Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma – Sonoma Raceway
Verizon IndyCar Series
RACE NOTES/QUOTES – Sunday, September 17, 2017
RAHAL FINISHED SIXTH IN THE INDYCAR SERIES STANDINGS AFTER A SIXTH PLACE FINISH IN THE GOPRO GRAND PRIX OF SONOMA; ROOKIE CLAMAN DeMELO FINISHED 17TH IN HIS DEBUT
ZACHARY CLAMAN DeMELO, No. 13 Paysafe Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “Jack Harvey and Tony Kanaan came together and they got stuck and slowed down a bit more than I anticipated. I just clipped Harvey, who was really close, and unfortunately I broke the front wing which forced us to make an early pit stop. After that the pace was really good, I just tried to do my own thing but unfortunately dropped a lap down. I ran with some quick guys like Will Power and Helio (Castroneves), and drove away from Helio. I made some positions back on lapped traffic and ended up finishing 17th. It was a good day. I learned a lot and want to thank Paysafe for the opportunity. It’s nice to complete my first race and get this many laps in. Overall I’m happy with the day.”
- FAST FACTS: Claman DeMelo almost avoided multi car contact on the opening lap but had to pit to replace his front wing after Lap 1. This put him one lap down and on a different fuel strategy but enabled him to run in clean air for parts of the race. He ran between veterans Will Power and Helio Castroneves and maintained their pace and gained valuable knowledge. He ultimately finished 17th…Was his first Indy car race and also his first race at Sonoma Raceway. His participated in an Indy Lights test at this track two years ago. It was only his second time in an Indy Lights car at that point… He finished fifth in 2017 Indy Lights standings after earning four podium finishes, including a win at Road America. It was his second year in Indy Lights.
GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 United Rentals / SoldierStrong Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “We had a great race and raised more money for United Rentals and the Turns for Troops program. We went out there and pushed as hard as we could. The Honda engine got us great fuel mileage so that made life a little bit easier. We could attack for quite a lot of the race. Obviously tires were key today, they went off a lot. We tried as hard as we could to make some good passes but I think sixth is the best that we could expect this weekend. I tried to get by Helio there near the end but came up a little bit short. I was in front of him but he broke really late, which I would have done too, and just slid across my front. We have finished fourth, fifth, and now sixth in the standings this year. Our team is doing a good job. We have a lot to be proud of this year. We have to just keep pushing as hard as we can. I hope we can come out on top next year.”
- FAST FACTS: Rahal moved from 9th to 7th ahead of Sato and Hunter-Reay on the opening lap and avoided contact through a wild start. When front runner Pagenaud elected to pit on a four stop strategy to others three stop ones, Rahal moved to sixth on Lap 12. He ran behind Rossi but was able to pass him when they both pit on Lap 17. In order to moved up to sixth in season-ending standings, Rahal needed to finish at least a few positions ahead of Rossi in the race. Rossi later had mechanical issues and finished the race 20+ laps down. Rahal ran in the top six for the rest of the race other than pit cycles and challenged Castroneves for fifth at one point but finished sixth… Was his 10th Indy car race here. His best start is fifth place and best finish is second – both in 2016 with RLLR. He has finished in the top-10 in five of his nine races. In 2016, he started fifth and held the position until his first stop on Lap 15. He returned to the track in sixth place. Once he passed Daly, who had yet to stop, on Lap 16 he returned to fifth place. Third place Castroneves, who was on a four stop strategy to Rahal’s three-stop one, pitted on Lap 29 and he moved into fourth. Championship contender Will Power, who had previously been second, had gear issues after Lap 30 and Rahal moved to third before his second stop under caution for Power on Lap 36. He returned to the track in fourth place behind Kimball, who was on a four stop strategy. On Lap 42, he passed Kimball for third and moved into second on Lap 50 when Castroneves pitted. He took the lead on Lap 61 when Pagenaud pitted before he went one lap longer and made his final stop on Lap 62. He returned to the track in third place but reclaimed second once Castroneves pitted on Lap 69. He closed to one second on leader Pagenaud for much of the time but the rear of his race car was loose when he got too close and he was unable to make a pass. He took the checkered flag in second place and moved to a fifth place rank in series standings from sixth… In 2015, he started sixth and struggled with the handling of the rear of the race car for the majority of the race and the field also dealt with tire management. He was in sixth place with 9 laps to go when Sebastien Bourdais hit him from behind and he dropped to 19th. Bourdais was penalized for “avoidable contact” and had to serve a drive through but the incident dropped Rahal from a third-place series standing to fourth and he finished the race in 18th place… In 2014, he avoided a multi-car collision on the start in Sonoma and moved from his 14th place qualifying position to 12th. He pit out of sequence on Lap 8 and climbed up to run fourth before his second stop where he pit under caution with Sato and Conway, but those two topped off two additional times before green conditions which helped them later. Rahal climbed back into fourth when the majority of the field pitted during a caution for Saavedra and later passed Briscoe, Kanaan and Conway to take the lead on Lap 64 of 85 which he held until Lap 81 when he had to pit for 2.2 gallons of fuel. Due to extreme fuel conservation, the fuel setting he had been running in didn’t have Pit Lane Speed control and he was given a drive through penalty for speeding when he entered the pits for his splash of fuel and served it on Lap 84 of 85 which ultimately resulted in a 20th place finish… Rahal qualified eighth in 2013, ran as high as sixth but contact while in the middle of a three-wide situation dropped him to the back and he rallied to finish 11th… He qualified 15th for SCCGR in 2012, started 13th after grid penalties were served and finished fifth… He qualified 13th for SCCGR in 2011 and finished eighth. In 2010, he qualified 16th with NHR and finished 9th. Made the final Firestone Fast Six in qualifying six times in the seven road/street races in 2009 and started sixth in Sonoma for NHLR. Contact on the opening lap with Marco Andretti forced an early stop for a new front wing but his drive shaft broke when he attempted to leave the pits. After the car was repaired in the garage area, he returned to the track many laps down in 21st position and ultimately retired in the same place after completing 30 of the 75 laps… He started 15th and finished 8th here in 2008 with NHLR… His top finishes this season are wins in Dual 1 and Dual 2 in Detroit and top start is pole for Detroit Dual 1…Rahal moved from seventh to sixth in season-ending point standings with a total of 522. He was 122 points behind champion Josef Newgarden (644), 105 behind second place Simon Pagenaud (627), 99 behind third place Scott Dixon (621), 76 behind fourth place Helio Castroneves (598), and 40 behind fifth place Will Power (562).