Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
NTT IndyCar Series
RACE NOTES/QUOTES – August 24, 2019
SATO DROVE TO HIS FIFTH SERIES VICTORY AFTER BEING A LAP DOWN IN THE BOMMARITO AUTOMOTIVE GROUP 500; RAHAL RETIRED AFTER AN EXHAUST SECONDARY FAILURE
GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Mi-Jack Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “I’m disappointed. Actually the car wasn’t that bad. We just had a couple of set of tires that vibrated unbelievably bad. It’s frustrating. As a team, we need to get a little bit of luck on our side. The guys are working incredibly hard but we’re not seeing the fruits of our labor and it’s disappointing. I feel bad for them. Congrats to Takuma and the No. 30 guys on their win.”
- FAST FACTS: Was his third race at the track. He qualified 16th and struggled with tire wear for a good portion of the race like many others but was running ninth late in the race before losing two positions to run 11th. While 11th, he reported a problem on Lap 224 of 248 and ultimately retired after 226 laps in 18th place. A post race inspection shoed that his exhaust secondary failed…. His highest start her 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 dropped from seventh to eighth in series point standings with a total of 346.
TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “I just can’t find the words to thank everyone for all the support. It was special, particularly after the difficult circumstances. To come here, have a strong qualifying, which I was really proud of the team. It was a difficult start. I was sandwiched, then went backwards. It was difficult to get away the first stint. We kept our heads down, did our job, believed in ourselves, take the moment for the chance to come back. We came back. We had a lot of good pace over the next two stints and stretched the fuel to what we needed. Yeah, the yellow came in. Of course, some luck maybe happened. I think this is the whole effort of the team completely behind me, the support. I’m so happy to bring the car to the win for them. I’m very, very happy. On the last restart, perhaps it was really slow but consistent speed obviously. I had to take all the advantage just to control the pack. After that we just drove away beautifully, I would say. Excitement for the race, tire degradation. Tony and I had similar difficulty for the last 20 laps where Ed seems to be hooking up very, very good speed. It was tough for the last five laps. I just wanted to bring the car home, which we did. (On whether this win was the most gratifying of his career other than the Indy 500:) Yes. I’m sure. To win from pole at Barber was very significant. Just the domination of the weekend is always great credit for the team, and satisfaction. But this win is so special, like you said, beside Indy 500, obviously nothing like it. This is just so emotional. Gave me unbelievable boost. The next two races are going to be exciting. For sure the championship going to be very exciting. Hopefully I can climb a few positions up towards the end of the season. It is just unbelievable support from the team. I’m so happy. So proud to be a part of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.”
- FAST FACTS: Started fifth, his highest qualifying at the track. He made a conservative start and found himself in the middle of a three-wide group on the opening lap which led to slight contact with Hunter-Reay and him dropping back to 13th by the end of that lap. Ultimately he dropped to last place after being the first to make a pit stop on Lap 44 of 248 but never gave up. The team took advantage of an off-sequence pit strategy and the timing of two caution flags when they were scheduled to pit to lead the last 61 laps and hold off Ed Carpenter by. 0.0399 of a second. A pivitol moment came when Sato cycled to the lead on Lap 188 after others pit and on Lap 190 Bourdais crashed and brought out a caution. As others who had recently pit were now a lap down, he, Kanaan, Carpenter and Newgarden were able to pit and maintain their top-four positions with Sato remaining in the lead. After the restart on 205, he was able to build a comfortable lead over Kanaan but with four laps to go Carpenter passed Kanaan and began to close on Sato, who was able to hold him off until the checkered flag and take his second win of the season and fifth in his career… Was 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 and tonight at St. Louis… Has FIVE IndyCar Series wins (2013 – Long Beach street course, 2017 – Indy 500 oval, 2018 – Portland road, 2019 – Barber road, St. Louis short oval) 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 moved from eighth in the series point standings to sixth with a total of 382 points.
FIRST WIN FOR RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT WWT RACEWAY… The 2019 Bommarito Automotive Group 500 marked the third open wheel race at the track since 2003 and was 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 previous 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).
NEXT UP: Takuma Sato returns to Portland Raceway as the defending winner AND most recent winner in the NTT IndyCar Series after he earned his first road course win there last season. The Portland Grand Prix will take place on Sunday, September 1.