Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway
QUALIFYING NOTES/QUOTES – August 23, 2019
SATO EARNED HIS BEST START OF FIFTH PLACE FOR THE BOMMARITO AUTOMOTIVE GROUP 500; RAHAL TO START 16TH AFTER A CHALLENGING QUALIFYING SESSION
POLE: Josef Newgarden 2-lap avg. speed of 186.508 mph (L1: 24.1145, L2: 24.1409 mph)
5th: Takuma Sato 2-lap avg. speed of 185.050 mph (L1: 24.2947, L2: 24.3409 mph)
16th: Graham Rahal 2-lap avg. speed of 182.065 mph (L1: 24.7810, L2: 24.6518 mph)
GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Mi-Jack Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “I thought it (the car) was going. I got so sideways in Turn 1 (on his first qualifying lap). I thought it was gone. I sent her in there and we just didn’t have enough. Once she settled down into the bowl, she just gave up. Going into it (qualifying), I felt really good. The car was nice and stable in practice but we almost lost it in Turn 1 on that first (qualifying) lap. She went all the way around pretty much. It wasn’t as bad as Marco’s but it was close and that’s it. When you lose momentum as bad as that, it’s (qualifying run) over. It’s disappointing. We’ll just have to work our way forward.”
- FAST FACTS: Will be his third race at the track. His highest start is seventh and highest finish is 10th – both in 2018. In 2018, he started seventh in the race based on entrant points when qualifying was rained out. The race immediately went yellow for a crash by Bourdais. On the restart, he reported a big wiggle that forced him to lift and he lost three spots to run 10th. He was passed a few laps later by Veach. Once those who were on a four-stop strategy began to pit he cycled up to second place by Lap 62/248 before he made his first stop on Lap 63 on a three-stop strategy. He returned to the track in 13th and was up to P10 on Lap 114. On Lap 116, he was told he could use more fuel to pass Hinchcliffe, who had a pack backed up behind him. A driver dove past him in Turn 1 and a few cars passed him including his teammate Sato. As the next pit cycle started he moved up to second place by Lap 123 before he made his second stop on Lap 126. Other than Sato, who pit a lap later, he was looking on target for at least a podium finish if the race stayed green. He returned to the track in 15th place, took over 14th after passing Hinchcliffe, and then cycled up as others pit. He was in 11th place on Lap 172 when Hunter-Reay slowed on track right after a pit stop and brought out a caution. His three-stop strategy meant a slower pace and he had dropped a lap down. Once he was given the pass around to get back on the lead lap, he pit on Lap 181 and was now on the same strategy as the field without the advantage the previous strategy afforded. The race restarted and the team elected to try to salvage the strategy by saving fuel. He held ninth place but was passed by Ed Jones, who had pit on Lap 226 and was able to use full power without saving fuel. He held 10th place until the checkered flag. Was his second Indy car race here. In 2017, Rahal started 13th but during the pace laps, Kanaan spun and Rahal moved into 12th before the green. Once the race started, pole sitter Will Power spun and collected Carpenter and Sato to move Rahal into ninth place. He was able to stay out longer than a few cars and cycled into fifth before his first stop on Lap 61 of 248. He returned to the track in eighth place and held the position until his second stop on Lap 104 during a full course caution for JR Hildebrand. After the restart he passed Ryan Hunter-Reay for seventh on Lap 113. He held the spot until the next pit cycle approached and took over sixth place when Rossi pit before he made his third stop on Lap 158. He returned to the race in sixth place and held it through a full course caution for Chilton who spun. He passed Hinchcliffe for fifth on Lap 183 when the Canadian had to check up behind Dixon and Rahal got around him. During his fourth and final stop under caution for Hunter-Reay who hit the wall, Rahal pitted from fifth place but left the pit with the fuel probe still attached to the car. At the start of the race, telemetry showed that the fuel probe sensor wasn’t working so the team had to take extra precautions for the stops. The probe sensor ensures that the car cannot go into gear to depart until the fuel nozzle is out of the car. Race control ruled that Rahal had to go to the back of the field due to the incident and he moved back to 14th place. He passed Andretti on the restart and later passed Jones for 12th, which he held until the checkered flag… His highest start of the season is second at Barber and his highest finish is third at Texas Motor Speedway… 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 seventh in series point standings with a total of 334.
TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “After the first practice, I felt positive. We made great progress and I was able to commit in qualifying. I’m very happy for the team. They did a great job. It’s an extremely challenging track. Turns 1 and 2 and Turns 3 and 4 have very different characteristics. The car was quite loose in Turns 2 but then nearly flat out in Turns 3 and 4. It’s a fun track. I am optimistic for the race.”
- FAST FACTS: Will be his third Indy car race here. His highest previous start was sixth in 2017 and his highest finish is ninth last year. In 2018, he started 13th in the race based on entrant points due to rain canceling qualifying. The race immediately went yellow for a crash by Bourdais. On the restart, he was passed by Veach and Pigot but was back in 12th by Lap 8. Once those who were on a four-stop strategy began to pit, he cycled up to second place by Lap 62 and into the lead on Lap 63/248 before he made his first stop on Lap 64 on a three-stop strategy. He and Rahal were last to make their first stops. He returned to the track in 15th and was up to P12 on Lap 114 and 10th by Lap 117 after he passed Rahal and another. As the next pit cycle started he led the race again on Lap 124 before he made his second stop on Lap 126. He pit a lap later than anyone and was looking on target for at least a podium finish if the race stayed green. He returned to the track in 14th place, took over 13th after passing Hinchcliffe, and then cycled up as others pit. He was in 10th place on Lap 172 when Hunter-Reay slowed on track right after a pit stop and brought out a caution. His three-stop strategy meant a slower pace and he had dropped a lap down. Once he was given the pass around to get back on the lead lap, he pit on Lap 181 and was now on the same strategy as the field without the advantage the previous strategy afforded. The race restarted and the team elected to try to salvage the strategy by saving fuel. He held eighth place but was passed by Ed Jones, who had pit on Lap 226 and was able to use full power without saving fuel. He held 9th place until the checkered flag. In 2017, he qualified a strong sixth but the race went yellow when Tony Kanaan spun on the pace lap. Once the green flag flew, pole sitter Will Power lost control of his race car as did Ed Carpenter and collected Sato as he was spinning. Sato only completed six of 248 laps… His highest start of the season is pole at Barber (road) and Texas (oval) and his highest finish is his win at Barber … 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 dropped is eighth in the series point standings with a total of 331 points.
RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT GATEWAY MOTORSPORTS PARK … The 2019 Bommarito Automotive Group 500 will mark the third open wheel race at the track since 2003 and will be the eighth event for the team here. The 1.25-mile oval hosted CART-sanctioned races from 1997-2000 and IRL races from 2001-2003 before the IndyCar Series returned in 2017. The team competed in all four CART races from 1997-2000 and one of the three IRL races (2003). The best starting position for the team of second place came in 2003 by Kenny Brack and the best finish of fifth place was in 1999 by Max Papis. Prior to 2019, the team prepared a total of 12 Indy car entries for drivers such as Bobby Rahal (1997-1998), Bryan Herta (1997-1999), Max Papis (1999-2000), Kenny Brack (2000, 2003), Graham Rahal (2017-2018) and Takuma Sato (2018). The No. 15 Mi-Jack Honda entry for Graham Rahal and No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic entry for Takuma Sato will bring that total to 14 in 2018.
NEXT UP: The 248-lap Bommarito Automotive Group 500 will take the Green Flag at 8:45 p.m. ET Saturday. NBC Sports Network will begin live coverage at 8 p.m. ET.