Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio

LEXINGTON, Ohio (Aug. 2, 2015) – Graham Rahal’s surge in the second half of the Verizon IndyCar Series season continued with an emphatic victory in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. Rahal, who started 13th in the 90-lap race in the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, corralled his second victory of the season and third of his Indy car career.

Click HERE to view and download the Official Box Score from the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.

The New Albany, Ohio, native closed to within nine points of Verizon IndyCar Series championship front-runner Juan Pablo Montoya with two races left in the season. There are a total of 10 drivers still mathematically eligible for the championship and the chance to hoist the Astor Cup at season’s end.

Since earning his first victory of the season June 27 at Auto Club Speedway – his first win since March 2008 – Rahal has placed third, fourth and first to challenge for his first series title.

Rahal’s father, Bob, a co-owner of Graham’s team, won the Indy car races at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 1985 and ’86.

“This track has been special for the Rahal family going back to the days of Jim Trueman,” said Graham Rahal, who wore an Ohio State University football-themed helmet. “Jim was the man who founded this place, got this place going. He was also the one who got my dad started in racing.

“I grew up at this place, running around when my dad was racing. It’s come full circle.”

Rahal is the eighth different winner in nine road/street course races this season. He picked up the lead for good on Lap 67 when the lead pack of cars, including race leader Montoya, pitted under caution for their final fuel/tire service.

That caution resulted from a single-car spin by rookie Sage Karam, whose No. 8 car stalled on track. INDYCAR stewards announced the spin would be subject to a post-race review.

Rahal then fended off Justin Wilson, Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon on a Lap 84 restart on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course following a full-course caution and went on to win by 3.4 seconds.

Wilson, who started 14th in the No. 25 Andretti Autosport Honda, placed a season-high second. Pagenaud also was a big mover in the race, advancing 12 positions relative to his starting spot in the No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet to finish third – matching his best finish of the season from Belle Isle-1. Dixon, a five-time winner at Mid-Ohio, started from the pole and finished fourth in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. He is 25 points behind Rahal in the title chase.

Montoya, who started 10th in the No. 2 Hawk Performance Team Penske Chevrolet and led 21 laps in the middle of the race, finished 12th.

“Everyone on the Hawk Performance Chevy did an amazing job,” said Montoya, who has topped the standings since winning the season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. “We did everything we were supposed to do today and the race was playing out perfectly for us. Unfortunately, we got a caution with about 25 laps to go that we didn’t need. It worked out for some and didn’t work out for others. But we had a great car and we still have the points lead. Ready for Pocono where we won last year.”

The next race on the schedule is the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway on Aug. 23. The season wraps up a week later with the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, which offers double points.

Sato Celebrates 100th Verizon IndyCar Series Start with Family, Fans

On one side of Takuma Sato’s racing helmet in script was “Sao Paulo 001” and on the opposite side was “Mid-Ohio 100.” Down the middle were outlines of various tracks where Sato has competed in the Verizon IndyCar Series – with a star in Long Beach to commemorate his 2013 victory in the venerable street course race.

The AJ Foyt Racing driver from Tokyo designed the helmet to mark his 100th Verizon IndyCar Series career start in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. His first start came at Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2010 and he hasn’t missed one since.

The race helmet and a companion helmet Sato used for practice and qualifying this weekend in the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda will be auctioned to benefit his charity, With you Japan, which raises funds to assist children in Japan who are still recovering from the devastating earthquakes and tsunami in 2011. Visit www.takumasato.com in the coming weeks for details.

Twenty-seven members of Sato’s fan club made the trip from Japan to Mid-Ohio to commemorate the century start for their favorite driver. The fans enjoyed dinner with Sato on Aug. 1 that included some of his favorite dishes: flank steak, “Sato” pork chops and Key lime pie. Many of the fans were wearing their own commemorative 100th race hats.

Sato’s most ardent and longtime fan – his mother, Akiko – also took in the race weekend.

“When I go to the races, I go not only as a mother but as one of Taku’s fans,” she said through an interpreter. “I’m happy he continues to pursue his dreams. He had a very strong wish for racing and worked very hard to get where he is today.”

