Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
REV Group Grand Prix at Road America
NTT INDYCAR SERIES – Round 9 of 16
SATO REBOUNDED FROM AN EARLY RACE INCIDENT TO FINISH EIGHTH IN THE REV GROUP GRAND PRIX AT ROAD AMERICA; RAHAL FINISHED 11TH
GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Hy-Vee Dallara/Honda//Firestone: “The Road America race was really just a bad day for us. I drove poorly and gave up too many spots. And then at the end we just didn’t have the right tires on and was just exposed. We were losing the tires before the restart and that was it for me. I was out of overtake so just in trouble overall. It was a super disappointing weekend for us the way that finished up. It did not go as planned clearly but at the end of the day, thank you to Hy-Vee for supporting us and making us go round. We’ll be back stronger. We’re going to work hard and focus on Mid-Ohio.”
- FAST FACTS: Rahal ran at the front of each session for the event, with the exception of qualifying and the race. After starting 14th, he cycled as high as fourth before his first stop but struggled with the handling of his race car at various times throughout the race and finished in 11th place… The REV Group Grand Prix at Road America was Graham Rahal’s eighth Indy car race here and 12th overall. In his previous seven Indy car races here, his top finishes are two third place (2007, 2016), a fourth place (2019), sixth (2018) and eighth (2017). Last year he matched his best start of fourth place for Race 1 and passed second place starter Harvey for third by Turn 1. He held the position and set his fastest lap of the race on Lap 8 when he passed Hunter-Reay for second. He started pursuit of leader Newgarden and closed the gap by 0.4 seconds as the pit window began to open between laps 12-14. He ran between 2.2-2.5-seconds behind Newgarden and took over the lead on Lap 13 when he pit. When he made his first of three stops on the following lap, he held a 4.3-second lead on Ferrucci. There was a problem with the fueling and the extended seconds in the pit dropped him to 11th place and 21-seconds behind the leader when he returned to the track. By the time the second pit stops started to take place, he cycled up to sixth before making his second stop on Lap 27 of 55. He settled into eighth place and moved into seventh when Harvey appeared to have a car issue that brought out the full course caution. The field made their third stops once the pits opened. Rahal held seventh through the restart and was unable to hold off a last lap charge by Ericcson, who had more Push-to-Pass, but then spun off course and Rahal took the checkered flag in seventh to keep his top-10 finish streak at the track alive. Rahal planned to realize the potential of a fast car on one of his favorite tracks in Race 2 but didn’t make it past the opening lap after qualifying fifth when he was hit by Will Power in Turn 3. The hard hit sent him off course and into two different concrete walls in Turn 3. Power had previously made contact with Hunter-Reay in Turn 1 and was penalized for “avoidable contact” and had to go to the back of the field for the restart… 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 228.
TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 Panasonic / Mi-Jack Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “Road America was a tough weekend to be honest starting from P20 as we couldn’t find the speed. But a great strategy gave us a comeback. I’m sorry to Daly; my apologies to him. It was my fault for going too deep. But in the end I think the team made a great strategy to come back on the pace. The car was damaged so we had to duct tape to hold down the side wing so the car must have been damaged because it was dragging. Other than that, the restart was fun. It was a great sprint race in the end, finishing P8 is very strong considering we didn’t have a great pace. Great job to the whole team, and now we are halfway through the season so we will just keep pushing forward through the rest of the season. Thank you everyone for the support.”
- FAST FACTS: He started 20th and moved into 17th place by the completion of Lap 1. He raced McLaughlin, Magnussen and Daly for position in the ensuing laps and INDYCAR Stewards ruled that he had made avoidable contact with Daly and had to give up one position. The contact damaged the left side of his race car and it was compromised and moving as he drove but he maintained 20th place until he stopped on Lap 10. The team checked the car for further damage and he returned to the track in 25th place. He utilized the caution on Lap 17 for Jimmie Johnson to make another stop so the team could tape up the damaged bodywork and he only lost one spot. Once the race went green again, he ran 22nd. The majority of the field made stops on the caution for Ericcson on Lap 24 and Sato cycled up into second place by Lap 25. He passed Magnussen on Lap 31 and led a total of two laps before he made his third stop on Lap 33. Once the round of stops was complete, he ran 11th by Lap 40/55 and into second for Laps 43-48 before making his final stop on Lap 48. He set his fastest lap of the race on Lap 50. After Jones had an issue to bring out a caution and once temporary race leader Askew pit, he gained two spots. On the restart from Jones’s caution on Lap 53, he passed Rahal, Chilton and O’Ward to take the checkered flag in eighth place… The 2021 REV Group Grand Prix was Takuma Sato’s seventh race at the four-mile, 14-turn course. His best start here of sixth place came in 2019 with RLL and his best finish of fourth came in 2018 – also with RLL. In six races, he has two top-10 starts and four top-10 finishes, all coming since 2018. Last year, Sato started 15th and on the harder primary tires. He was pushed off course by Veach on the start and dropped to 22nd but regained a few spots as Andretti and Rossi had to pit. On Lap 9, the team elected to pit him for the faster alternate tires so he could make up some ground. He was up to 15th by his second stop and then 12th for his third stop when the field pit under caution for Harvey. He restarted in 11th place and moved into 10th when O’Ward and Pagenaud made contact and the latter dropped back. Then he moved into ninth when Ericsson went off course on the last lap. In Race 2, he started 12th and had to take evasive action on the opening lap from the contact ahead and lost positions to Newgarden, Veach, Kimball, Andretti, Ericsson and VeeKay. He ran 14th until others began to make stops and cycled up to fourth before he made his first stop on Lap 16 of 55. He returned to run 14th until the next cycle began and he moved up to fourth again before his second stop on Lap 28. A few cars pit and he later passed Power for ninth place on Lap 37. He was up to eighth place when he made his final stop and returned to the track in the same position. He had to stretch his fuel which enabled ninth place runner Newgarden to close a two-second gap to 0.4 by the final lap but Sato held him off to finish eighth… 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 from 10th to 9th place in series point standings with 206.
NEXT UP: The series will take next weekend off before returning to action for the Honda Indy at Mid-Ohio on July 4.