Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Desert Diamond West Valley Casino Phoenix Grand Prix – ISM Raceway
Verizon IndyCar Series
RACE NOTES/QUOTES – Saturday, April 7, 2018
RAHAL AND SATO FINISHED 9TH AND 11TH IN THE DESERT DIAMOND WEST VALLEY CASINO PHOENIX GRAND PRIX
GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 One Cure Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “It wasn’t bad. I’m a little disappointed that we lost spots there. We were trying to go really long on our stints — which was the whole goal — and frankly it should have worked. There were a couple of times there that yellows should have come out and they didn’t and because of that we paid the price running on old tires. Strategy and history shows that that’s the best way to do it so we stuck to our plan but it didn’t quite work out today but ultimately we got a top-10 for the One Cure team and that’s a heck of a lot better than we did last year here. We will just keep our heads down and keep pounding away. We’re not bad but we need to continue improving on a day-to-day basis. We need to show up close (to the right setup) at Long Beach and we should be able to.”
- FAST FACTS: Earned his best start at the track of 12th place for his third race here and finished ninth after he led a total of seven laps during pit cycles. He started 12th but dropped to 13th on the start when rookie Kaiser charged through. He held the position until the first pit cycle started and moved up to 8th after his first stop during a caution period for Fittipaldi. When the second pit cycle started, he cycled into the lead on Lap 124 before he stopped on Lap 128. He returned to the track in 10th place and cycled back into the lead before what was expected to be his final pit stop on Lap 188/250. He was 10th when a caution came out for Ed Jones and he took the opportunity to pit for new tires on Lap 232/250. He returned to the track in ninth place and held the position through the restart and until the checkered flag… In 2017, he qualified 17th but was collected in a multi-car crash due to Aleshin’s Lap 1, Turn 1 spin and retired in 21st place. In 2016, he started 19th and passed two cars (Daly, Hawksworth) on the start and later moved into 16th when Luca Filippi had a problem. He was in 15th place when he made his first stop and the crew gained two positions in the pits. He moved into the top 10 near the halfway point of the 250-lap race and was on his “in laps” of his second and third stops when a caution period came out but was able to continue on low fuel each time until the pits opened. He ran as high as third, which is the position he was running in when he entered his pit for his third and final stop but lost a spot to Simon Pagenaud. He was passed by Tony Kanaan on Lap 223 of 250 and was in fifth place when the final caution came out for debris with a few laps to go and the race ended under yellow… Has six IndyCar Series wins (2008 – St. Pete street course; 2015 – Fontana Super Speedway, Mid-Ohio road course; 2016 – Texas oval; 2017 – Race 1 & 2 Detroit streets) and three poles (2009 – St. Pete street course, Kansas oval; 2017 – Detroit Race 1 street). His highest series season-ending standing is fourth place in 2015. He is currently ranked third in series standings with 63 points.
TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “It was a tough weekend. After we had the positive test, we came here and had a difficult time. Going into qualifying there were so many unknowns and we had to change the car so much. After that it was the same scenario in the race. I never got comfortable. It was very tough out there and in the end the strategy did not play out well. We started thirteenth and finished eleventh, so not a good weekend at all. The timing of the pit stop was key and I think we stayed out too long. When the tires started to go off, there was quite a battle. I was able to overtake a few cars. It was a frustrating night.”
- FAST FACTS: He earned his best start and finish at the track of 13th and 11th place, respectively, for his third race here. After starting 13th he dropped to 14th when rookie Kyle Kaiser charged through on the start. He held the position until the pit cycle started and after his first stop he ran in ninth. He cycled to second before he made his second stop on L126 and made what was to be his final stop on L179 from fifth but took advantage of a late caution on L232/250 to pit from 10th place for new tires. He lost a position to Pagenaud after the restart and finished 11th…. He set the fastest time in three of the four veteran sessions in the Open Test here in February as well as set the fastest time overall. In 2016, he qualified 20th and finished 15th for A.J. Foyt Enterprises and in 2017, he qualified 18th and completed 135 of 250 laps when his race ended due to contact in Turn 4 while driving for Andretti Autosport… He is currently ranked 10th in series point standings with 37 points.
NEXT UP: The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will take place next weekend and will be televised live on NBCSN at 4 p.m. ET, Sunday, April 15.