In the season opener at Texas, Takuma Sato didn’t get a chance to start the race. He crashed in qualifying and his No. 30 Honda wasn’t repaired in enough time to get to start. So, he was credited with a last place 24th place finish. Luckily for him, other than a 21st place finish in Iowa 2, the season has gone great for the Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing driver.
Sato, was 10th in the Indy GP on July 4. He was ninth and eighth respectively at Road America a week later. That took him from 21st to 16th in points. In Iowa, he was 10th in Race 1. He moved up to 15th in points but back down to 17th after that 21st place result a night later.
Then, the hot streak got hotter. Sato, qualified third and won the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on Aug. 23. He went from 17th to sixth in the standings due to that being a double points race. At World Wide Technology Raceway, he nearly won the first race of the doubleheader race weekend and came home runner-up. That propelled him to fourth overall making up 13 spots in the standings in six days. From July 4, he’s up 17 spots overall. He was ninth in race 2 last month.
“We just try hard to have a strong race for each weekend and produce the best possible result, said Sato. “It’s extremely important to have strong finishes for the standings. Mathematically, I think it’s (championship) still possible, but I think Scott (Dixon) is on the way to win. Still, we achieved a big win at Indy and another podium at St. Louis and want to end the season strong. We’re doing everything we can.”
Now, it’s to Mid-Ohio to where Sato is 142 points out. He looks like one of Dixon’s biggest threats for the championship now, but is he too far out? Sato, has no podiums in 10 career starts on the Ohio road course but does have a top 10 in two of the last four years too.
“A doubleheader at Mid-Ohio will be more physical than (having a doubleheader at) Road America, for sure,” Sato said. “Mid-Ohio doesn’t have several long straights like Road America and has constantly continuous corners with a relatively short lap, so it’s difficult to get any rest during a lap.
“However, I think the doubleheader is a good thing for the sport for this season under the circumstances. It’s certainly more challenging for a doubleheader weekend because naturally you lose a session for practice, and it becomes a very compressed time schedule so engineers won’t have a enough time to analyze the data. The track’s characteristics are different, but we believe we can carry good knowledge from the road course races at Indianapolis and Road America.”
This is also his teammates home track too, so expect Sato to still be strong.