Tuesday, March 3, 2015

2015 Verizon IndyCar Team-By-Team Preview: A.J. Foyt Racing

After winning their first race in over a decade in 2013, A.J. Foyt Racing took a step back in their second season with Takuma Sato behind the wheel of the #14 ABC Supply Co. Honda. The team will expand to two cars as ABC Supply Co. expands their support and the Texas-based team will bring in sophomore Jack Hawksworth.

2014 AJ Foyt Racing Review:
Wins: 0.
Best Finish: 4th (Sonoma).
Poles: 2 (St. Petersburg, Belle Isle 2).
Final Championship Position: 18th (Takuma Sato), 34th (Martin Plowman).

2015 Drivers:

Takuma Sato
Sato started off 2014 on a bright note with pole position and had he worked pit strategy a little bitter, the Japanese driver might have had his second career victory but he had to settle for seventh. He had another season full of accidents. Five of his seven retirements were because of accidents and he was the first retirement in three consecutive races during the summer. The only bright spot in the middle of the season for Sato was pole position at Belle Isle. He made a slight rebound in California with back-to-back top ten finishes at Sonoma and Fontana, only the seventh time Sato scored consecutive top tens.

Numbers to Remember: 14. The amount of starts away Sato is from hitting the century mark in IndyCar. Mid-Ohio is tentatively the race where he would reach that milestone.

29. Amount of finishes outside the top twenty for Sato in his IndyCar career. That is just over a third of his career finishes (33.72%).

16.6. Sato's average finish in the IndyCar Championship Standings.

Predictions/Goals: Don't hold your breath on a big change from Sato. Expect the usual four to five races outside the top twenty. Sato will have a handful of races where he is quick and at the front of every practice and qualifying session and he will come through with a top five but those races will be few and far between. It's hard to imagine Sato getting a fourth year with Foyt if his third is anything like his first two.

Jack Hawksworth
The British driver moves over from Bryan Herta Autosport to A.J. Foyt Racing for his second season in IndyCar. Hawksworth's best finish in his rookie season was third in Houston 2. The 2012 Star Mazda champion had a great run at Long Beach end with contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay while he started second at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and led a bunch of laps before settling for seventh. He finished sixth in Houston 1 and Toronto 2. The Brit picked up his first career top ten on an oval at Milwaukee where he finished tenth. Hawksworth's did have a hiccup when he suffered a heart contusion after a practice accident Pocono forcing him to miss that race, however Hawksworth did not miss any other races.

Numbers to Remember: 4. Amount of Fast Twelve appearances for Hawksworth in 2014.

2. Hawksworth had two retirements in 2014.

11. Hawksworth was running at the finish of 11 consecutive races to end the season. Sato was running at the finish of 11 races all of 2014.

Predictions/Goals: Hawksworth finished a position ahead of Sato in 2014, 16 points clear and he missed a race. The goal should be to beat his teammate again in 2015. The introduction of aero kits will throws a monkey wrench in everything we saw the last three but the one thing we did learn is Foyt does have the equipment and personnel to compete with the best but they have lack a driver who can consistently bring the car home in one piece. Hawksworth might be that guy and, depending on who comes out on top in the aero kit battle, he could break into top fifteen of the championship.

The 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series seasons gets underway on Sunday March 29th. ABC's coverage will begin at 3:00 p.m. ET with green flag at 3:30 p.m. ET.