Sato Returns to Bommarito 500 as Defending Winner and Two-Time Indy 500 Champion; Rahal Aims to Continue Competitive Season at Doubleheader

Takuma Sato, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Bommarito Automotive Group 500’s – World Wide Technology Raceway, Madison, Illinois
Pre-Race Notes
Round 8 and 9 of 14 in the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES

DATE: August 28-30, 2020

PRACTICE BROADCASTS: Live on INDYCAR Pass, the direct-to-consumer streaming product from NBC Sports Gold, on Friday from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET. Also live on the INDYCAR Radio Network (IRN) and (timing & scoring + live analysis).

QUALIFYING BROADCAST: Live on INDYCAR Pass, the IRN and (timing & scoring + live analysis) from 12-1 p.m. ET Saturday. NOTE: The first timed lap of qualifying will set the starting grid for Race 1 and the second timed lap will set the starting grid for Race 2 on Sunday.

RACE BROADCAST: Live Saturday, August 29 and Sunday, August 30 from 3-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN, INDYCAR Pass and the IRN. Coverage will also air on Sirius 211 and XM 205.

TRACK LAYOUT: 1.25-mile oval
RACE LENGTH: 200 laps / 250 miles

2019 WINNER: Takuma Sato
2019 POLESITTER: Josef Newgarden (2-lap avg. speed of 186.508 mph)

RAHAL’S BEST OVAL START / FINISH: Pole (Kansas 2009) / 1st (Fontana 2015, 500-miles; Texas 2016)
RAHAL’S BEST WWTR START/FINISH: 7th / 10th – both in 2018; will be his 4th race here
START / FINISH: 3 Poles – St. Pete (street) 2009, Kansas (oval) 2009, Detroit (street) 2017 / 6 Wins – St. Pete 2008, Fontana (oval; 500 miles) 2015, Mid-Ohio (road) 2015, Texas (oval) 2016; Detroit Race 1 2017, Detroit Race 2 2017

SATO’S BEST OVAL START / FINISH: Pole (Pocono 2017; Texas 2019) / 1st (Indy 500 2017, WWTR 2019, Indy 500 2020)
SATO’S BEST WWTR START / FINISH: 5th / 1st – both in 2019; will be his 4th 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 / 6 Wins – Long Beach (2013), Indy 500 (2017), Portland (road) 2018, Barber 2019, Gateway (oval) 2019, Indy 500 (2020)

RLL’S BEST START / FINISH AT WWTR: 2nd in 2003 by Kenny Brack / 1st in 2019 by Takuma Sato – 8 races (1997-2000, 2003, 2017-2019)


The team returns to the 2020 Bommarito Automotive Group 500’s as the defending winner after Takuma Sato drove to victory here last year and is also arriving to town as the newly-crowned 2020 Indianapolis 500 champions. It will be the ninth event for the team at World Wide Technology Raceway (WWTR). 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 came last year when Takuma Sato won. Prior to 2020, the team prepared a total of 14 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 (2017-2019) and Takuma Sato (2018-2019). The No. 15 United Rentals Honda entry for Graham Rahal and No. 30 ABeam Consulting entry for Takuma Sato will bring that total to 16 in 2020.


The 2020 race will be Rahal’s fourth at the track. His highest start is seventh and highest finish is 10th – both in 2018. In 2019, 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 showed that his exhaust secondary failed. He has earned three podiums in seven races this season, contended for the win in two others and could have been a podium contender in the other two. He is looking forward to a strong race after being competitive on other ovals this season including Texas and third-place finishes at Iowa and Indianapolis.

“I feel like we should be good at St. Louis. Obviously, Takuma won there last year, and we were good last year until the exhaust cracked. We’ve just got to keep working on our short oval cars. We were strong in Iowa but how much of that we can take and apply at St. Louis is the question. But I hope and I expect us to be pretty strong. I feel like the 15 team has done an amazing job this year. We have been the most consistent of our cars this year and I just feel like our guys deserve a win so hopefully we can break through here and make it happen. The pit stops have been amazing as has car preparation and everything else. We’ve got to stay confident and got to keep working hard and I think it will come.”

With his win in Sunday’s 104th Indianapolis 500, Takuma Sato became the only active, fulltime NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver to have won two Indy 500 races. Coupled with that, he returns to WWTR as the defending winner of the race after he led the final 61 laps en route to victory at WWTR last year. This will be Takuma’s fourth race here. His highest start and finish came last year of fifth and first, respectively. His victory last year was special for many reasons.

“Last year’s race was a special one. St. Louis is a great track. It’s quite challenging. Turn 1 and 2 and Turns 3 and 4 have quite different characteristics and that makes for great fun for all of us. Last year it was such a special moment. We had a difficult week the week before and leading up to the event was a tough situation, but I was so pleased with the warm welcome at the venue. So many fans came up to me and cheered us on. What an amazing race result with the win. Even though it was midnight, so many fans remained for the podium. Once again, a great strategy worked, and the No. 30 team was extremely strong. I was very proud of that moment. It is good to return to defend our win after having just won the Indy 500 for a second time.
“There are a lot of things related to other ovals we have raced on that may help at St Louis. This year, the mechanical aspect of the car is a bit different with the aeroscreen which is putting more emphasis on the outside right front tires. At Iowa we showed a great performance, won at Indy on the speedway, Graham was very competitive at Texas and of course we were competitive at St. Louis last year too. We have a good baseline and I believe we can be competitive once again. Giving the fans two nights of fun is good.”

After top-three finishes in the double-points paying Indy 500, Rahal is fourth in series point standings with a total of 214 and is only 37 points out of second place Newgarden, 251. Takuma Sato jumped from 17th to sixth with 207.
“I’m excited about the opportunity for the championship,” said Rahal. “I feel like we’re in a really good spot in fourth and we’ve got some bright days ahead. We’ve had a really consistent year. I wish we hadn’t wasted some of the opportunities we had at Road America and Texas because we’d surely be even further up in the hunt but we’re excited about what we’ve got and I hope we can continue to have a great run to the finish line in both races this weekend. It will be great to have fans back in the stands at World Wide Technology Raceway. We anticipate a great weekend of racing with the doubleheader. Hopefully everyone will come out and have some fun.”