Sato Earned His Best Start at Road America of Seventh Place for the KOHLER Grand Prix; Rahal to Start Ninth

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America
Verizon IndyCar Series


1)         Josef Newgarden      1:43.2026 / 140.020 mph       (Group 2, Round 3)

7)         Takuma Sato             1:43.1108 / 140.144 mph       (Group 2, Round 2)

9)         Graham Rahal           1:43.1874 / 140.040 mph       (Group 2, Round 2)

GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 GEHL Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “We wanted to be further up and get the GEHL Honda in the top-six. We’ve started in the top six every year, but there was nothing more in the car today. For maybe the first time this year I’m confident saying that; there was nothing more. We only lacked one-tenth (of a second) over four miles from fourth (place) but that’s what Indy car racing is now. Yeah we qualified ninth but when you think that a tenth of a second over four plus miles can move you five spots, it’s crazy but that’s the reality of Indy car.  We’ve just got to try to find a little more improvements for tomorrow, make the car a little more consistent for the race and hopefully we can go out there and attack.  I think a lot of people have a lot of questions for the race. There is no warm-up this year so we’ll see how it goes.”

  • FAST FACTS: Will be his 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. He is currently ranked sixth in series point standings with 250 points.  He trails leader Scott Dixon by 107 (357) and fifth place Josef Newgarden by 39 (289). 

TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “It was definitely a good day.  The entire team worked extremely well. The 30 boys always have but it is great to give them back a nice position in qualifying.  We were just four hundredths (of a second) off from the top six (in Round 2) and that shows how competitive the field is. I’m extremely happy to start seventh, which is the best position here so far. It’s a long race. We believe we have a strong car for the race so I’m looking forward to having a strong result.”

  • FAST FACTS: Earned his best start here of seventh place today… In his two previous races here his previous 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… 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 is ranked 13th in series point standings with 169.

RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT ROAD AMERICA … The 2018 KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America will mark the 15th time for the team 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). 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.

NEXT UP:  The KOHLER Grand Prix will be televised live on NBCSN beginning at 12:30 PM ET Sunday, June 24.  The field will take the Green Flag at 1:12 PM ET.