Rahal and Sato Aim to Continue Competitiveness at TMS After a Third Place Finish and Pole Position Respectively Last Year

Rahal Letterman Lanigan RacingGenesys 300 – Texas Motor Speedway
Pre-Race Notes
Round 1 of 14 in the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES

DATE:     June 6, 2020

PRACTICE BROADCAST:     Live on INDYCAR Pass, the direct-to-consumer streaming product from NBC Sports Gold, on Saturday from 1-3:30 p.m ET.  Also live on the INDYCAR Radio Network (IRN) and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis).

QUALIFYING BROADCAST:     Live on INDYCAR Pass from 5-6 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 6. Also live on the IRN and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis).

PRE-RACE BROADCAST:     Live Saturday, June 6 beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, INDYCAR Pass and the IRN. Coverage will also air on Sirius 113 and XM 209. 

RACE BROADCAST:     Live Saturday, June 6 beginning at 8 p.m. ET on NBC, INDYCAR Pass and the IRN.  Coverage will also air on Sirius 113 and XM 209. 

TRACK LAYOUT:     1.5-mile oval
RACE LENGTH:     200 laps / 300 miles – shortened from 248 laps / 360.84 miles

2019 WINNER:     Josef Newgarden
2019 POLESITTER:     Takuma Sato (2-lap average speed of 220.250 mph)

RAHAL’S BEST TMS START/FINISH:     3rd in 2012 / 1st in 2016; will be his 13th race here
RAHAL’S HIGHEST SERIES START/FINISH:     Pole at St. Pete (street) 2009, Kansas (oval) 2009, Detroit (street) 2017 / 1st in St. Pete in 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 TMS START / FINISH:     1st in 2019 with RLL / 5th in 2011 with KVRT; will be his 12th 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, Barber (road) 2019, Texas (oval) 2019 / 1st in Long Beach (2013), Indianapolis 500 (2017), Portland (road) 2018, Barber (2019), St. Louis (2019)

RLL’S TOP START / FINISH AT TMS:     1st by Scott Sharp (2007) and Takuma Sato (2019) / 1st by Graham Rahal 2016


The Genesys 300 will mark the 18th event for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) at the 1.5-mile, high-banked Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) oval.  The team’s highest start of pole came in 2019 with Takuma Sato ad 2007 with Scott Sharp.  The highest finish of first came in 2016 with Graham Rahal. The team earned another front row start in 2004 when Buddy Rice qualified second. Overall the team has earned six top-five finishes and 11, top-10’s at the track.

Prior to the 2020 event, the team prepared a total of 25 entries for drivers such as Kenny Brack (2003 x2), Buddy Rice (2004 x2; 2005, 2006), Vitor Meira (2004 x2; 2005), Danica Patrick (2005, 2006), Jeff Simmons (2007), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2008), Jay Howard (2011, Schmidt/RLL) Takuma Sato (2012, 2018-2019), James Jakes (2013) and Graham Rahal (2013-2019).  The No. 15 Fleet Cost & Care entry for Graham Rahal and No. 30 ABeam Consulting entry for Takuma Sato will bring that total to 27 in 2020. 

In Graham Rahal’s 12 races here, his best start came in 2012 of third and best finish is his win in 2016 that still stands as the closest finish in TMS history at 0.0080 of a second. In total, he has three podium finishes, four top-five’s and six top-10s in his 12 races. Last year, he started 9th and dropped to 12 by Lap 11 but managed to go the farthest on the first stint and cycled into the lead on Lap 61 before he made his first stop on Lap 63.  He returned to the track in 9th and temporarily held 10th before the next round of stops began and he moved into eighth before his second stop on Lap 119. The team added one-half of a turn to his front wing and his race car improved. Once the round of pit stops was complete, he was running sixth by Lap 124/248. He took over fifth when Hunter-Reay made a stop on Lap 179 and into fourth when Rossi pit on Lap 187. He made his third and final stop on Lap 188 and returned to the track in 12th place behind cars that needed to make another stop. He was in eight when Hinchcliffe made contact and brought out the caution from Laps 219-225. When Hunter-Reay pit, he moved to sixth for the restart and held the position until another caution came out from Laps 229-235 for contact between Herta and Dixon that moved him into fourth. He passed Pagenaud for third on Lap 237 after the restart and held the position until the checkered flag for a podium finish and his third top-three at TMS.  He is looking forward to getting back on track at Texas.
             “I’m extremely excited for us to get back going. I think it’s really important that we get back to racing to give people something to watch and be excited for.  And really for our sponsors, our team and for the sport in general, it’s critical that we get back to work. I think the series has done an amazing job being patient, finding the right time for us to get back on track, and we’re thankful that Eddie (Gossage), Mark (Miles) and the team at Texas Motor Speedway have made this possible.”

