Rahal and Sato Aim to Carry Over Road Course Competitiveness in the REV Group Grand Prix at Road America Doubleheaders

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Pre-Race Notes
REV Group Grand Prix at Road America – Race 1 & 2
Rounds 3 and 4 of 14 in the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES

DATE: July 11-12, 2020

PRACTICE BROADCASTS: Live on INDYCAR Pass, the direct-to-consumer streaming product from NBC Sports Gold, on Saturday from 11:30-1 p.m. All times Eastern. Also live on the INDYCAR Radio Network (IRN) and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis).

QUALIFYING BROADCAST: Live on INDYCAR Pass, the IRN and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis) from 2:30-3 p.m. ET Saturday and 10-10:30 a.m. ET on Sunday.

RACE BROADCAST: Live Saturday, July 11 from 5-7:30 p.m. EDT on NBCSN, INDYCAR Pass and the IRN. And live Sunday, July 12 from 12-3 p.m. EDT on NBC. Coverage will also air on Sirius 216 and XM 205.

TRACK LAYOUT: 4.048-mile, 14-turn permanent road course
RACE LENGTH: 55 laps / 222.6 miles
2019 WINNER: Alexander Rossi
2019 POLESITTER: Colton Herta (1:42.9920 / 140.306 mph)

RAHAL’S BEST ROAD AMERICA START / FINISH: 4th in 2007 with NHLR / 3rd in 2007 & 2016; will be his 6th Indy car race here & 10th overall

RAHAL’S HIGHEST SERIES START / FINISH: 3 poles – Pole at St. Pete (street) 2009, Kansas (oval) 2009, Detroit Race 1 (street) 2017 / 6 wins – 1st in St. Pete in 2008, Fontana & Mid-Ohio 2015, Texas 2016, Detroit Race 1 & Race 2 2017

SATO’S BEST ROAD AMERICA START / FINISH: 6th in 2019 / 4th in 2018 – both with RLL; will be 5th race here

SATO’S HIGHEST SERIES START / FINISH: 9 Poles – 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 / 5 Wins – Long Beach (2013), Indianapolis 500 (2017), Portland (road) 2018, Barber 2019, St. Louis (oval) 2019

RLL’S BEST START / FINISH AT ROAD AMERICA: 1st – Kenny Brack (2001) / 2nd – Bobby Rahal (1996); 17th & 18th races here


The 2020 REV Group Grand Prix at Road America doubleheaders will mark the 17th and 18th times for Rahal Letterman Lanigan (RLL) Racing to compete in an Indy car race here. The team competed in CART and Champ Car-sanctioned races here from 1992-2003 and again since 2016 with a best starting position of pole by Kenny Brack in 2001 and best finish of second place by Bobby Rahal in 1996. The team has earned a total of five podium finishes here (2nd – B. Rahal 1996; 3rd – B. Rahal 1992-1993, Kenny Brack 2000, Graham Rahal 2016).

Prior to 2020, the team prepared a total of 28 Indy car entries for drivers such as Bobby Rahal (1992-1998), Mike Groff (1993-94), Raul Boesel (1995), Bryan Herta (1996-99), Max Papis (1999-2001), Kenny Brack (2000-01), Jimmy Vasser (2002), Michel Jourdain (2002-2003), Graham Rahal (2016-2019) and Takuma Sato (2018-2019). The team will enter the No. 15 TOTAL QUARTZ entry for Graham Rahal for Saturday’s race and the Fifth Third Bank entry for Sunday as well as the No. 30 Panasonic / Mi-Jack entry for Takuma Sato for both races and will bring that total to 32 in 2020. The team has also competed in ALMS and IMSA-sanctioned races here under the name BMW Team RLL since 2009 and has three wins (2009, 2010, 2012), three poles (2009, 2011, 2014) and a total of eight podium finishes here.

