were the only Honda drivers to make it twice.

Perhaps having a second car aided Sato, who stepped up as team leader in the Larry Foyt-led team with second-year driver Jack Hawksworth on board. He’s been on a single car team for the last three years, two at Foyt and in his single exciting year at Rahal Letterman Lanigan in 2012. Sato’s done a very nice job of correcting course the last two years, and is a steady fixture with Foyt, planning to continue once again into 2016.

IndyCar at IMS Friday: How to watch, start times, live streaming info

IndyCar Indianapolis start times
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With three races remaining in the NTT IndyCar Series season, Scott Dixon has a commanding lead and history on his side entering Friday’s opener of the Harvest GP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The five-time series champion leads defending champ Josef Newgarden by 72 points.

Since 2014, the points leader with three races left has won the championship in five of the past six years, including Dixon in ’18.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver has led the championship standings following every round after opening 2020 with three consecutive victories. Dixon also led the points by 78 points with three races remaining when he won the title in 2008.

Dixon, Newgarden, Pato O’Ward, Colton Herta, Will Power, Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato are championship eligible.

Anyone outside 108 points of the lead after Indy will be eliminated heading into the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

Here is the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course schedule for Friday (all times are ET), including details and start times:


Indianapolis Motor Speedway TV schedule for Friday

IndyCar Harvest GP Race 1: 3:30 p.m., USA Network, NBC Sports Gold and streaming on the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com); Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer for IndyCar on NBCSN this weekend with analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy.


IndyCar Harvest GP, Race 1 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway start times, information

COMMAND TO START ENGINES: 3:53 p.m.

GREEN FLAG: 4 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 85 laps (207.35 miles) around Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s a 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in Indianapolis.

TIRE ALLOTMENT: Nine sets primary, five sets alternate (A 10th set of primary tires is available to any car fielding a rookie.) Teams must use one set of primary and one set of alternate tires in the race.

PUSH TO PASS: 200 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 20 seconds per activation.

FORECAST: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 57 degrees with a 0% chance of rain at the green flag.

QUALIFYING: 6:20 p.m. Thursday (NBC Sports Gold)

ENTRY LIST: Click here for the 25 drivers racing this weekend at Indianapolis