Rahal and Sato Hope to Build on Past Success at Texas Motor Speedway in Doubleheader Events on Saturday & Sunday

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Genesys 300 & XPEL 375 – Texas Motor Speedway
Pre-Race Notes
Round 3 & 4 of 17 in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES

DATE:     Saturday- Sunday, May 1-2, 2021

PRACTICE BROADCAST:     Live on Peacock Premium on Saturday from 12:30–1 p.m. ET.  Also live on the INDYCAR Radio Network (IRN) and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis).

QUALIFYING BROADCAST:     Live on NBCSN at 4 p.m. ET Saturday. Also on Peacock Premium, the IRN and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis).

RACE BROADCASTS:     Live on NBCSN Saturday, May 1 beginning at 7 p.m. ET and live on NBCSN on Sunday, May 2 beginning at 5 p.m. ET. And also on Peacock Premium, IRN, and SiriusXM 205, indycar.comindycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app powered by NTT DATA.

TRACK LAYOUT:     1.5-mile oval
RACE LENGTH:     212 laps / 318 miles on Saturday; 248 laps / 372 miles on Sunday

2020 WINNER:     Scott Dixon
2020 POLESITTER:     Josef Newgarden (2-lap average speed of 215.740 mph)

RAHAL’S BEST TMS START / FINISH:     3rd in 2012 / 1st in 2016; will be his 14th 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:     10 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, St. Louis (oval; Race 2) 2020 / 6 Wins – Long Beach (2013), Indianapolis 500 (2017), Portland (2018), Barber (2019), St. Louis (2019), Indianapolis 500 (2020)

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


The Genesys 300 and XPEL 375 will mark the 19th and 20th events 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 and 2007 with Scott Sharp.  The highest finish is Graham Rahal’s win in 2016. 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 2021 event, the team prepared a total of 27 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; DNS in 2020), James Jakes (2013) and Graham Rahal (2013-2020).  The No. 15 Fleet Cost & Care entry for Graham Rahal and No. 30 Panasonic / Mi-Jack entry for Takuma Sato will bring that total to 29 in 2021.

In Graham Rahal’s 13 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 13 races. Last year Rahal qualified seventh but was unable to leave the grid with the field to complete the pace laps after the car would not start. Limited crew were allowed on the grid with the race cars due to Covid-19 protocols and an engine tech would have been able to remedy the problem that effected three cars quickly otherwise. The team had to pull the car behind the pit wall and reprogram the ECU and he rejoined the field one lap down after the race started. The series penalized him for unapproved changes and re-entry from the garage and he was assessed a stop and go penalty which dropped him to three laps down and in 21st place. He was able to regain a lap later after a caution flag came out on Lap 38 of 200 for rookie VeeKay and Palou, who made contact.  After his third stop on Lap 82 under caution for debris, he regained another lap to run one lap down to the leaders.  There was a slight problem with the inside rear tire on his fourth stop on Lap 120 while he was running in 20th place but he did not lose a position other than track position.  On Lap 146, race leader and eventual winner Dixon passed to put him two laps down.  On Lap 156 he made another pit stop and had to maneuver around Ferrucci’s car in the pit before him, due to Ferrucci being sideways in the pit box which lost Rahal a little time on his stop.  He was in 18th when he had to serve a stop and go penalty on Lap 169 for running more than 35 green laps on a set of tires which dropped him to 20th.  Second place runner Rosenqvist brought out a caution period when he crashed and soon thereafter Ericsson’s car stopped in the pits with an issue. Those incidents, coupled with passing Hinchcliffe in the pits, moved Rahal to 17th by Lap 193, which he held until the checkered flag. Rahal is excited for the first – and second — oval race of the season.
            “It was a great feeling to win in Texas. To be able to fire the guns off after the race was pretty cool. The finish was a little closer than what we wanted. I can’t remember what the margin of victory was then but it was a couple inches maximum. Hopefully this time around we can get it done with a little more cushion.  I’m looking forward to going back to Texas, particularly after last weekend (in St. Pete). I thought we were looking for a top-three finish, feeling pretty strong really in the race and to not get any points or not get the result we hoped for was frustrating. Last year in Texas we actually qualified quite well, I think top seven, but the car wouldn’t start on the grid so we immediately started the race 2-3 laps down and you know from there just kind of held serve and did our thing, we couldn’t really pass anybody, we couldn’t really compete with anybody. We kind of just ran around all day so it wasn’t that much fun. But obviously it’s a double header this weekend. It’s going to be a big, big weekend for us points wise with races Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. The weather looks great. – upper 70’s which is nice compared to the 110 we normally get in Texas. So we are looking to see what we can do in the Fleet Cost & Care machine.”

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 in 2019 but not being able to maximize the potential in the race, Sato was looking forward to racing at TMS in 2020.  On his second warm up lap in qualifying, he lost traction and the rear of his race car swung around and me made contact with the wall at approx. 4:28 p.m. CT.  He was checked and released from the infield care center but the car sustained rear and left-side damage.  The team worked diligently to repair his race car but was unable to do so in time to complete the series safety check and go through tech inspection before the start of the race the same day therefore he was unable to compete.  He is looking forward to the possibility of another strong run at TMS.  
           “It’s going to be an exciting one because Texas is always an exciting race, it’s as simple as that. We had a good test and tried to help INDYCAR with the new aero kit as well as do the Firestone test and I think it was a very productive test for all of us. So it’s going to be quite a challenge, particularly the second lane in Texas now is very difficult to run. Firestone predicted about 20% less grip, so INDYCAR allowed us to have more downforce in order to go a little bit closer together to make for more overtaking. Which I believe it will succeed and we will see for the race, but all in all I think we had a very good baseline, and hopefully it’s the case because we only have one session and its straight to qualifying so hopefully we have a strong package.”

The test went okay for us. The car was very competitive on the long runs. It’s going to be interesting to see what INDYCAR does coming into the weekend.  There are rumors that they are looking to change the track with some grinding and maybe a new procedure to put some rubber down or peel up the solution that they tried to put on the track to create grip.  In the end it didn’t do its job a few years ago. I think INDYCAR has been working hard with the track at TMS to get rid of that and lay down some new rubber to give us somewhere to race, so it’ll be interesting to see what we get when we go back as compared to the test.  The expectation anywhere that we go is to be competitive and to win. I thought St. Pete we were close honestly.  The car, at the beginning stages of that race, we were able to move through some guys and be very competitive and we expect the same when we go to Texas.  I don’t think it matters where we are, a team like ourselves ought to be competitive everywhere.”