The REV Group Grand Prix at Road America will be Graham Rahal’s sixth and seventh Champ or Indy car race here and 10th and 11th overall. In five Champ or Indy car races here, he has two third place finishes (2007, 2016), a fourth place (2019), sixth (2018) and eighth (2017). Last year, he started fifth and passed Newgarden for fourth on the opening lap. He held the position until Lap 12 when he passed polesitter Herta for third as the rookie was struggling on used tires. He made his first stop on Lap 14 from third place and returned to the track in fifth place. Hinchcliffe had pit from sixth place two laps earlier and track position helped him move ahead of Rahal into fourth. He held fifth for the next stint and cycled into third when third and fourth-place runners Newgarden and Hinchcliffe pit one lap before. He pit on Lap 28 and returned to the track in fifth. He held the position until the next pit cycle started and he cycled into the lead on Lap 42 before he made his final stop on Lap 42/55. He was able to jump ahead of Hinchcliffe for fourth place when he returned to the track immediately ahead of the Canadian and was on cold tires to Hinchcliffe, who pit the previous lap and had hot tires. Sixth place Herta was one of a few drivers on the faster, but ultimately less durable, alternate tires and he attempted to pull alongside Hinchcliffe, who was on Rahal’s tail. Rahal was able to keep both behind and began to close the gap to third place Newgarden. He was less than a second behind, but unable to get close enough to attempt a pass before the checkered flag… Prior to his move up to Indy car racing, his battle with Simon Pagenaud for the Atlantic Championship came down to the season-finale at Road America. An electrical failure after starting third led to a runner-up finish in the title fight with eventual champion Simon Pagenaud after he retired in 20th place… Rahal also competed in two Formula BMW events here in 2004 and once in Star Mazda in 2005.
“Obviously I’m very excited to get to Road America after a strong run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I think that we proved out some great theories and improvements at IMS. I’m very proud of our engineering corps, and Takuma, Spencer and everyone that worked hard to get us where we are. I’m excited; I think we should be very strong. We’ll keep our focus on it and do the best that we can but we should be very good. We had a good race there last year and fought for a podium and I feel like we’re a little better off this year with how we came out of IMS. Not just the end result, but the performance in general, by all three cars was good so I feel good about it. I think we should be pretty strong.”

The 2020 REV Group Grand Prix will be Takuma Sato’s fifth and sixth races at the four-mile, 14-turn course. His best start and finish here came with RLL in 2018 of seventh and fourth, respectively. Last year, he started sixth and passed Newgarden on the start for fifth. Newgarden regained the spot on the next lap and seventh place Hinchliffe pulled alongside and pushed him off track in Turn 3 on Lap 3. When he got back on track, he had dropped to 12th place. He moved up to ninth by Lap 8 of 55 and made his first stop on Lap 12. He was back in 12th place by Lap 18 and held the position until his second stop on Lap 25. He ran in 12th place until his final stop on Lap 40. He returned to the track in 12th place and was able to pass Bourdais for 11th on Lap 50 and closed one second per lap on Hunter-Reay before he passed him on the final lap for a 10th place finish. In 2017, he started 20th and finished 19th with Andretti Autosport and in 2016 with A.J. Foyt Racing, he started 15th and jumped up to eighth early in the race before an electrical issue limited his finish to 17th place. Despite challenges with his race car in both qualifying at last Saturday’s race on the IMS road course, he bounced back from last place to a solid top-10 finish and is looking forward to being able to experience the potential of a strong road course setup for Road America.
“I think we are moving in a good direction with our road course setup. We haven’t done enough testing with it but we proved this road course setup had good potential at IMS. I think we are looking strong. Two road course races will be tough. I can’t imagine doing practice, qualifying and a race in one day and then the next day have qualifying and a race. I think last weekend was good training. It was a hot day and the Aeroscreen made it hotter but Road America has a longer straight so hopefully that will help us.”

“The Aeroscreen is hot; it’s a challenge,” said Rahal. “For me physically, I actually felt okay except my neck was getting very tired. But as far as my heart rate, I burned some serious calories in the race at IMS, but I actually felt good. Road America is a little easier of a track, physically, than IMS is so we’ll be alright.”
“It was hot during the race at IMS,” added Sato. “The cooling was technically working well, but the problem was that the debris and marbles were coming through the duct and broke into the helmet hose and blocked flow so we need to work on that.”

Heading into Round 3 and 4 of 14 at the REV Group Grand Prix, Rahal has a total of 54 points and is ranked fifth overall. He trails leader Scott Dixon by 50 (104) and second place Simon Pagenaud by 21 (75). Takuma Sato is 21st with 23.
“This is an important time. There are a lot of points to be had over the next two weeks. We’ve been pretty strong at Road America, we’ve been pretty strong at Iowa in the past so its definitely a good string for our team and we’re looking forward to it.”