Rahal, Sato & Ferrucci Return to Team’s Home Track for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio

Rahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio – Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
Pre-Race Notes
Round 9 of 16 in the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES
DATE:     July 2-4, 2021

PRACTICE BROADCAST:     Live on Peacock Premium on Friday from 2:30 – 3:15 p.m. ET and on Saturday from 9:05 – 9:50 a.m. and 3:30 – 4 p.m. ET.  Also live on the INDYCAR Radio Network (IRN) and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis).

QUALIFYING BROADCAST:     Live on Peacock Premium, the IRN and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis) from 12:00 – 1:15 p.m. ET Saturday. Tape delayed on NBCSN from 11:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. ET on Sunday.

RACE BROADCAST:     Live on NBC Sunday, July 4 from 12:00 – 2:00 p.m. ET. And also on Peacock Premium, IRN, Sirius 211 and XM 205

TRACK LAYOUT:     2.258-mile, 13-turn road course
RACE LENGTH:     80 laps / 180.64 miles (increased from 75 in 2020)

2020 WINNER(S):     Will Power (Race 1), Colton Herta (Race 2)
2020 POLESITTER(S):     Will Power (1:06.3343, 122.543 mph; Race 1), Colton Herta (1:26.2788; 94.215 mph; Race 2)

RAHAL’S BEST MID-OHIO START / FINISH:     4th in 2009 (NHLR) and 2017 (RLL) / 1st in 2015 with RLL; will be his 15th Indy car race here
RAHAL’S HIGHEST SERIES START / FINISH:     3 Poles – St. Pete (street) 2009, Kansas (oval) 2009, Detroit (street) 2017 / 6 Wins – St. Pete 2008, Fontana (oval; 500 miles) 2015, Mid-Ohio (road) 2015, Texas (oval) 2016; Detroit Race 1 2017, Detroit Race 2 2017

SATO’S BEST MID-OHIO START / FINISH:     3rd in 2010 (KVRT) & 2017 (AA) / 4th in 2011 (KVRT); will be his 13th 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, Gateway (oval) 2020 – Race 2 / 6 Wins – Long Beach (2013), Indianapolis 500 (2017), Portland (road) 2018, Barber 2019, Gateway (oval) 2019, Indianapolis 500 (2020)

FERRUCCI’S BEST START / FINISH AT MID-OHIO:     2nd in 2020 (Race 2) / 12th in 2019 – both with DCR; will be his 4th race here
FERRUCCI’S HIGHEST SERIES START / FINISH:     2nd at Mid-Ohio (Race 2) 2020 / 4th place, four times (most recently the 2020 Indy 500)

RLL’S BEST START / FINISH AT MID-OHIO:     Pole 1997 (Herta) / 1st 2015 (G. Rahal)


The 2021 Honda Indy 200 will mark the 25th Indy car event for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) at Mid-Ohio Sports Car course, near the team’s Hilliard, Ohio shop. The team also competed in the Atlantic Series race in 2003 with Danica Patrick and has competed in ALMS races here in 2007 and from 2009-2012 and IMSA races since 2018.  The team has earned four podiums (1st – G. Rahal 2015; 3rd – B. Rahal 1997, 1998, G. Rahal 2017), 15 top-five’s and 21 top-10 finishes at the track and the highest start is pole (Herta 1997).  Another front row start came in 1999 (Herta; 2nd).  Prior to the 2021 event, the team prepared a total of 38 Indy car entries for drivers Bobby Rahal (1992-98), Mike Groff (1994), Raul Boesel (1995), Bryan Herta (1996-99), Max Papis (1999-2001), Jimmy Vasser (2002), Michel Jourdain Jr. (2002-03) Ryan Hunter-Reay (2007-2008), Takuma Sato (2012, 2018-20, two races in ‘20), James Jakes (2013) and Graham Rahal (2013-2020, 2 races in ‘20). The team will enter the No. 15 Fifth Third Bank entry for Graham Rahal, the No. 30 Panasonic / Mi-Jack entry for Takuma Sato and the No. 45 Hy-Vee entry for Santino Ferrucci and will bring that total to 41 in 2021.

