Sato and Rahal Qualified Fourth and Seventh for Saturday Night’s Iowa 300 at Iowa Speedway

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Iowa 300 – Iowa Speedway
NTT IndyCar Series
QUALIFYING NOTES/QUOTES – Friday, July 19, 2019


POLE: Simon Pagenaud          2-lap avg. speed of 180.073 mph           (L1: 17.8476, L2: 17.8979)
4th:      Takuma Sato                2-lap avg. speed of 177.646 mph           (L1: 17.9605, L2: 18.2733)
7th:      Graham Rahal              2-lap avg. speed of 175.857 mph           (L1: 18.3540, L2: 18.2484)

GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 One Cure Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “Practice didn’t go great and you could see that by the lap times. Qualifying was good, I thought we did a good, solid job. The car had a lot of understeer but compared to practice, I’ll take it.  The One Cure car seemed to have pace; we’ve just got to refine that. And in 175-degree temps, it’s hard to refine.  Now we move on to final practice in race time conditions and we’ll see what we’ve got.”

  • FAST FACTS: Will be his 12th race here. He has earned eight top-10 finishes in 11 starts with his best being fourth in 2015.  In 2018, he qualified 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 two 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 loose 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. 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. After his stop, he maintained a position around 11th place. He was a lap down but got waved around during the caution period for Hunter-Reay (L109-127) and made a stop at the end of that caution and gained four spots to run eighth. He had previously reported a vibration before that stop and repeated the assessment around Lap 168.  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. It was his ninth race here… 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 qualified 16th and finished 10th with NHLR… 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… Rahal is ranked eighth in series point standings with a total of 266. Leader Josef Newgarden has 434, second place Alexander Rossi has 430, third place Simon Pagenaud has 395, fourth place Scott Dixon has 348 and fifth place Will Power has 306.

TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “The first lap was pretty good but unfortunately on the second lap I had a huge wash out in Turn 2 and had to lift. Considering we had a difficult practice this morning I think the team did a great job.  Iowa is always special for me since I got my first pole position here. There is no rest here. The whole way, all 300 laps, is just very exciting and a hard battle. We had a good race last year and there is no reason why we can repeat that this year.”

  • FAST FACTS: Earned his fourth top-10 start at Iowa Speedway with 10th place today in nine attempts… 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 FOUR IndyCar Series wins (2013 – Long Beach street course, 2017 – Indy 500 oval, 2018 – Portland road, 2019 – Barber road) and NINE 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; 2019 Barber, Texas oval).  He is ranked sixth in the series point standings with 301 points.

RLL AT IOWA: The Iowa 300 will mark the 10th event for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) at Iowa Speedway.  The best finish for the team is third in 2018 by Takuma Sato and 2007 by Scott Sharp who also earned the top start for the team of fourth the same year.  Prior to the 2019 event, the team prepared a total of 12 entries for drivers Scott Sharp (2007), Jeff Simmons (2007), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2008), Takuma Sato (2012, 2018) Graham Rahal (2013-2018) and James Jakes (2013). The team has earned two podiums (3rd –  Sharp 2007, Sato 2018) and seven, top-10 finishes at the track.

NEXT UP: Final practice will take place tonight from 6:00-7:00 p.m. CT.  The Iowa 300 will take the Green Flag at 7:15 p.m. ET.  NBCSN will begin live coverage of the race at 7 p.m. ET.  Timing and Scoring information is available for all sessions from and includes commentary by the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.