Sato dealt with gearbox issues that weren't of his making on Friday, but found the wall once again Saturday morning during practice, damaging the left rear suspension and a bit of bodywork. The track was slick after overnight rain, and Sato wasn't the only driver to make a mistake during the session, but the sight of another damaged No. 14 car left Foyt wondering if his driver received the message that was intended in Friday's wakeup call.
“It's tough, because he's a professional and knows what he has to do. Sure, we all make mistakes, but… We lost a lot of time this morning because of a mistake and that hurt us going into qualifying (Sato starts 16th). We talked about it; we all know what has to be done in the last few races.
“We weren't far from making it through to the next round in qualifying, and, you have to ask whether, if we'd had more track time this morning, we'd have found more speed to advance and give ourselves a better chance tomorrow. It's really just thinking about things like that, and that's where we need to get to.”
Foyt's team-first approach came through during the conversation in many instances where he used the word “we” where using “he” would have been more accurate. Asked if he felt the team could close its season in a similar fashion to how it started, Foyt was optimistic about “we” keeping the car in one piece on a more frequent basis.
“I think we can get back to where we were,” he noted. “You have a few bad results and then you start trying too hard and you make things worse, which is where we're trying to pull ourselves out from. I think we just need to take a breath, relax a bit, and we can tap into how well we were running early in the year. It's definitely possible. We just have to go out and do it.”
Dale Coyne Racing's James Davison will embark on his first IndyCar Series race tomorrow from 17th position, sandwiched between series veterans Takuma Sato and Oriol Servia. He'll also have Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan and promising second-year driver Josef Newgarden starting behind, but the Aussie told RACER he's not satisfied with his performance or where he'll start on Sunday.
“I've gone from such a swing of emotions from being content to finish 19th or 20th in a session yesterday to matching [James] Hinchcliffe and [Helio] Castroneves in qualifying and being so disappointed in myself for making a mistake in Turn 9 that cost me a chance to improve on that position,” he said.
“I think it would have been an amazing statement to have beaten those guys in my first IndyCar qualifying session, so I'm obviously not pleased about missing out on that. But if there's a consolation, it's that I'm starting 17th, which is something we can work with.”
As part of the first group of qualifier on Saturday, Davison had plenty of beasts to deal with. Series champions Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon, his teammate Justin Wilson, along with Hinchcliffe and championship-leader Castroneves were among the obstacles to overcome, making Davison's best lap of 1:06.283 seconds—just 0.0559 shy of HCN and 0.0641 off of Hinch—something he should be proud of.
But producing a few quick laps in qualifying, as Davison shares, is far less of a challenge than maintaining that pace throughout an entire race.
“I've been out of an open-wheel car, at least in a racing environment, for four years, so I'm happy to be pretty close to the fastest drivers in my qualifying group, but I know it will be different tomorrow,” he remarked. “You can train all you want in the gym, but race fitness is really only something you can build up by driving a car on a regular basis. And I've got pit stops to do for the first time. Leaving the pits on cold tires on full fuel… I've got a lot to learn.
“I have to be realistic about tomorrow and know I'm at a disadvantage to a whole series of excellent drivers who are so experienced and ready to operate at the highest levels all day. It's an honor for me to be here, and I think I've shown I belong, that I have the speed. But I also need to become a complete IndyCar driver and that's really what I'm looking to do in the race to help learn the rest of the game.”