Takuma Sato and the ABC Supply team are in their first season together. Sato is making his first start at Reliant Park. Following his DNF at Baltimore (after starting 10th), he is 15th in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings.
· Difficulty of first time venues: “I always enjoy finding out about new venues. Normally, I wouldn't have difficulty figuring out the new track, but preparation is always important. Race footage from the past can be quite useful but the track walk is the best way to learn. If it isn't available there, then the very first install lap will become an interesting one.”
· What he knows about Houston: “It was fun the night that I went downtown for dinner with Larry [Foyt] when I visited the race shop, a quite fancy place I thought. I've never been there before but only know Houston as NASA's Space Center. I will for sure find out more when I visit the city for the two media advance days this week.”
· On month long break: “I think after a long break, everyone hungers to get back racing but that doesn't mean it makes for more or less aggressiveness in my case. Since we had a very busy mid-season, a few weeks break is very refreshing and it gives me a nice feeling. I’m very motivated but I don't think there is much effect in terms of aggressiveness.”
· On 2013 Season: “It just shows how competitive the IndyCar series is. Some teams have been catching up very rapidly so we need to keep pushing and finding the competitiveness, but we also had a couple of unlucky moments.”
· On final three races: “Well we showed good speed at the last street race and had a productive test day at Fontana, so hopefully we won't have any more bad luck. I expect our team will be very competitive."
· On racing Super Formula at Sportsland SUGO in Japan this past weekend (Sato started eighth and finished 11th): “It is a pretty tough environment because it’s kind of a one race deal entering another series in the middle of the season, but I enjoyed racing in front of my home crowd in Super Formula at the SUGO track in Sendai. That is very close to the area of all the victims of the March 11, 2011 earthquake. I went to the devastated area once again and visited an elementary school there and had a great time with the students. We also invited many kids to SUGO through our ‘With you Japan’ activity and they had a great time there.”
· Welcome Back A.J.! Houstonian A.J. Foyt was named Grand Marshal of the Grand Prix which will be his first race back since the June 8 race at Texas Motor Speedway. Foyt spent the summer recovering from his left hip replacement surgery on July 1. Foyt will be presenting the A.J. Foyt Trophy – a resin cowboy boot featuring his autograph and mounted on a marble base-- to the winners of both races. It’s no secret that he would like to keep it in the family!
· Takuma Sato and A.J. Foyt will be special guests at the Foyt Family Wines Dinner hosted by FFW co-founder Larry Foyt at Carrabba’s Italian Grill in downtown Houston Wednesday evening. The dinner will kick off the race week festivities for the Foyts who will be participating in their first hometown race in the IndyCar Series.
· Sato will be one of four drivers appearing at Houston’s City Hall on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. where Mayor Annise Parker will proclaim Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston Day to officially kick off the race. Plans call for the drivers to compete in an exhibition go-kart race around City Hall and One Shell Plaza with the race ending in front of City Hall.
· 2013 Season Performance: Takuma Sato will be looking to regain the form he showed in the first half of the season when he claimed his first IndyCar victory at the Grand Prix of Long Beach and finished second in the streets of Sao Paulo. He has only finished one race since his seventh place finish at Milwaukee. That event was the Mid-Ohio 200 when he placed 22nd. A variety of mechanical issues sidelined him in four races.
· ABC Supply national account Affiliated Roofing, headquartered in Dallas, will be featured on the engine cover of the No. 14 ABC Supply car. Guests will receive the VIP treatment this weekend and will meet A.J. Foyt.
· ABC Supply roofing customer Joe Ochoa Roofs and Even More, based in Stafford, Texas, will be featured atop the sidepods of the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda. Guests will receive selected merchandise, race tickets, hospitality and garage passes, plus a Meet and Greet with A.J. Foyt.
· ABC Supply will host over 600 guests this weekend. The company is in its ninth year as primary sponsor of A.J. Foyt’s No. 14. Since ABC Supply began sponsoring AJ Foyt Racing in 2005, they have entertained well over 50,000 people at IZOD IndyCar Series events.
· Headquartered in Beloit, Wis., ABC Supply was founded by Ken and Diane Hendricks in 1982. The company has more than 455 branches in 45 states and is dedicated exclusively to serving professional contractors. ABC Supply has distinguished itself by following a simple guiding principle – take care of contractors better than any other distributor. It remains an “employee-first” company that treats its associates with respect and gives them the tools they need to succeed. As a six-time winner of the Gallup Great Workplace Award, which recognizes the best-performing workforces in the world, ABC Supply is one of only a handful of companies in the world to have earned this honor every year since its inception in 2007. More information is available at www.abcsupply.com.
· The Grand Prix of Houston Race 1 will be televised live Saturday, Oct. 5, starting at 3:00 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network. Race 2 will be televised live Sunday, Oct. 6 starting at 1:00 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network.
AJ Foyt Racing