Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Iowa Corn 300 – Iowa Speedway
Verizon IndyCar Series
RACE NOTES/QUOTES – Sunday, July 8, 2018
SATO EARNED HIS FIRST PODIUM OF THE SEASON WITH THIRD PLACE IN THE IOWA CORN 300 AFTER HE LED THREE LAPS; RAHAL FINISHED SEVENTH
GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Luther Automotive Group Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “We started out really weak. The rear of the car was not good at all so that was frustrating. We made some changes before the race and the whole idea was to help the rear but it did the polar opposite which wasn’t good. Halfway through the race the car started coming to us, the track came to us. We took some front wing out and I think on the last stint we were probably one of the quickest cars on track and I know we were catching up to the lead group but we were almost a full lap behind so we were having to come back to them. We passed (pole sitter Josef) Newgarden, (Spencer) Pigot and some others. We were legitimately good in the end but it just took us too long to get there. We went down a lap and could never fully recover.”
- FAST FACTS: Rahal started 12th and mostly ran in that position on the lead lap until Lap 35/300 when he was passed by leader Newgarden and also lost a position to run 13th. The team made some changes to hopefully help the handling of his race car when he made his first stop on L70. He moved up to 11th by L101 and was almost to laps down when the caution came out for Veach, who brushed the wall, on L139. He made his second stop under caution on L146 after being waved around and back on the lead lap. He was 10th after that stop and the last car on the lead lap. He held the position until L222 after passing Carpenter for ninth. By the time he made his third stop on L226, he had cycled up to seventh. He went a lap down when he made his stop and returned to the track in eighth place. He moved into seventh on L279/300 when Pagenaud brushed the wall and maintained it despite taking advantage of a late race caution to pit for new tires during a caution for Carpenter who got lose in Turn 2 and made slight contact with Sato. The new tires would not be needed as the race never returned to green conditions and he took the checkered flag in seventh place… Was his 11th race here. He has earned eight top-10 finishes in 11 starts with his best being fourth in 2015… Rahal relinquished sole possession of sixth place in the point standings and is now tied with Robert Wickens for sixth with a total of 304. Leader Scott Dixon has 411, second place Josef Newgarden has 378, third place Alexander Rossi also has 370, fourth place Ryan Hunter-Reay has 359 and fifth place Will Power has 358.
TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “I had great fun. The Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda was super-fast. The team did a great job. We weren’t that good in the first practice after skipping the test here last week but we came back strong. The strength in engineering is unbelievable. We lost some positions after the last stint but we came back strong. (On contact with Carpenter’s sliding car at the end:) He was obviously sliding and I was already inside him. I didn’t see it much. Suddenly he was coming inside and clipped me at the back of the car. It caught me by surprise and I obviously saved him (from crashing). Had we gone back to green for the last few laps, my car was fine. There was a mark on it but I would have gone for it for another place maybe. My car was really fast today. I want to thank Bobby (Rahal), Mike (Lanigan) and Dave (Letterman). A lot of people struggled today but we had a good car.”
- FAST FACTS: Sato passed Carpenter on the start for ninth place and ran no lower than 11th before he steadily climbed to seventh and then into sixth before his first stop on L77. He maintained sixth place once his stop was complete and passed Hunter-Reay for fifth on L105/300 and was the last car on the lead lap. He passed Pagenaud for fourth on L125 before Veach brought out a caution on L139. He made his second stop on L142 when the pits opened and maintained fourth place. He now had a bigger gap on the leader with 10 cars back on the lead lap. On L171 he passed eventual second-place finisher Pigot for third and remained ahead of him the entire stint including when he passed eventual winner Hinchcliffe for second on L213 and later took over the lead on Laps 224-226 before his third and final stop on L226. Track position dictated his return to the track in fifth place with a lot of lapped traffic between himself and the frontrunners which hindered his pursuit. He held his position until L294 when Carpenter got loose in Turn 2 and made light contact with the right rear of Sato’s car when he had nowhere to go to avoid him. He sustained light damage to his race car but didn’t think it would hinder him on the late race restart. When the pits opened on L297/300, second and third place runners Newgarden and Wickens pitted for new tires to challenge for the win on a restart but the race never went back to green conditions and Sato took the checkered flag in third place… 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… 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 13th to 12th in series point standings with 237.
RLL AT IOWA: The Iowa Corn 300 marked the ninth event for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) at Iowa Speedway. Takuma Sato matched the best finish for the team of third by Scott Sharp in 2007 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 two podiums (3rd, Sharp 2007, Sato 2018) and seven, top-10 finishes at the track with Sato’s third place and Rahal’s seventh.
NEXT UP: The Honda Indy Toronto will take place next weekend on the streets around Exhibition Place. IT is the final street race of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season. NBCSN will begin live coverage of the race at 3 p.m. ET.