In his 11 previous races here, Takuma has a best start of pole in 2019 and has earned three top-10 finishes with the best being fifth place in 2011 with KVRT.  After starting from pole last year, Sato had the race in hand and led the first stint by as much as two seconds over second place Dixon at one point before his first pit stop on Lap 61.  He overshot his pit and hit a crewman which led to a stop and go penalty that caused him to fall off the lead lap and into last place. He moved up from 22nd to 15th by the checkered flag.  He is looking forward to the possibility of another strong run at TMS.  
           “We are all excited to get back to racing! It’s been a challenging time all over the world but we are so fortunate to be able to go to race. It’s great for fans and everyone who supports the sport. I totally understand that we have to go with very strict procedures for safety.  Everyone needs to take care and protect people. We all do our best even without fans there. We know everyone is watching on TV and this is a very important step for moving forward. I really appreciate all the sponsors, INDYCAR, Texas Motor Speedway and everyone who was involved to make this happen. I would hope we can carry over the competitiveness from 2019, but the car is different with the Aeroscreen from last year and few other areas too and of course the conditions will be different. It’s never easy to carry competitiveness over to the next year because so many small elements could affect massively but our engineers worked very hard on preparation so I am confident that we will be in good shape.”

“We were pretty competitive in practice but with such a short practice, we needed to go through race setup and qualify simulation. It’s tough to predict but I realized on the out lap that the balance was great and I was able to commit to go really fast on Turn 1 on the green lap.  At that moment, I knew our time was competitive but didn’t really think about winning pole. It was a great to see in the end!”

“There are a lot of questions,” said Rahal.“I don’t think anybody, aside from those who have driven it on a superspeedway, which is only a few people, will have the answers. Obviously we’re going out there for the first time to run this Aeroscreen at night, in a race, and obviously in traffic as well. So we will see how it will take shape but I feel pretty good about it and I think everybody is well prepared. It’s the same for everybody, so no excuses we need to go out there and make the most of it.”
           “Honestly I have no idea how it will be,” added Sato. “Even though I heard feedback from other drivers who tested but I never drove with Aeroscreen on an oval so I hope it will go well.”

“Well it’s not just an oval, it’s Texas Motor Speedway. It’s always a crazy race, always a crazy event for everybody to be watching, but now as most of us haven’t even been in a car in four months, it’s going to make it very interesting to see how we can all perform. I expect the veterans and those with cooler and smarter heads will prevail as we go into this. But it will be interesting to see as there are a lot of questions. We will see how this entire thing is going to take shape and how this entire day is going to go. (On the mandatory stop for tires every 35 laps:) It certainly will be different to have stops every 35 laps. I think what will be interesting is to see how people utilize the tires, what they do with their fuel savings because 35 laps is only about a half of a stint. So we’ll see how it all takes shape, but also as the race is only 200 laps this year, that changes things up quite a lot as well.”

“Everything sounds very challenging but once again we all have to deal with. We will do our preparations as much as we can and see how it goes. Once again we should just be happy as we can start the season but it will be even better when you have a good race especially. It (tire strategy) will impact the race but we need to see all the aspects. Safety is the most important to whatever we have to do. We just need to follow guidelines but hopefully we can find out ourselves that it will work for us at the end of the race! I am so thankful for the support from my primary sponsor ABeam even when it’s a one-day event and during a very tough time for the any business. But they support us and that is just fantastic.”