#15: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Honda, Graham Rahal

Rahal Letterman Lanigan RacingChevrolet Detroit Grand Prix – Dual 1
NTT INDYCAR SERIES
RACE NOTES/QUOTES – June 12, 2021

SATO, RAHAL AND FERRUCCI FINISH FOURTH, FIFTH AND SIXTH IN DUAL 1 OF THE CHEVROLET DETROIT GRAND PRIX; THE RACE WAS RED FLAGGED TWO TIMES

GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Fifth Third Bank Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “The Fifth Third Bank car was very competitive today. I’m glad we were able to fight our way through and then on that last restart make up a couple of spots. The boys did an excellent job. I’m quite sweaty and am going to sleep well tonight but the gents in the pits did an excellent job. Tonight we have a wardrobe change and go to the United Rentals car tomorrow. But today the Fifth Third Bank guys did an excellent job and, points wise, made up some on some guys, lost some to others, but that’s racing. Our pace was good, it was good to leap frog Rossi, stay ahead of Herta and some of the guys and in the end put ourselves in contention on that last restart. But the rears were just gone on the reds, we tried to make them last 18 laps and it was just a little bit too much to ask. On to tomorrow, here we go.” 

  • FAST FACTS: Rahal qualified 20th for the race and started on primary tires while a large portion of the field started on the faster, but less durable alternate tires. By Lap 9 he was in 10th place as some frontrunners pit early to get rid of their alternate tires. He made it up to fifth when the first caution, and subsequent red flag stoppage at 2:46 p.m. ET – came out for Rosenqvist, who made contact in Turn 6.  The race restarted at 4:04 and Rahal made his first stop under caution on Lap 28.  He returned to the track in 12th, ran 13th for a few laps then into 10th on Lap 34/70. As the other portion of the field began making their next stops, he cycled into the lead on Lap 50 and led four laps before he pit on Lap 53. He returned to the track in eighth place and held the position until Lap 54 when Grosjean brought out a caution and subsequent red flag.  When the cars rolled out of the pits after a 7 minute and 29 second stoppage, he was seventh after previous race leader Wil Power’s car wouldn’t start. On the restart, he passed Pagenaud and Jones to clain fifth place on Lap 68 and held it until the checkered flag in his 16th race here… In 2019, he earned two seventh place finishes. Rahal’s most successful race weekend came in Detroit in 2017 where he won Dual 1 from pole and won Dual 2 from a third place start. His other podiums in the race came in 2014 with second place in Dual 1 and third place in Dual 2 in 2015.  Overall, he has two wins, four podiums and one pole in 15 races here…  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 eighth place rank in series point standings with a total of 179 points after seven of 16 races.

TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 Panasonic / Mi-Jack Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “Little bit crazy of race as usual in Detroit, which I think is really exciting. For us it was a bit of a shame after we made a really good start. I felt the team was fantastic just overtaking cars and obviously the tires had more degradation than the blacks but I was able to get in front of Dixon and get up to P2 just behind Will so I was very happy with that. And then after that, on the first pit stop we had an issue on the mechanical side which was a shame we have to look into that, we lost 4-5 seconds which allowed a couple cars to pass so I had to overtake again. Then the red flag came and it was very unfortunate for Will Power. It was his race today. I had a really great opportunity for the restart but I didn’t have great traction coming out of the last corner and it allowed Veekay to get inside in Turn 1 and I got into marbles and then that was it. But for where we started to finish fourth, fifth, sixth as a team definitely looked good with great speed in the race which is exactly what we needed for today to gather great data for tomorrow’s qualifying and race too.”

