FORT WORTH, Texas – AJ Foyt Racing drivers Jack Hawksworth and Takuma Sato are hoping for a little luck in tonight’s completion of the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Both cars are off the lead lap. Sato is running one lap down in 17th place in his No. 14 ABC Supply Honda while Hawksworth is two laps down in 20th in the No. 41 ABC Supply Honda.
In order to have any chance at a good run, let alone winning, it is going to take good strategy, good pace and maybe a little bit of luck – which both drivers acknowledge.
“We definitely need a yellow before the leading group gets a pit stop towards the end of the stint if we’re to get back on the lead lap,” said Sato. “Preferably that would happen in the earlier part of the race before it’s been mixed up by too many different sequences of cars in the field.”
“We need to have good pace and hope for some yellows during the early part of the race,” said Hawksworth. “This will allow us to get the pass-around (under a caution period) and hopefully put us back on the lead lap.”
Larry Foyt, team president of AJ Foyt Racing, also knows what the team is up against being deep in the field. Also Sato’s race strategist, Foyt believes that if the yellow flag falls at the right time, the team’s cars can be right back in the game. Under caution periods, cars not on the lead lap often stay on track while lead-lap cars make pit stops and can make a lap up when waved past the pace car until the race leader is directly behind the pace car.
“In any race you need a little a little luck to recover from being a lap down,” said Foyt. “With the INDYCAR wave-around rule, it’s definitely a possibility. First, you must have good speed to be able to stay within reasonable distance with the leaders.”
“Secondly, you need a timely yellow flag. If you can catch a yellow flag at a time where the leaders have typically used over half of their fuel in the tank, they will pit and you will be waved around the pace car and back on the lead lap.”
With Texas being the home state for team owner A.J. Foyt and the Houston-based team, there is added pressure to perform in its home race. The team has won at the 1.455-mile oval once with Billy Boat in the June 1998 race.
“Every race carries pressure, but outside of Indianapolis, it's a place special to the team and A.J.,” Larry said. “It is close to home, but it's also a high-bank, high-speed racetrack, and my dad loves that type of track and always wants us to run well here.”