Rahal Letterman Lanigan RacingGMR Grand Prix – Indianapolis Motor Speedway
NTT INDYCAR SERIES
RACE NOTES/QUOTES – May 15, 2021


RAHAL CHARGED TO A FIFTH PLACE FINISH IN THE GMR GRAND PRIX AFTER OPENING LAP CONTACT SENT HIM TO 24TH; SATO FINISHED 16TH

GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Fifth Third Bank Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “Oh boy was that an exciting one.  Obviously, the start I need to look at it. I thought I was giving enough room but obviously came in contact with Conor there. Our boys, we’re going to nickname this race ‘Chicken Salad’ because to take that green flag 20+ seconds behind (the field after two stops) and be able to work our way up with a good car, good pace, good fuel saving, definitely one of the better drives I’ve ever had. I’m proud of these guys to get another top five. When you start that far behind it’s remarkable. It’s a good run for Fifth Third Bank, everybody in this organization, Honda with the fuel mileage, it’s all just excellent stuff. I’m super happy with how this ended up. I’ve got to say I’m shocked but it was definitely a good run for us.
            “(On the incident at the start:) I don’t know what happened. Obviously, we had a pretty beat up car for the remainder of the race. The right rear was pretty beat up. But that happened so easily, I’m not really sure how it falls apart like that with so little contact but either way the biggest thing is just to keep the guys heads together and keep mine. Obviously that restart wasn’t ideal – we topped up on fuel and restarted 20 seconds behind.  Imagine if we had restarted in the back of the pack and didn’t have to make up the 20 seconds. But at the same time it was good because by the time I caught Montoya he had to pit. By the time I got to some of those guys in the sequence, they were having to pit so I could just keep going so the momentum just kept rolling but it was definitely a good day.”

  • FAST FACTS: Rahal started 11th but seventh place Pagenaud and eighth place Daly made contact which sent Daly into Rahal, who dropped to the back after he had to pit for repairs to the right rear bodywork on Lap 2 and again on Lap 3 to top off on fuel. When the race restarted from caution to remove Daly’s car, Rahal was 24th and a good amount of distance back from the field. As others made their first stop, he cycled up to as high as fifth on Lap 29/85 before he made his third stop on Lap 30. He returned to the track in 21st place and set about conserving as much fuel as he could and not using his push-to-pass. He cycled as high as fifth before he made his next stop on Lap 58 and returned to the track in 13th place and regained fifth place by Lap 66.  He held the position while holding off Pagenaud until he took the checkered flag fifth after 85 laps…  The GMR GP was Rahal’s 10th Indy car race on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In July 2020, he earned his top start of fourth place here and matched his best finish of second place (2015, 2020) in seven starts but looked likely to win.  In nine events, he has seven top-10 finishes of second (2015, 2020), fourth (2016), sixth (2017), seventh (2019-2020) and ninth (2018). 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 maintained his fifth-place rank in NTT INDYCAR SERIES point standings with 137, but closed on the leader Dixon, who has 176 (-39).

TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 Panasonic / Shield Cleansers Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “Disappointing race, frustrating shall we say. Nothing wrong, I made a good start and we did what we planned for the pitstops but every time we came out we caught some traffic but I guess everybody is in the same boat but we didn’t make any positions up. Got a few interesting battles and that was great but P16 is just frustrating.  Hopefully now with the Indy 500, we it turn around and have a good run.”

  • FAST FACTS: Sato qualified 17th and gained three places on the start when Daly and Pagenaud made contact and Daly collected Rahal. An issue on his first stop led to him running over the airgun, which drew a post-race monetary penalty. During stints, the highest he was able to cycle forward was to 13th place due to track position and he ultimately finished 16th…  The 2021 GMR GP was Takuma’s 10th INDYCAR race on the IMS road course.  His best start is 11th in 2018 and 2019 with RLL and his best finish is ninth in 2017 with Andretti Autosport… 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 10 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; 2020 – St. Louis Race 2)… He maintained his 12th place rank in series point standings with a total of 98.

RLL AT THE IMS ROAD COURSE…. The GMR Grand Prix marked the 10th NTT INDYCAR SERIES race on the 2.439-mile road course.  The team’s best finish here is second in 2015 and July 4, 2020 by Rahal and best start is fourth in 2020, also by Rahal.

NEXT UP: Opening Day for the Indy 500 will take place on Tuesday, May 18.