CAR NUMBERS: 14, 41 (INDIANAPOLIS ONLY)
2013 DRIVER: TAKUMA SATO, CHASE AUSTIN (INDIANAPOLIS ONLY)
2013 SPONSORS: ABC SUPPLY CO.
2013 ENGINE MANUFACTURER: HONDA
Move over Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon, we have a new odd couple in the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2013. After a season of mixed results in 2012 with Mike Conway culminated with Conway’s resignation from oval racing, AJ Foyt Racing was forced to find a new pilot for its Honda-powered Dallara sponsored by ABC Supply Company. The free agent list in IndyCar was extensive but AJ Foyt dropped a bomb on the racing world by hiring Japanese driver Takuma Sato as the full-season participant for the team. An odd couple it may seem, but Takuma Sato could be just the kind of driver needed to catapult Foyt’s operation to a consistent contender on a weekly basis.
Foyt’s team has always seemed to suffer from lack of pace, but if there is anything that Takuma Sato has proven in his three year tenure in INDYCAR that he is anything but slow. Sato spend 2012 with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing showing flashes of being the fastest driver in the Paddock and put his competition on notice. A brilliant drive in the Indianapolis 500 that ended in the wall caught the attention of everyone on the grid. Expect to see the No. 14 with consistent, competitive pace but whether they enjoy a breakout season is in the hands of the driver.
The Cause for Concern:
Nobody doubts Takuma Sato’s ability to push a car to its limits getting every ounce of speed but what is open to doubt is whether Sato can temper his aggressive tendencies that have so often resulted in contact with the barriers separating the racing surface from those in the grandstands. Takuma Sato will, undoubtedly, crack the top echelon of the grid at points in every race this season, however, transferring his quick pace into points paying finishes will be what to watch for. AJ Foyt is certainly hoping his roll of the dice in signing Sato will result in a major leap forward for his team which has, historically, been mired in the bottom third of the IZOD IndyCar Series grid.
Takuma Sato will breathe a shred of new life into AJ Foyt Racing giving them something to be excited about. Qualifying towards the front of the grid on Road and Street Circuits should be a regularity but Sato will suffer from a lack of engineering expertise to qualify well on the ovals, but should make his way to the front. Sato will have a difficult time finishing races resulting in a 15th place or lower finish in the final points but could climb higher if the finishes match the potential.