Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg – QUALIFYING NOTES/QUOTES – Saturday, April 24, 2021

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
QUALIFYING NOTES/QUOTES – Saturday, April 24, 2021

#15: Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda


1)         Colton Herta              1:00.3210 / 107.425 mph       (Group 1, Round 3)
9)         Graham Rahal           1:00.5678 / 106.988 mph       (Group 2, Round 2)  
15)       Takuma Sato             1:00.9167 / 106.375 mph       (Group 1, Round 1)

GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 United Rentals Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “Starting ninth is not bad, but honestly we had a car to advance. We were actually up on Colton’s time in Q2 until Turn 9.  We lost 3/10ths (of a second) in Turn 9 and that took us from being P1 to 9th. It’s a shame. I’m actually pretty frustrated because I know that the car had it so it’s disappointing to not be able to maximize that. I just got a lot of understeer. I kind of got held up early in Q2 which didn’t let me get the tire temperatures up. I think the tires were 20 degrees cooler in that lap in Q2 than my Q1 reds and I just couldn’t quite get the temp in. That’s part of the game. We will live to fight tomorrow. Hopefully we can a little better race, but obviously the car is extremely competitive and we are happy with where the United Rentals machine is right now.”

  • FAST FACTS: Will make his 14th Indy car start at the track… His best start here is pole in 2009 and best finish is a win in 2008 in his IndyCar Series debut – both history-making moments at the time as he became the youngest race winner in series history (2008), and youngest pole winner in series history (2009). Both records were eclipsed in 2019 by Colton Herta but he held them for 10 and 11 years, respectively.  Overall, he has earned one top-five and six top-10 starts here and has two top-five and five top-10 finishes. Year-by-year details are available upon request… 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… He is ranked seventh in series point standings with 26.

TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 Panasonic / Shield Cleansers Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “Qualifying was a bit frustrating.  We just needed two more tenths (of a second) to move up to the second segment. We did everything we tried, we just need a little bit more speed. We have one more session tomorrow morning – the warm up – and hopefully we can have a bit more progress. It was a difficult qualifying today. The race will be another story. It’s going to be a tough one but I think where we are (starting), we are a little bit more open for strategy and we will see. We need to move up.” 

  • FAST FACTS: The 2021 race will be Takuma’s 12th here.  In 11 races, his best start is pole in 2014 with AJ Foyt Racing (AFR) and best finish is fifth place in 2011 with KV Racing. Overall, he has earned five top-five and six top-10 starts here and has two top-five and six top-10 finishes. Year-by-year details are available upon request… 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)… He is ranked 13th in series point standings with a total of 17.

NEXT UP:  The morning warmup will take place tomorrow from 9:05-9:35 a.m. ET.  The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be televised live on NBC beginning at 12 noon ET Sunday, April 25.