Takuma Sato will not start tonight’s Genesys 300, his car was unrepairable after suffering a hard crash in qualifying at Texas Motor Speedway.
The 43-year-old was on the first of a two-lap qualifying run and went into Turn 1 higher than the 13 drivers ahead of him, which put him in the dark grey/black area of the track where the adhesive compound – PJ1 TrackBite – had been previously for NASCAR. Upon entry, his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda snapped around, spun, then hit nose first into the outside wall, sliding to a stop in Turn 2.
“Well, I wanted to see the replay. First of all, yeah, it was a big moment. It was only the warm-up lap and I just lost the back end. Immediately, I turned it. Usually, it didn’t happen that way, so it caught me by a big surprise. I feel sorry for the boys, obviously who prepared everything. Hopefully we can fix it in time for the race. It’s quite tight.”
Due to the time constraints between qualifying, which ended around 6:15 p.m. ET, and the race at 8:00 p.m., the team was unable to make repairs to the primary car and get through tech.
The area in both parts of the track, Turns 1-2 and Turns 3-4, is visually different from the inside line favored by many IndyCar drivers during their respective runs. Although the track was scrubbed recently to ensure the substance wasn’t on the track, it left behind a darkened stain that has dramatically changed the feel for the drivers.
“It’s slippery,” said Graham Rahal, Sato’s teammate, who qualified seventh. “And we even discussed it — it’s a very fine line. You go too high, the car becomes very loose; you go into the corner too shallow, it doesn’t want to turn it all.”