Said Sato: “I just appreciate many things, especially the people who helped me to get where I am today. It is wonderful to be able to keep doing what you want, so the 100th race will be a great memory, but it’s just a milestone so I will keep on going.”

Sato’s race ended after 60 laps in 24th place, the result of early contact with another car and later going off course.

Galloway Loves Watching INDYCAR

Former Ohio State University and NFL wide receiver Joey Galloway was grand marshal for the Honda Indy 200.

“I’m so impressed with what (Verizon IndyCar Series drivers do) and how they do it and the fact that they can get those cars to go that fast for that long,” said Galloway, who got his own taste of speed in an INDYCAR Racing Experience two-seater this morning. “I love watching it.”

John Mandel, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., was the honorary starter. Also attending the race was American Honda president and CEO Takuji Tamada.

Of note

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver James Jakes met Aug. 1 with members of the Jakesy Nation, who camped at Mid-Ohio. The loose-knit fan club, which had its first conference while camping at Mid-Ohio in 2012, gave Jakes an early celebration for his 28th birthday on Aug. 4 with a cake. … For the second race in as many days, championship front-runners in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires had on-track contact. This time, Sean Rayhall (8Star Motorsports) was the beneficiary as he slipped past the collision of Ed Jones (Carlin) and Jack Harvey (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports) and drove to his second victory of the season by less than a second over Max Chilton (Carlin). Spencer Pigot (Juncos Racing) finished third, allowing him to vault into second in the point standings, six points behind Harvey and 12 up on Jones. … Neil Alberico (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) won the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires second race of the weekend, closing within 29 points of championship leader Santiago Urrutia (Team Pelfrey), who finished third in the race. … Nico Jamin (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) completed a weekend tripleheader sweep in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda race late Aug. 1. Jamin stretched his points lead to 50 over Jacob Eidson (Pabst Racing). All three Mazda Road to Indy series have only the doubleheader race weekend Sept. 10-13 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

HONDA INDY 200 AT MID-OHIO POST-RACE QUOTES:

WILL POWER (No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “The Verizon Chevy didn’t have a great start today as we had some contact there in the early laps and did some damage to the front wing. We had to come in early and have a long pit stop that put us way behind. It put us at the back of the field, but we had a really fast car. We were able to push ourselves up a few spots and we got lucky with that first caution, which put us in the top five. We had a pretty good shot for a podium finish there from that point until that last caution. If it had just stayed green we would have had a good recovery on our hands. Things just didn’t go our way in the end. We’ll just keep our heads up and look forward to Pocono.”

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 2 Hawk Performance Team Penske Chevrolet):“Everyone on the Hawk Performance Chevy did an amazing job today. From where we were on Friday to today was a huge difference. We did everything we were supposed to do today and the race was playing out perfectly for us. Unfortunately we got a caution with about 25 laps to go that we didn’t need. It worked out for some and didn’t work out for others. But we had a great car and we still have the points lead. Ready for Pocono, where we won last year.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “We had a great race today. The Hitachi Chevy guys did one heck of a job for me and Roger (Penske, race strategist) put us in great position to capitalize. There was a lot going on out there today, a lot of traffic. We had a great Hitachi Chevy but, unfortunately, the strategy didn’t play out for us. I wish there weren’t two weeks off before we go to Pocono because I really want to get back on the track soon.”

STEFANO COLETTI (No. 4 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): “Very disappointing race. We had the speed, the strategy was going to be good and then I had contact with (Takuma) Sato at the beginning of the race. I was half a car inside and he didn’t give me any room, so we touched and I had to come in for a new front wing and everything went downhill from there. It’s a shame because the car was fast and everything was good and I’m sure we could have had a great result, but that’s the way it ended.”

