Rahal and Sato Head to the Shortest Track on the INDYCAR Schedule — Iowa Speedway for the Iowa Corn 300

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Iowa Corn 300 – Iowa Speedway
Pre-Race Notes

Round 11 of 17 in the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series

DATE: July 7-8, 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/indycaron Saturday beginning at 11:15 a.m. and 6:45 p.m. ET. Also on the INDYCAR 18 app.

QUALIFYING BROADCAST:  NBCSN will air live coverage on Saturday, July 7 at 3:30 p.m. ET as will the (AAPIRN), the INDYCAR 18 app and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis).

RACE BROADCAST:   Live on NBCSN, Sunday, July 8 beginning at 2 p.m. ET and on the INDYCAR 18 app. The race will also air live on the AAPIRN, Sirius 217, XM 209 and www.indycar.com

TRACK LAYOUT:   0.875-mile oval

RACE LENGTH:  300 laps / 268.2 miles

2017 WINNER: Helio Castroneves

2017 POLESITTER:  Will Power (2-lap avg. speed 185.210 mph)

RAHAL’S BEST IOWA START/FINISH:  6th in 2013 / 4th in 2015

RAHAL’S HIGHEST SERIES START/FINISH: Pole at St. Pete (street) 2009, Kansas (oval) 2009, Detroit (street) 2017 / 1st in St. Petein 2008, Fontana (oval; 500 miles) 2015, Mid-Ohio (road) 2015, Texas (oval) 2016; Detroit Race 1 (street) 2017, Detroit Race 2 (street) 2017

SATO’S BEST IOWA START/FINISH:  4th in with 2016 (Foyt) & 2011 (KVRT) / 5th in 2011 with KVRT; will be his 10th 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 TOP START/ FINISH AT IOWA: 4th / 3rd – both in 2007 by Scott Sharp




The Iowa Corn Indy 300 will mark the ninth event for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) at Iowa Speedway.  The best finish for the team is third in 2007 by Scott Sharp who also earned the top start for the team of fourth the same year.  Prior to the 2018 event, the team prepared a total of 10 entries for drivers Scott Sharp (2007), Jeff Simmons (2007), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2008), Takuma Sato (2012) Graham Rahal (2013-2017) and James Jakes (2013). The team has earned one podium (3rd, Sharp 2007) and five, top-10 finishes at the track.  The No. 15 Luther Automotive Group entry for Graham Rahal and the No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic entry for Takuma Sato will bring the total number of cars entered in the race to 12 in 2018.


The 2018 Iowa Corn Indy 300 will be Graham Rahal’s 11th race here. He has earned seven top-10 finishes in 10 starts with his best being fourth in 2015. In 2017, he ran fourth most of the race but finished fifth after starting 10th.  The race was halted after 200 of 300 laps for approx. 20 minutes due to light sprinkles while Rahal was fourth.  Late in the race, he lost track position due to being behind a lapped car of rookie Gutierrez and once he was able to pass, he ran out of time to move higher than fifth.  In 2016, he started 12th and was up to fifth during the pit cycle before his first pit stop on Lap 58/300. He received a wave around during the caution period for Hunter-Reay (L109-127) to get back on the lead lap before his second stop to run eighth. He had previously reported a vibration before his second stop and the problem kept appearing mid-stint and until the end of the race which forced the team to pit earlier than expected on the remaining stops and Rahal ultimately finished 16th.  Rahal earned his best finish at Iowa Speedway of fourth place in 2015 despite dropping a total of three laps down during the race.  He started 17th and was 10th when he had to pit early due to his right rear tire deflating and went two laps down to the leader. Later he got back on the lead lap and reported a shifting issue on Lap 98/300 that slowed his return to the track from his second pit stop after having to reboot and he dropped a lap down again. Later in the race, the team took advantage of a caution period to pit for fuel and new tires which would enable them to go further than the leaders on the next stint and possibly pick up a yellow that would put them back on the lead lap. While leading and with five laps to go before they were forced to pit for their last stop, Sato brought out a caution period and the team stopped for fuel and tires. Due to the reoccurring shifting issue, he had to leave the pits in sixth gear rather than first and returned to the track in eight place, and on the lead lap. The race restarted with 23 laps to go and Rahal moved from eighth place into fourth by Lap 294/300. He held his position and finished fourth but he and the team felt like they had earned a victory of sorts.  In 2014, he started 15th and stayed on the lead lap with the help of the timing of the caution periods. He made his sixth stop on a late race caution period for Montoya and returned to the track in 10th place. Once the race was restarted with six laps to go he moved up to eighth place and passed Castroneves on the final lap for seventh. He set the 19th fastest lap time in single-car qualifying in 2013 to determine that he would be in Heat Race 2. He drove to victory in Heat Race 2 after starting seventh and progressed to Heat Race 3 where he also started seventh. Contact with Ed Carpenter on Lap 16 of 50 damaged his front wing and he held on to finish ninth of 10 cars to match his best start at Iowa of ninth.  He started sixth after engine penalties were served and charged from 10th to second on his second stint. He challenged for the win and led Lap 160 until the last 20 laps where he dropped to fourth while navigating traffic and then fifth on the final lap.  In 2012 he qualified 10th, started 20th (penalty for unapproved engine change) and finished ninth with Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR). In 2011 he qualified 20th and finished 15th with SCCGR. In 2010, he qualified 17th with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, led 11 laps and finished ninth. In 2009 he qualified ninth and finished 11th with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) and in 2008 he qualified 16th and finished 10th with NHLR. He is looking forward to the first race in the new universal aero kit.