  • FAST FACTS: Sato earned the top starting position for the team of 16th place and moved up to 12th after passing eventual winner and second place finisher Veekay on the opening laps. While most drivers who started on the alternate compound tires pit to shed them as quick as possible, Sato was able to keep them under him and moved up to second place by Lap 8.  He dropped back to third behind Dixon, who was on primary tires and passed him. He lost a little ground on his first stop on Lap 18 when a mechanical issue slowed the outside rear tire change. He dropped as low as 17th but was back in 12th when the first red flag came out for Rosenqvist on Lap 28, who made contact and the track safety barriers needed repair.  After a stoppage of 1 hour, 18 minutes. Once those who needed to make pit stops did so, Sato cycled into third place for the restart. The stewards ruled Sato had blocked on the restart and he had to give up one position and dropped to fourth o Lap 35. He made his second stop on Lap 46 and returned to the track in ninth place. He passed O’Ward for seventh on Lap 52 and gained positions as others stopped and climbed up to fourth by Lap 54. After he passed Veekay for third, a caution, then red flag, came out for Grosjean, who made contact in Turn 9. The cars again retuned to the pits for 7 minutes and 29 seconds. When the cars restarted and left the pits, race leader Powers car wouldn’t start and Sato moved up to second place. The green flag came out on Lap 67 and Veekay and O’Ward got by Sato, who ultimately finish fourth in his 16th race here…  In his previous 15 races, his best start is two poles (2014 with A.J. Foyt Racing, 2017 with Andretti Autosport), best finish is second in 2015 with AFR and third in 2019 with RLL and he has led a total of 44 laps in three races.  He started in the top-five in four of 15 races and earned four, top-five and six, top-10 finishes. In 2019, he started ninth and finished third in Race 1. In Race 2, he started 16th and finished 13th… Has SIX INDYCAR SERIES wins (2013 – Long Beach street course, 2017 – Indy 500 oval, 2018 – Portland road, 2019 – Barber road, Gateway oval; 2020 Indy 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 road, Texas oval; 2020 St. Louis – Race 2).  He moved up to 10th from 11th in series standings with 163 points.

SANTINO FERRUCCI, No. 45 Hy-Vee Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “A P6 finish from the back. At one point we were supposed to be in the top three for sure but the first yellow caught us out. Thankfully Felix is okay. I’m happy to rebound from the back again.  It’s great for the team finishing fourth, fifth and sixth so a great day for RLL.”

  • FAST FACTS: Ferrucci started 21st and passed Rahal and Chilton on the opening lap while on alternate tires. He climbed up to third y Lap 21 as multiple pit strategies played out. He was third when the race was red flagged for 1 hour, 18 minutes. He pit under caution when the race resumed and returned to the track in 15th.  He cycled back into second place, behind Rahal, e pit o Lap 53 then returned to the track in 10th place. He was in 9th place when Grosjean brought out a caution and the series decided to red flag the event for the second time. After 7 minutes, 29 seconds the cars were restarted with the exception of race leader Will Power. He ran eight and followed Rahal to pass Pagenaud and Jones and took the checkered flag sixth… After a strong result of sixth place in the Indy 500, Ferrucci joined the team for the doubleheader in Detroit. He competed with Dale Coyne Racing here in 2018 and 2019 with a best start of 13th place in Race 2 in 2018 and best finish of 10th in Race 2 in 2019. 

RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT DETROIT: The 2021 event will mark the 21st year for Rahal Letterman Lanigan (RLL) Racing to compete at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park and the team’s 28th and 29th races here.  The team’s highest start of pole came in 2017 with Graham Rahal earning his first pole since 2009 in Race 1Bobby and Graham Rahal have earned a combined total of three wins for the team here. Bobby won the inaugural race in 1992 and Graham is the only driver to have won both races on the same weekend, which he did in 2017. In total, the team has earned eight podiums (2nd – G. Rahal 2014, Jakes 2013 & Max Papis 2000), (3rd – G. Rahal 2015, Takuma Sato 2019) nine top-five finishes and 19 top-10’s here (chart available).

NEXT UP:  Qualifying for Dual 2 will take place tomorrow from 9-9:45 a.m. ET and the 70 lap Dual 2 will take the Green Flag at 12:50 PM.  Qualifying for Race 2 is live on NBCSN and Peacock. The Chevrolet Grand Prix of Detroit Dual 2 will be televised live at 12 PM ET, Sunday, June 13.