SAGE KARAM (No. 8 Comfort Revolution/Big Machine Records Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “It was a big learning experience for me today. When strategy doesn’t fall your way, it makes it even tougher on the team. The biggest thing today I learned was fuel saving. I was able to get better fuel mileage and get better lap times, which was a plus for me. Just really bummed for the mistake I made going into Turns 4-5. I was adjusting my brake bias and missed the apex to the corner and that was it. I was coming into the pits that lap as well. The car was pretty quick all day and who knows what we could have done if we stayed on the lead lap there. If the cautions fell our way a little, maybe we could’ve gotten up there toward the front.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “It’s tough when everyone has the same pace and everyone is on the same tire. With the new aero kits, there’s just such a big wake behind the cars and it sometimes makes it tough to get around people. We were trying to line up for that last restart there and the leader went way early there. Not a bad day for the Target car overall in the points and (we) moved up a bit in the championship race.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet): “The NTT Data Chevrolet was fast today – we just had a hard time making many passes out there with how tight everyone was. There were so many strategies in play and the yellows were throwing everyone’s original game plan off. We were consistent all race and we just worked hard to get up toward the front. I’m happy for Graham’s (Rahal) win today, especially with it being his hometown. We have a lot of work to do, but we have some time before Pocono to really figure out where we need to be.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 11 Team Hydroxycut – KVSH Racing Chevrolet):“Obviously a very disappointing day for the Hydroxycut Chevy car. We did what we had to do early on. We were saving fuel, then as usual the guys in the back pitted early and started exposing us. So we started to run quick and as soon as we turned the wick up, a yellow came out. We pitted and cycled to the back. After that, the race was pretty much over. But not only did it happen once, it happen twice when they closed the pits a second time for the (Sage) Karam incident. It’s disappointing because the car was good and the KVSH Racing team executed all weekend, but we ended up losing precious championship points. On days like this, you just have to move on and keep at it. We will go on to Pocono and see what we can do.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): “A very disappointing race. We took an early pit stop because this track is so difficult to overtake and the alternate strategy opens up some opportunities. Unfortunately we had an incident with (Stefano) Coletti, who tried to overtake me and clipped my rear wing and damaged it. We had to come back to replace the entire rear assembly. Something happened and it took too long, so we went down a couple laps. It’s very difficult to recover from that. In the end we ran wide, went off track and damaged the rear bumper, and we had to retire. Very disappointing but hopefully we will be strong in the last two races.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda): “Honestly, if I’d won a lot of races in my career but I never won this one, I think I’d be pretty disappointed. For the Rahals, when it goes back to Jim Trueman and everyone else, this track has been pretty special to us for so, so many years. Jim was the man who founded this place, got this place going. He was also the one who got my dad started in racing. It’s come full circle. I used to go to the Steak ‘ Shake about 5 to 8 miles from here and play around, eat a lot of cheese fries and stuff. It’s funny how this whole thing has come together. I’ve got the Buckeye helmet; this is all amazing. The tires were awesome; reds, blacks, it didn’t matter for me. Used reds were good for me, particularly at the end, I was just able to just absolutely gap anyone I needed to at the end. I didn’t have any push-to-passes left on that last restart so I was pretty nervous (Justin) Wilson would get me.”

RODOLFO GONZALEZ (No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “The start of the race was going pretty well, but after the first pit stop I made contact with (James) Jakes in Turn 2. When he hit me, it did some damage to the rear bumper and I lost all balance and rear downforce. The car was really ‘oversteery’ in the left-hand corners and really ‘understeery’ to the right. I was really just hanging on for the rest of the race. I was basically just driving around trying to get whatever position I could. That one moment compromised my entire race.”

TRISTAN VAUTIER (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): “Coming home sixth today is great for me and for the team. I had a blast out there; the car was good. We had a really fast car. I was able to put in some very good lap times while saving some fuel. It was great to be able to lead some laps with such a good race car. I am really thankful to Dale (Coyne) for having me in the car. It is an awesome group of people. (The team) is a small group of great people and I am having a blast this year. It was a really good job by Honda to have such good fuel mileage and great performance. Overall, it was a great end to our race weekend.”

