Takuma Sato has found a new home in IndyCar, and A.J. Foyt has a new driver—in what could be one of the most volatile pairings in the sport, the Japanese ex-F1 driver and the irascible Texan have teamed up for 2013.
Sato, a very fast driver with a penchant for exciting (read “reckless’) moves had a great year in 2012, almost winning a few times—and also wrecking his way out of possible wins a few times.
After seven years in Formula One, Sato came to the States to try his hand at IndyCar. He drove for KV Racing for 2010–2011, earning three top-five finishes in his last year there, then moved to Rahal-Letterman for 2012, where he scored a second- and a third-place finish.
Sato famously nearly won the 2012 Indy 500 (and nearly wrecked eventual winner Dario Franchitti) with a desperate last-corner passing attempt that sent the Japanese driver into the wall. The maneuver perfectly typifies what the A.J. Foyt racing website calls Sato’s “No Attack, No Chance” attitude.
“I like the fact that he is competitive on both road courses and ovals and that he is a charger,” said Foyt on his website. “I think he has learned quite a bit in the short time he’s been over here and I look forward to working with him this year.”
Sato was thrilled to be driving for an American racing legend like A.J. Foyt.
“I am extremely excited to be a part of A.J. Foyt Racing and working with ABC Supply for the 2013 season,” Sato said. “I have seen the potential of the team last year on a number of occasions. I think the team has one of the best engineering staffs in the paddock led by Don Halliday. I can’t wait to start testing next month.
“While I do not know A.J. well yet, it is unbelievable what he did in his career. A.J. has achieved so many wins in every type of car, at every type of circuit, and in every type of situation. That experience can only help in trying to win races this year. I think with A.J. and the team helping me this year, we can be very successful.”
A.J. Foyt has had success in every form of racing he tired. His record includes four Indianapolis 500 wins, one Daytona 500, plus victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 24 Hours of Daytona. Legendary for his racing prowess. Foyt is also known for his temper—in the past he had been willing to use his hands to express his displeasure in some situations. Possibly the 77-year-old has mellowed somewhat, but patience has never been a word associated with A.J.
Neither has it been mentioned much in connection with Sato. The common wisdom was that Sato needed to be paired with a calm, patient team owner to balance the driver’s impetuousness—but this didn’t seem to work with Bobby Rahal.
Perhaps at 35 Sato has also mellowed, and he will find peace at Foyt racing. Or perhaps the common wisdom is wrong, and the excitable nature of the driver and team owner will fuel each to new levels of competitive success.Either way, Sato has shown that he knows how to drive Indy cars, and quickly, on every kind of course, and A.J. also knows how to win. This could be a team to watch through the 2013 IndyCar season.
The 2013 IndyCar season kicks off with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 24. Get your tickets now at GPStPete.com.
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