Rahal and Sato to Start the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama 18th and 19th Respectively

Rahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama
Round 1 of 17 in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES
QUALIFYING NOTES/QUOTES – Saturday, April 17, 2021


1)         Pato O’Ward              1:05.8479 / 125.744 mph       (Group 2, Round 3)
18)       Graham Rahal           1:06.8489 / 123.861 mph       (Group 2, Round 1)  
19)       Takuma Sato             1:07.1026 / 123.393 mph       (Group 1, Round 1)

GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Code 3 Associates Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “Qualifying is in the books here in Alabama for the first race of the year. I’m disappointed obviously for Code 3 Associates and all of our partners. It’s not the performance that we expect of ourselves and of our organization. Honestly. I’m baffled. I think everybody here is a little bit baffled. We had a great test here. Everybody is confused at the performance side of it but we’re going to put our heads down tonight and try to improve. We had a great test here. We were faster than the majority of these guys and we can’t seem to back it up on the weekend but hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.”

  • FAST FACTS: Rahal will make his 11th start here from 18th place… His best start here is second place in 2019 to bring the team a 1-2 start… He played a major factor in the most exciting races of the 2015 and 2016 seasons as he challenged for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama win but earned his best finish here of second place both times… 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.

TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 Panasonic / Shield Cleansers Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “Qualifying for the first race is not what we wanted. We struggled a lot. Since 2019 the track changed in a good way, of course. It’s a lot faster. Its demanding in a different way and we lost the speed, relatively so my Panasonic / Shield Cleansers car was unfortunately P20 in qualifying but we will find some speed.  We will still have warmup before the race and hopefully we can find some speed and have a good result for the weekend..”

  • FAST FACTS: He will make his 11th start here from 19th place… His best start and finish here is first place in 2019 when he led 74/90 en route to victory.  Has SIX INDYCAR SERIES wins (2013 – Long Beach street course, 2017 – Indy 500 oval, 2018 – Portland road, 2019 – Barber road, St. Louis short oval, 2020 – Indianapolis 500) 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).

RLL AT BARBER: In 2019, the team qualified 1-2 for the 2019 race here, which was the first time the team locked out the front row of an Indy car race since the September 11, 2005 race at Chicagoland when Danica Patrick won pole and Buddy Rice started second. Sato led 74 of 90 laps en route to victory. The 2021 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will mark the ninth INDYCAR SERIES race for the team at Barber Motorsports Park (BMP).

NEXT UP:  Pre-race warmup will take place tomorrow from 10:30 – 11 a.m. CT.  The Honda Grand Prix of Alabama will be televised on NBC from 3:00-6:00 PM ET Sunday, April 18.