Rahal and Sato Return to Road America for the KOHLER Grand Prix

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Pre-Race Notes
KOHLER Grand Prix – Road America
Round 10 of 17 in the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series

DATE:                                      June 22–24, 2018

PRACTICE BROADCASTS:       Live on www.Indycar.com with analysis from the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio

Network (AAPIRN) and on the INDYCAR YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/indycar)

on Friday beginning at 12 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. ET and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET. Also on the INDYCAR 18 app. 

QUALIFYING BROADCAST:      Tape delayed on NBCSN, SaturdayJune 23 beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET.  Live on the AAPIRN,

the INDYCAR18 app and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis)

RACE BROADCAST:                 Live on NBCSN, Sunday, June 24 beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET and on the INDYCAR 18

app.  The race will also air live on the AAPIRN, Sirius 214, XM 209 and www.indycar.com

TRACK LAYOUT:                      4.048-mile, 14-turn permanent road course

RACE LENGTH:                        55 laps / 222.6 miles

2017 WINNER:                          Scott Dixon

2017 POLESITTER:                  Helio Castroneves (1:41.3007 / 142.649 mph)

RAHAL’S BEST ROAD AMERICA START/FINISH:         4th in 2007 with NHLR / 3rd in 2007 & 2016; will be his 4th Indy car race here & 8th overall

RAHAL’S HIGHEST SERIES START/FINISH:                         Pole at St. Pete (street) 2009, Kansas (oval) 2009, Detroit Race 1 (street) 2017 / 1st in St. Pete in 2008, Fontana & Mid-Ohio 2015, Texas 2016, Detroit Race 1 & Race 2 2017

SATO’S BEST ROAD AMERICA START/FINISH:         15th in 2016 / 17th in 2016 – both with Foyt; will be 3rd race here

SATO’S HIGHEST SERIES START/FINISH:                         Pole at Iowa (oval) 2011, Edmonton (street) 2011, Houston Race 1 (street) 2013, St. Pete (street) 2014, Detroit Dual 2 (street) 2014, Detroit Dual 2 2017, Pocono (oval) 2017 / 1st in Long Beach (2013), Indianapolis 500 (2017)

RLL’S BEST START/FINISH AT ROAD AMERICA:                 1st – Kenny Brack (2001) / 2nd – Bobby Rahal (1996); 15th race here



The 2018 KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America will mark the 15th time for Rahal Letterman Lanigan (RLL) Racing to compete in an Indy car race here and third since 2003.  The team competed in CART and Champ Car-sanctioned races here from 1992-2003 and again since 2016 with a best starting position of pole by Kenny Brack in 2001 and best finish of second place by Bobby Rahal in 1996. The team has earned a total of five podium finishes here (2nd – B. Rahal 1996; 3rd – B. Rahal 1992-1993, Kenny Brack 2000, Graham Rahal 2016).

Prior to 2018, the team prepared a total of 24 Indy car 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), Jimmy Vasser (2002), Michel Jourdain (2002-2003) and Graham Rahal (2016-2017).  The No. 15 GEHL Honda entry for Graham Rahal and the No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda entry for Takuma Sato will bring that total to 26 in 2018.  The team has also competed in ALMS and IMSA-sanctioned races here under the name BMW Team RLL since 2009 and has three wins (2009, 2010, 2012), three poles (2009, 2011, 2014) and a total of eight podium finishes here.


The KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America will be Graham Rahal’s eighth race here and fourth in a Champ or Indy car.  In 2007 and 2016 here, he finished third and was eighth in 2017.  Last year, Rahal started sixth in the 55-lap race and jumped to fourth on the start past Pagenaud and Dixon.  Dixon regained the spot but INDYCAR determined that Rahal had blocked Dixon so he had to give up one spot and moved back to sixth on Lap 2.  After a handful of laps, Rahal knew the team would need to go with a four stop strategy rather than a three-stop. After stops on Laps 7, 19, 29 and 42 he was running 13th.  A Lap 45 full course caution for Kanaan’s crash bunched the field and moved Rahal into 12th. Once the race restarted on Lap 47, he got by Aleshin, Chilton and later Rossi who made contact with another car on Lap 49. On Lap 53 he took over eighth place when seventh place Hunter-Reay made contact with another car and took the checkered flag in that spot.  In 2016, Rahal not only returned to the track to race for the first time in nine years (2007), he also returned to the podium.  He progressed to the Fast Six in qualifying and started sixth.  He passed Helio Castroneves on the opening lap for fifth place and on Lap 6 of 50, he moved into fourth when second-place runner Dixon had engine issues. On Lap 7 he passed series points leader Simon Pagenaud for third place and held the position until he took the lead before his first stop on Lap 13.  He leapfrogged Kanaan for second place when he returned to the track ahead of Kanaan but the Brazilian was able to get back by on hot tires compared to Rahal’s cold tires.  He moved into second when Kanaan made his second stop before Rahal made his on Lap 26. The same scenario happened and Rahal beat him on track but was passed by Kanaan right after due to being on cold tires.  He was on scuffed red tires and Pagenaud was able to pass him for third on Lap 34 with the help of Push to Pass.  He made his third stop on Lap 39 and he was unable to get back on track ahead of Kanaan but got ahead of Helio Castroneves for fourth. On the restart from Conor Daly’s crash, he held fourth but was able to pass Pagenaud for third on Lap 46 of 50. He held the position and finished third… He finished third in the 2007 Champ Car race after starting fourth with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing…  An electrical failure in the season-finale Atlantic Championship race in 2006 at Road America after starting third led to a runner-up finish in the title fight with eventual champion Simon Pagenaud after he retired in 20th place…  Rahal also competed in two Formula BMW events here in 2004 and once in Star Mazda in 2005.

“I just love going to Road America. I have spent a ton of time there in my lifetime, and just find it to be the best track in this country. I am excited to join my dad and all of my family up there this weekend to enjoy the races just like we always have done growing up!  I have always enjoyed the race there and I think that’s why I have had some success. Having said that, a win would mean a ton to me. I would love to get it for my GEHL team this weekend!  With GEHL and Manitowoc being so close by, it’s a huge race weekend for us too.”


The 2018 KOHLER Grand Prix will be Takuma Sato’s third race at the four-mile, 14-turn course. His best start and finish came in 2016 with A.J. Foyt Racing when he started 15th and jumped up to eighth early in the race before an electrical issue limited his finish to 17th place.  Last year he started 20th and finished 19th with Andretti Autosport. He enjoys the many challenges the course provides to Indy car drivers.

“Road America has a couple of ultra, high-speed corners like the carousel, kink and unsighted Bill Mitchell bend. They are definitely some of the most challenging corners. The track flows so well and has a combination of a tight bend with a long straight followed by big braking areas that makes a great overtaking opportunity so the racing is always an exciting one there.  That’s one of my favorite parts and the fans are so enthusiastic!  Driving this fast track is just huge fun.  Road America is a beautiful, great race course.”


Last Wednesday, June 13, Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato tested at Road America. Other fulltime drivers who joined them included James Hinchcliffe, Robert Wickens and Matheus Leist. Both believe it provided a good baseline to start from on Friday at Road America.

“The test went well in the end,” said Rahal. “We didn’t start off the best, but I do think we found a few things that can really help us as we go forward. I am excited for this aero package on a long track like Road America. I think the passing will be great, the cars will look awesome and will be fast!”

“I think the test went well,” added Sato. “It was a little confusing as there were two specs of tires and the differences of each were more than expected but we were able to cover multiple setups and found a good direction.  There were not enough teams to directly compare ourselves to at the test but we made a good progress so I believe we should be competitive at Road America.”


Heading into Round 10 of 17 at the KOHLER Grand Prix, Rahal has a total of 250 points and is ranked sixth overall.  He trails leader Scott Dixon by 107 (357) and fifth place Josef Newgarden by 39 (289).  Takuma Sato is 13th with 169.

 “I have high hopes for the next eight races,” said Rahal. “We have had a solid start to the season, but no wins. We need wins, we need podiums, and I hope we can make that happen here very soon.”