LUCA FILIPPI (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka CFH Racing Chevrolet): “It was looking very good, but everything that could go wrong today happened to us. If there had been an asteroid crashing down somewhere in the world, it would have been on my car. I can say I am glad I didn’t get struck by lightning or hit by that asteroid and I can go home safe and sound. For the race, I think we were very fast. We probably had the second or third fastest lap of the race. We were running fourth when the yellow came out at the wrong time. We still had a good strategy, at the end we were just managing the fuel we had and hitting that number we wanted to. Unfortunately, there was a mistake in the calculation and we ran out of fuel. I did everything I could and the team did everything they could to get me as many positions as they could. It was just a very unfortunate situation. I think we have to be pleased with our pace today.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was a great day for the PPG Chevy, really. We had the roughest weekend of all. We had some mechanical issues earlier in the weekend, and Chevy and the whole team put a new engine in the back of the car for qualifying and then it was good. It’s funny how it works. We qualified badly and then we have a podium (finish). Good day, good day for the guys, it’s uplifting. We bounced back and congratulations to Graham Rahal.”

JUSTIN WILSON (No. 25 Andretti Autosport Honda): “It feels great to get a second place. I was pushing like hell to try and get past Graham (Rahal) on that restart; I knew I couldn’t lean on him or bang wheels with him – he’s a Honda driver going for the championship, so that was in the back of my mind. At the same time, I wanted to push him as hard as I could, make him honest and make him earn it. He did a fantastic job today. I had one more push-to-pass left but Graham was too quick. All the credit to him today because he was on fire. We pushed as hard as we could. I have to thank everyone at Andretti Autosport and Honda for all the work they’ve done. I’m pleased to get Honda a 1-2 finish at their home track.”

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 AndrettiTV/Cinsay Honda): “A good comeback for us to finish in the top 10 – we finished ninth. I think the last yellow didn’t help us; if it hadn’t gone yellow, I think we would have finished much further (up on the grid). Again, a great job for the team strategy-wise. We went to the front in the race again, so we really have to think about what’s happening in qualifying because it’s not normal to start so far back and finish ninth. Now we think about Pocono – it’s one of my favorite tracks and I have a lot of good memories there.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Snapple Honda): “We finished 10th – worst of the team, so it wasn’t the best day. We tried to salvage, we were the best of the cars on my strategy. We just got kind of screwed on our strategy.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “We had a good car, had a great race. The early yellow that Graham (Rahal) really got lucky on really killed our day, so we had to fight back from there. It was a good fight back, finishing seventh considering how badly the strategy went for us, how badly the yellows fell. It was a good day for the No. 28 DHL Honda.”

JACK HAWKSWORTH (No. 41 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda): “It was a long race with lots going on. We couldn’t catch a break at the start and then we were running ninth when the caution bit us and we cycled to the back. The car was OK once the tires came in, but we struggled on the initial start and restarts because we didn’t have as much grip as we did in practice. So we have to look into that. But we hung in there all day and it was one of those days where it could have all gone wrong, but we got a break with the caution at the end, passed a couple cars and got a top-10 finish. So it’s good to get some points.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Hartman Oil CFH Racing Chevrolet): “It was a tough day. Sometimes it is your day and sometimes it’s not. Today just wasn’t our day, that’s what it comes down to. Things play out for you sometimes and today didn’t play out for us strategy-wise. It was no real fault of our own, we just got unlucky. We had the pace and we had a good car, it was a good effort all weekend. It’s disappointing, but we’ll go on to the next one and hopefully take a shot at another victory in Pocono.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet):“Obviously I’m really disappointed. The No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Chevrolet was really good all weekend – the Chip Ganassi Racing cars are always good here at Mid-Ohio. I had really hoped to repeat the performance of 2013 and be in Victory Lane, but we just kept getting run into today. A lot of the things we could control we did well, but there were a lot more things that we couldn’t control and didn’t go our way. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the great thing about the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team: We’re really resilient. We’ll dig in and bounce back for the 500-mile race in Pocono and then finish out the season strong with double points on the ‘Best Coast.'”

GABBY CHAVES (No. 98 Bowers & Wilkins/Curb Honda): “We had a really good strategy, the car felt pretty strong. I was trying to charge, I was trying to be aggressive and the second-to-last restart, restarting from seventh, I got a good run on the fifth- and sixth- place guys. I had a line on the outside and I just got squeezed, got left no room there. You know it’s a bit of dirty driving from the other drivers, I did put myself in a tough situation, so I could’ve done it a little bit different. I am still happy with the way the race went. We had a strong car out there today, so I’m very glad with all my crew and the No. 98 Bowers & Wilkins, Castrol Edge car. I’m very proud of them.”