“We tried to test at Iowa Speedway in May but didn’t get to turn a lap due to the conditions. I think it will be a great race. INDYCAR always puts on a great event at Iowa Speedway and I think a lot of that is due to the track design and layout compared to other ovals.  We can use a variety of different lines and lanes and that makes it fun. I am looking forward to getting back on track with a new design that will require more lifting and possibly even braking for the race!”


In his previous eight races at Iowa Speedway, Takuma’s best start is pole in 2011 with KV Racing where he also led seven laps and his best finish is 11th place in 2016 with A.J. Foyt Racing. He has three top-10 starts including fifth place last year with Andretti Autosport where he finished 16th.

“Iowa Speedway is just non-stop cornering with usually the highest lateral G-Force loads recorded during the season. I simply like Iowa and hopefully that continues this year with the lower-downforce package which will make it even more challenging. Also there is a bump on Turn 2 which is tricky but generally it’s a fun, great track and racing there is exciting.”


“It will be a tough race. It’s a lower downforce package so it’s possibly the lowest one in recent years so I’m sure it’s going to be very challenging to follow cars. If we could run in the second lane then it will be quite exciting one but we will see.”


With seven races yet to be run — and eight races worth of points available — this season, Rahal is ranked sixth in series point standings with a total of 278 and Sato is 13th with 201.  Leader Scott Dixon has 393, second place Ryan Hunter-Reay has 348, third place Alexander Rossi also has 348, fourth place Josef Newgarden has 343 and fifth place Will Power has 328.  Rahal is looking for a win to get back into the championship fight and Sato is hoping to carry momentum from his best finish of the season of fourth place in the previous race at Road America into Iowa to improve his standing.

“I need a win and we as a team need a win,” said Rahal. “It’s that simple. To get back into the championship, top-10s seemingly aren’t allowing us to close up any ground.  We need to win, and Iowa would be a great place to do it. I have always loved racing in Iowa.  I find the track makes for a ton of fun for me and I I think we can get it done.  With a little luck, some speed and good strategy and we can make it happen.”

“It’s extremely important to carry good momentum to Iowa and I am sure we will be able to achieve another strong result. We have been a little too unlucky in many circumstance but the last race showed our speed and strength very well in a no-caution, straight-forward race so I am looking forward to have another good weekend.”


“It’s been a very competitive season.  As everyone can see, we are separated by basically nothing (lap time wise) every weekend. As a team, we need to continue to push hard to find some gains and try to close the gap on a very talented group of drivers and teams currently.”