INDYCAR: Sato Keeps On Rolling With Pole For Belle Isle Finale

RaceChaser Staff Featured, Verizon IndyCar Series 0 Comments

Takuma Sato celebrates after winning the Verizon P1 Award at Belle Isle Park in Detroit on Sunday. (Chris Jones/IndyCar photo)

DETROIT — Takuma Sato kept the momentum from his historic Indianapolis 500 win going on Sunday morning, winning the pole for the second race of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear in record fashion.

Sato took his No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda to a sizzling lap of 1 minute, 13.6732 seconds (114.831 mph) around the 2.35-mile, 14-turn Raceway at Belle Isle Park temporary street course, securing the top starting position for the 70-lap race (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC, INDYCAR Radio).

The lap turned by Sato tops the track record of 1:13.9681 (114.374 mph) that Graham Rahal set during qualifying on Saturday.

Sunday marked the sixth pole position of Sato’s eight-year Verizon IndyCar Series career and first since he was fastest in qualifying for the second Belle Isle race three years ago.

“The (No.) 26 car was a rocket ship,” Sato said. “Going through my (fast) lap, I mean, I gave 100 percent everything. There was nothing left on the inches. I was nearly hit the wall twice, but I was happy, I was confident. It’s absolutely team credit.

“To set the track record in this challenging track, it means a lot to me, and I’m very, very happy.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay, Sato’s Andretti Autosport teammate, will start on the outside of Row 1 after setting the fastest lap in a disjointed first qualifying group.

Hunter-Reay clocked a best lap of 1:15.2833 (112.376 mph) in the No. 28 DHL Honda, in a session limited to a little more than five minutes of green-flag time due to Carlos Munoz’s crash in Turn 2.

“It was a case where Group 1 only had the opportunity to run one or two laps on a set of tires,” said Hunter-Reay. “Some guys didn’t even get to get a lap in after the green (following the Munoz incident). It’s nice to start up front. We really didn’t have a shot at (the) pole. We’ll take it and hopefully progress from there.”

Munoz was uninjured, but his No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing ABC Supply Chevrolet sustained significant right-side damage and shortened what had been scheduled as a 12-minute session. Munoz will start last in the 22-car field today.

Rahal will start third in the No. 15 SoldierStrong/TurnsforTroops.com Honda. After winning Saturday’s race from the pole, the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver looks to become the first driver to sweep the Belle Isle doubleheader since the format was adopted in 2013.

Helio Castroneves, in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, will start beside Rahal in Row 2.

Points leader Scott Dixon starts from the outside of Row 4 in the No. 9 Camping World Honda. Dixon leads Castroneves in the championship battle by two points heading into Sunday afternoon’s race.

Full qualifying results can be viewed on the next page…

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