Skip to content

Partnership paying off for Sato, Foyt Racing

Apr 21, 2013, 11:42 PM EST

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

In an effort to jolt some life into his IZOD IndyCar Series team that hadn’t won a race since 2002, A.J. Foyt Racing team director Larry Foyt brought in the aggressive Takuma Sato to take over their No. 14 ABC Supply Honda — with the approval of his father, four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt, naturally.

Some wondered if the right call had been made in hiring Sato, the ex-Formula One driver that had gained a double-edged reputation for being exciting to watch and for being crash-prone. But to hear Larry tell it, the connection was immediate between the Japanese racer and the little team from Waller, Texas.

“We knew he was fast, [but] until you really know somebody, you don’t know how you’re going to work together and how it’s going to be,” Larry said on Sunday. “It was great — our first working relationship was a seven-day Caribbean cruise.  We’ve been good friends ever since.

“…I really think between our chief engineer, Don Halliday, and Takuma, there was a lot of trust there, which you have to have. It’s been great. Like Takuma said, the speed has been there. Little issues can always bite you. Our junior engineer kept telling us, ‘We don’t have to be the biggest team to win.’  There can be positives to being a smaller team and a tight-knit group.”

It appears that such an atmosphere seems to suit Sato, who snapped A.J. Foyt Racing’s long dry spell with a dominant victory at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. It’s a win that’s sure to resonate with many, from those that love the underdogs to Sato’s veritable army of fans in his homeland of Japan — a country still trying to recover from the devastating natural disasters of two years ago.

“People are still on the way back — 300,000 people still don’t have a home and have temporary living,” said Sato, who led IndyCar’s efforts to help those affected by the earthquake and tsunami. “This hopefully is good news to cheer them up and hopefully, this is just a start to bring more IndyCar excitement and enthusiasm to Japanese fans.”

And what did A.J. have to say about the breakthrough? He was back in the Lone Star State, preparing for surgery next week to relieve sciatica. However, he was eagerly watching the action unfold on TV.

“The last five laps were the longest of anything,” A.J. told Curt Cavin of The Indianapolis Star. “We’ve had a lot of drivers; none of them wanted to win.

“This boy [Sato] wants to win.”

It’s safe to say that the Foyts have made the right call after all.

Latest Posts
  1. FR3.5: Facu Regalia signs with Zeta Corse for 2015

    Feb 28, 2015, 5:00 PM EST

    © GP2 Media Service © GP2 Media Service

    Argentinian driver confirms his plans for the new season after a difficult 2014 with Hilmer Motorsport.

  2. Barcelona F1 2nd Test Paddock Notebook – Saturday

    Feb 28, 2015, 4:00 PM EST

    Sainz 282a Getty Images

    A full round-up from the penultimate day of F1 pre-season testing in Barcelona.

  3. Vergne enjoys first Ferrari run-out in Adelaide show run

    Feb 28, 2015, 3:30 PM EST

    V8 Supercars Clipsal 500 - Race 1 & 2 Getty Images

    Frenchman joined the team as a test driver for the 2015 season.

  4. More birthdays: Aldo Andretti, Bourdais, Hawksworth, Bachelart, Minassian, Leitzinger, Liddell

    Feb 28, 2015, 3:11 PM EST

    BourdaisTOR12 AP

    Bourdais, Hawksworth, Aldo Andretti and more all have birthdays today, February 28.

  5. Hamilton: “It wasn’t a particularly spectacular day”

    Feb 28, 2015, 3:00 PM EST

    Hamilton 282a Getty Images

    Despite posting a time that, when adjusted to account for tire compounds, could be 1.4 seconds quicker than the rest of the field, the Briton was unenthused about his performance.

  6. UPDATED: #AirJosef: Newgarden dunks with Pacers Power Pack (VIDEO)

    Feb 28, 2015, 2:30 PM EST

    AirNewgy AP

    How well does Josef Newgarden dunk? Find out in video he does with Indiana Pacers “Power Pack.”

  7. Sainz Jr. boosted by productive day for Toro Rosso

    Feb 28, 2015, 2:30 PM EST

    Sainz 282 Getty Images

    Today was Sainz’s last run in the Toro Rosso before his F1 debut at the Australian Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.

  8. Kevin Magnussen wanted Corvette Le Mans drive alongside his father, Jan

    Feb 28, 2015, 2:15 PM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Malaysia - Qualifying Getty Images

    Danish driver reveals he received the call to say he would not be racing in F1 very late, preventing him from securing a drive elsewhere in 2015.

  9. “Focus” light on IndyCar content, but oozes enough cool to enhance “cool factor”

    Feb 28, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    FocusLede AP

    Is “Focus” IndyCar-focused? No. Is it cool to have IndyCar as a part of a Will Smith movie? Definitely.

  10. Massa positive after final winter testing run for Williams

    Feb 28, 2015, 1:30 PM EST

    F1 Testing In Barcelona - Day Three Getty Images

    Brazilian driver finishes second on day three of the final test in Barcelona, two-tenths of a second behind pace-setter Lewis Hamilton.

  11. Hulkenberg surprised by Force India mileage in Barcelona

    Feb 28, 2015, 1:00 PM EST

    Hulkenberg 282 Getty Images

    German driver completes 234 laps in just a day and a half in Barcelona as he continues to learn about the VJM08.

  12. Hamilton fastest as Mercedes impresses again on day three

    Feb 28, 2015, 12:02 PM EST

    Hamilton 282 Getty Images

    British driver finishes two-tenths of a second clear of Felipe Massa on the penultimate day of pre-season testing in Barcelona.

  13. Vettel left wanting more from Ferrari SF15-T in testing

    Feb 28, 2015, 11:00 AM EST

    F1 Testing In Barcelona - Day Two Getty Images

    Four-time world champion will get his final test run in the new Ferrari on Sunday ahead of his grand prix debut for the team next month.

  14. Button: 100 laps felt like 1,000 to McLaren on Friday

    Feb 28, 2015, 10:00 AM EST

    Button 282 Getty Images

    British driver delighted with breakthrough after a miserable winter testing programme.

  15. Happy 75th birthday to one of the best ever, Mario Andretti

    Feb 28, 2015, 9:00 AM EST

    Indianapolis 500 Parade Getty Images

    We wish Mario Andretti, one of the all-time greats, a happy 75th birthday.

  16. Manor Marussia “very close” to racing in Australian GP

    Feb 28, 2015, 8:00 AM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Russia - Qualifying Getty Images

    Team founder John Booth is confident that the revived outfit will race in the Australian Grand Prix on March 15.

  17. IndyCar: Drivers, stars appear in Indy, LA, Detroit, Milwaukee for “Focus” premiere (PHOTOS)

    Feb 27, 2015, 7:00 PM EST

    WillSmithFocus AP

    IndyCar drivers hit several race markets for “Focus” premieres.

  18. GP2: Nathanael Berthon returns with Lazarus for 2015

    Feb 27, 2015, 4:30 PM EST

    © GP3 Series © GP3 Series

    French driver set for a fourth season in GP2 this year with Lazarus.

  19. Barcelona F1 2nd Test Paddock Notebook – Friday

    Feb 27, 2015, 3:30 PM EST

    Vettel 272 Getty Images

    All of the latest news, reports and features from the paddock in Barcelona.