Photo: Chris Owens/INDYCAR

Sato Sweeps Day 2 of Open Testing in Phoenix

By Josh Farmer, Contributing Writer

AVONDALE, Arizona – Takuma Sato completed a Rahal Letterman Lanigan sweep of this weekend’s Verizon IndyCar Series open test at the ISM Raceway.

The driver of the No. 30 Mi-Jack Honda logged the fastest lap of the weekend at 19.379 seconds (189.885 mph) late in the three-hour session during Saturday evening’s final three-hour session.

“The open test was very successful,” Sato said. “Lots of things done and lots of things to be tried, and I think over the course of two days we learned a lot. Great car, definitely more exercise for the drivers, definitely busier with low downforce.

“We did qualifying simulations and race traffic runs. I think the Rahal Letterman Lanigan team is really strong, so I’m really looking forward to two more road course tests and hopefully, we’ll be ready for St. Pete.”

The 41-year-old Japanese driver was chased by Team Penske’s Will Power in both sessions. The No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet’s lap of 19.387 seconds (189.769 mph) in today’s second session stood as the second quickest of the weekend.

Tony Kanaan ended his first mass weekend with AJ Foyt Racing third quickest at 19.401 seconds (189.632 mph) while defending series champion Josef Newgarden was fourth at 19.425 seconds (189.399 mph). Marco Andretti was the last driver over 189 mph with the fifth quickest time of the day at 19.465 seconds (189.008 mph).

A handful of incidents slowed the action in the final hour. Four-time series champion Scott Dixon spun and slapped the Turn 2 wall while racing in traffic with around 45 minutes remaining in the session. Dixon walked away unhurt and still managed the seventh quickest time.

“We were just in traffic there,” Dixon said. “It was our second or third lap out of the pits. A couple of the Andretti cars got by and were a little bit slower. I got low in (Turns) 1 and 2, touched the throttle and had a bit of a run and lost the rear. Kind of late in the corner, but just touched with the rear and bent the left rear suspension.”

Matheus Leist had a few incidents today as well. The 19-year-old Brazilian rookie scraped the Turn 2 wall once in the first session and the Turn 4 wall twice in the final session. Much like yesterday, the driver of the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet brought his car home in one piece and ended the day 12th quickest.

Graham Rahal brushed the Turn 4 wall which ended the session around five minutes early. The driver of the No. 15 United Rentals Honda only mustered the 11th quickest lap of the night.

Full combined practice results can be seen here: INDYCAR Open Test Day 2.

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Josh Farmer joined the media center in 2012 after first discovering his love of IndyCar racing in 2004 at Auto Club Speedway. He has been an accredited member of the IndyCar media center since 2014 and also contributes to along with The Motorsports Tribune.