Sato Earned His Best Finish of the Season of Fifth in Dual 1 in Detroit; Rahal Led But Contact After His Final Stop Kept Him From a Probable Top Three Finish

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix
Verizon IndyCar Series
RACE NOTES/QUOTES – June 2, 2018


GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 United Rentals Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “I’m okay. It was about the worst hit you could take around here. I think the car did its job. Obviously we were going to finish third, at worst, and it looks like a lot of our competitors are struggling today.  I’m disappointed in myself. We’ve got to go back and look at what happened. I just lost it before I even really turned in. I don’t really know what happened. It was shaping up pretty good for the United Rentals team so it’s disappointing. We were the only ones that were bold enough to do it (start with primary tires) but it put us in a good spot in the race and then we could manage the pace from there.  On the red (tire) was certainly ugly for me. It was a handful to hang on there.  But it was my out lap on the last set there when I lost it and I’m not really sure what happened. It was feeling okay. We just decided to try something different, get off strategy there and it worked. In my head I had it all played out where I felt like if I could start on blacks, I could hold off others the first few laps that I could make my way through the guys and it worked out.”

  • FAST FACTS: He started from eighth on primary Firestone tires while the rest of the field choose the faster, but less durable, red stripped alternate tires.  He passed Will Power on the start for seventh.  He passed Hunter-Reay for sixth and then took over fifth when Wickens elected for a three-stop strategy and made his stop by Lap 9/70.  On Lap 12, he passed teammate Takuma Sato for fourth.  When Rossi and pole sitter and leader Andretti pit on Laps 22 and 23, he took over the lead for two laps before making his first stop on Lap 25 for alternate tires and fuel.  He was able to gain positions and ground while on the primary tires and now switched focus to keeping that ground while doing one stint on the alternates after returning to the track in third place.  He moved into second when Hunter-Reay made his stop on Lap 32 and returned to the track behind Rahal.  His comfortable gap to Hunter-Reay gradually evaporated as the stint wore on and Rahal was able to keep him behind while in second place through a couple of passing attempts before his final stop on Lap 45.  On his out-lap he lost control of the race car between Turns 13-14 and made hard contact with the wall.  He retired in 23rd place in his 12th race here… Last year Rahal was either first or second in every on-track session including qualifying and each race.  In Dual 1 last year, Rahal earned his first pole since Kansas 2009 and led a dominating 55 of 70 laps en route to his fifth series victory and first ever from pole.  He handily held the lead with the exception of pit cycles and built a gap of more than 13 seconds at one point before he ultimately won by a six-second margin over Scott Dixon.  For Dual 2, Rahal set the second fastest time in his qualifying group 2 to Sato to start third.  In the race, he passed Hunter-Reay on Lap 8 and closed the gap to pole sitter and leader Sato but could not pass. Sato pit one lap earlier than Rahal, who took the lead on Lap 23 before he made his first of two stops on Lap 24 and returned to the track behind Newgarden who was on a three-stop strategy. Once Newgarden pit on Lap 29, Rahal took over the lead and steadily built his gap to second place to 16 seconds over Sato before his second and final stop on Lap 47.  He then proceeded to build an 18 second gap over second place before he caught traffic.  That reduced his lead to new second place runner Newgarden to 5.5 seconds before a red flag came out for the car of Pigot, who experienced a smoky end. All race cars were stopped in pit lane for approximately 10 minutes while the track was cleared and an attempt to remove marbles was made.  The race resumed with a two lap shootout and Rahal utilized his 57 seconds of Push to Pass over Newgarden’s 36 to keep the lead on the restart before he was able to pull a slight gap before the checkered flag to become the first winner of both races in Detroit.  In total, he led 41 of 70 laps.  His other podiums in the race came in 2014 with second place in Dual 1 and third place in Dual 2 in 2015.  Overall, he has two wins, four podiums and one pole in 11 races here… Has SIX IndyCar Series wins (2008 – St. Pete street course; 2015 – Fontana Super Speedway, Mid-Ohio road course; 2016 – Texas Super Speedway; 2017 Detroit Race 1, Detroit Race 2) and THREE poles (2009 – St. Pete street course, Kansas oval; 2017 – Detroit Race 1 street) and his highest series season-ending standing is fourth place in 2015… He dropped from sixth to seventh in series point standings with a total of 191 points, only 36 behind fifth place Ryan Hunter-Reay.

TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 Fifth Third Bank Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “It wasn’t the best day for us but at least it was a solid result. After last year’s result for the team, obviously we had high expectations but we struggled a little bit and had a technical issue on the first day and I think we came back really strong. The track is now nicely rubbered down. We can expect to have quite a competitive qualifying tomorrow and hopefully we have a good car.”

  • FAST FACTS: He started seventh and passed Will Power on the opening lap for sixth.  He passed Hunter-Reay for fifth and then took over fourth when Wickens chose a three-stop-strategy and pit. Teammate Rahal, who was on the primary tires while the rest of the field were on alternates, passed him for position. He made his first stop from fifth place and returned to the track in 13th. He cycled up to ninth by Lap 26 and into seventh on Lap 29.  He made his last stop on Lap 45 and returned to the track in seventh but moved up to sixth when Rahal made contact.  He passed Ed Jones on the restart and held fifth place until the checkered flag for his best finish of the season. The 2018 races will be Takuma’s 12th and 13th here.  In his 11 previous races, his best start is two poles (2014 with A.J. Foyt Racing, 2017 with Andretti Autosport), best finish is second in 2015 with AFR and he has led a total of 44 laps in three races.  He started in the top-five in four of 11 races and earned two, top-five and four, top-10 finishes. Last year, he qualified third for Dual 1 and finished eighth and won pole for Dual 2 and finished fourth for Andretti Autosport after leading 22 laps.  And in his previous race with RLL here in 2012, he qualified 12th and retired in 20th after contact… Has TWO IndyCar Series wins (2013 – Long Beach street course, 2017 – Indy 500 oval) and SEVEN poles (2011 Iowa oval, Edmonton street; 2013 Houston Race 1 street; 2014 St. Pete street, Detroit Race 2 street; 2017 Detroit Race 2, Pocono oval).  He moved from 15th to 12 in series point standings with 130 points.

RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT DETROIT … This will be RLL’s 19th year to compete at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park and the team’s 24th and 25th races. The team’s highest start of pole came last year in Dual 1 with Graham Rahal earning his first pole since 2009Bobby and Graham Rahal have earned a combined total of three wins for the team here. Bobby won the inaugural race in 1992 and Graham won both races here last year. In total, the team has earned seven podiums (2nd – G. Rahal 2014, Jakes 2013 & Max Papis 2000), (3rd – G. Rahal 2015) nine top-five finishes and 16 top-10’s here (chart available). Prior to 2018, the team prepared a total of 28 entries for drivers such as Bobby Rahal (1992-1998), Mike Groff (1993-94), Raul Boesel (1995), Bryan Herta (1996-99), Max Papis (1999-2001), Kenny Brack (2000-01), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2007-08) Takuma Sato (2012), Graham Rahal (2013-2017), James Jakes (2013) and Oriol Servia (2017).

NEXT UP:  Qualifying for Dual 2 will take place tomorrow from 10:45-11:15 a.m. ET and the 70 lap Dual 1 will take the Green Flag at 3:50 PM.  Timing and Scoring information and live streaming video is available for all sessions from and includes live commentary by the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network. The Chevrolet Grand Prix of Detroit Dual 2 will be televised live on ABC beginning at 3:30 PM ET Sunday, June 3.