There is no "I" in the word "team." Today that was obvious as Takuma Sato lauded his ABC Supply/AJ Foyt Racing team after piloting his No. 14 ABC Supply Honda to a thrilling second-place finish in the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 2 at Belle Isle Park.
Teammate Jack Hawksworth also turned in a terrific performance to finish seventh in the No. 41 ABC Supply Honda.
"First, congratulations to Takuma, he did a good job, and it's great to see those guys on the podium," Hawksworth said. "Obviously our race didn't go to plan, we ended up getting punted off twice by the same guy. It was disappointing. Not too good in the wet, and then at the end we got the slicks on and we were quick and were able to make up positions but we needed more green time. We pitted and hoped there'd be some more green [flag racing] because the guys at the front would have had to come in, but it didn't happen for us. But I'm happy to recover for a seventh."
Sebastien Bourdais won the race at the 2.35-mile temporary circuit. Following Bourdais and Sato across the line were Graham Rahal, Tristan Vautier, Marco Andretti, rookie Conor Daly (who was subbing for injured James Hinchcliffe), and Hawksworth.
When heavy rain washed out qualifying earlier today, the starting grid was set according to the point standings, relegating Sato to 15th and Hawksworth to 19th.
The rain continued into the afternoon and the temperatures hovered in the 50s making the track conditions difficult.
It was the best performance for both of Foyt's drivers this season. The runner-up finish was Sato's first podium appearance since finishing second in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2013. Hawksworth's seventh was his second straight, having finished there the day before and it stands as his best finish to date for AJ Foyt Racing.
Sato put it into perspective when he noted in the post-race press conference, "We had a scary winter [referring to team owner A.J. Foyt's lengthy hospital stay following triple bypass surgery and ensuing complications], and finally A.J. came back in May, and now this is his third attendance at a race, and we presented him with a good result. Hopefully, we have more to come."
The top-five and top-10 finishes give the Texas-based team positive momentum as they return to their home state this week for the first time since May 2. The Verizon IndyCar Series will race at Texas Motor Speedway Saturday night, June 6.
While rain may be a problem in the roofing business, it is not a problem for the ABC Supply Racing drivers Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth. Amidst the inclement weather that made Race 1 of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle a dicey affair today, both drivers took their ABC Supply Hondas to the front.
With a heavy downpour dousing the track before the race, INDYCAR officials declared a wet start, meaning all cars had to use rain tires. Sato, who started fourth, wasted no time showing his prowess in the rain as he passed the top three Team Penske drivers by lap three. Sato led through lap 14 and then pitted for slicks (dry track tires) as the track began to dry.
Hawksworth pitted on lap 10 for slicks along with a handful of other drivers. When the leaders pitted five laps later, Hawksworth vaulted from his 14th starting spot to third behind Marco Andretti and Lucca Filippi.
Hawksworth moved into second on lap 20 and held that position until his team called him in to get rain tires on lap 34 since the rain started falling again. Sato was also told to pit for rain tires the same lap. Both drivers had uneventful stops but they had lost track position to a couple cars that either pitted a couple laps earlier or hadn't pitted until several laps later.
Hawksworth emerged seventh and Sato 14th. Several drivers such as Andretti and his teammate Carlos Munoz stayed on the slick tires despite the ever-slickening track. By the time they did pit, they had increased their lead enough to pit without losing a position to those behind them. Munoz waited the longest, pitting on lap 42. The strategy paid off as Munoz claimed his first victory in the Verizon IndyCar Series when the race was red-flagged due to weather conditions on lap 48.
Hawksworth claimed seventh for his best finish of the season. "Today was definitely a fun race, there was a lot of action going on," the 24-year-old Brit said. "I was at the back, at the front, then the middle and finished seventh in the end. The ABC Supply car was really good. The strategy was one of those 50/50 decisions whether you come in for wets or stay out on the dry tires (slicks). At least we were in a pretty good position from that perspective. We came in a little too early as it turned out and got jumped by a few people. But the car was really good and the guys were good on the stops. It was nice to score some points today."
Sato passed several cars to finish 11th in race 1 at Belle Isle.