The 2021 Honda Indy 200 will mark Rahal’s 15th Indy car race here. His best start is fourth in 2009 and 2017 and his best finish is his win here in 2015. He has finished in the top-five, six times in his past eight races here. In total, he has one win (2015), two podiums (2017), six top-five and 9 top-10 finishes in his 14 races here including a pair of fourth place finishes in the doubleheader in 2020. Year-by-year recaps are available upon request. He has also competed in many other series at his “home track.”  In addition to Indy car races here, at the age of 16 in 2005, Rahal became the youngest to claim the SCCA National Formula Atlantic championship at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs here by a dominant 43-seconds.  He also competed in the Star Mazda race here in 2005 (S/F 4/9) and tested a Grand Am car here in 2007.  He always enjoys racing at home.
            “Last year at Mid-Ohio was a double header and we finished fourth both days. We were pretty competitive; it was a toasty weekend and we expect the same this weekend. We weren’t able to get on the podium or the top step which is what we’d like to do at Mid-Ohio. We are excited for the weekend ahead. I feel like after Road America there’s a little frustration within the organization for not performing as well as we should have in the race. So you take that fuel and you add it to this weekend and hopefully we’ll have a really great run.
           “The field is tight; the guys up front (in the points) have kind of taken off a little bit so that’s going to be a pretty big hurdle to climb at this stage. When I look around us (in the standings) with Simon, Colton, and a lot of guys like Takuma, who is behind me, there are a lot of guys that are very close that we can certainly get and so our goal is to try to do that. I feel like if we can have a strong weekend this weekend, we should be able to go forward and have really strong races the beginning of next month. I feel good about Nashville and the Indy GP again for the brickyard weekend. I know that we are very competitive there, I know that we can run up front and potentially win that race based on our performance the last time around. This is a big weekend for us points wise, we’ve had a lot of great finishes this year but we need to get over the hurdle and get another podium and get a win. If we can get one win, I think we can get many others. It’s kind of this deal where you’ve got to knock the wall down sometimes. It took us a few years to do it before, and once we did we won five times in only a couple of years.”

The Honda Indy 200 will mark Takuma’s 13th race here. In his 12 previous races, his best start is third – in 2010 with KVRT and in 2017 with Andretti Autosport.  He has two, top-five finishes and three top-10’s. His best finish is fourth in 2011 with KVRT.  He is looking to rebound from a disappointing weekend here last year where he finished 17th in Race 1 and 18th in Race 2.
           “This weekend is Mid-Ohio, another great road course in the United States and pretty challenging as well. The racetrack is quite tricky because the track evolution is huge over the day and over the course of the weekend, so we have to be careful about chasing too much on that. To get the balance right, to get good grip is always the challenge at Mid-Ohio. We have good momentum at the moment from the last couple of races so we need to carry that over and we want to carry that even better into this weekend. Particularly since it’s a home race for Rahal Letterman Lanigan as well as having a big Honda plant in Mid-Ohio. Usually, we see lots of employees and families, and the fans generally speaking are very enthusiastic, one of the best road course fans that are very knowledgeable and it’s a great atmosphere. Last year we couldn’t have the fans back, but this year will be extremely exciting. Looking forward to seeing them all, and we will do our best to have a strong weekend.”

After a strong result of sixth place in the Indy 500, and sixth and tenth at the doubleheader in Detroit, Santino Ferrucci will return to the team and pilot the No. 45 Hy-Vee entry. He competed with Dale Coyne Racing here in 2019 where he started 14th and finished 12th and in the doubleheader in 2020 with a career-best start of second place in Race 2.  He started 14th in Race 1 and had 14th place finishes in both races. He’s looking forward to his first road course race in an Indy car this season.
            “I’m super excited to be back in Mid-Ohio. The performance to date with the team has been pretty incredible. Three races and three top 10’s, two races where we were just outside of the top five at the 500 and Detroit Race 1. I’m really looking forward to being back; I really think we can get inside the top 5 and on the podium and possibly win one. I’m thrilled to be back at Mid-Ohio and I can’t wait.  My highest start came at Mid-Ohio, actually last year, I started outside the front row and we were fastest in our group in the rain by about 2.5 seconds. I can definitely repeat it — by 2.5 seconds, probably not — but in the dry I’d like to think we can qualify in the Fast Six for sure. I think the car will have the pace.”

“Last year’s races were 75 laps because of the double header,” said Rahal. “A traditional race is longer than that which is what we are going to see this weekend. Strategy wise I don’t see a big change. We will have to sit down and look at it with the guys on our team when the time comes after we see where we start and what we can do. And if we are starting up front, you’re going to follow a pretty normal strategy. Tire wise we are going to have to see how the cars respond this year in the conditions on the track. There has been a lot of running in Ohio with other series over the last couple of days and weeks and so it’s going to be important to see how that works with us. But we are excited and we think we’ll be pretty strong.”
            “I’m super excited that they went back to the 80-lap race this year in Ohio,” added Ferrucci. “It’s a little bit better because you can run a two-stop or three-stop strategy so it just makes people do different things. You can either do fuel savings, or you can run hard and fast. It definitely changes up the grid a little bit and I’m looking forward to it. I don’t think it’s a big deal with endurance since we aren’t doing a double header this weekend, but I definitely think it will make the racing more entertaining.”

“This weekend I’m really excited to see a lot of fans. I anticipate a great crowd. Being the 4th of July is kind of an interesting time to have a race but I hope people look at it as a positive that it’s a great opportunity to come out and have a blast with your family this weekend. I’m looking forward to seeing some of the fireworks going off, and I’m looking forward to going around and seeing the campgrounds on Saturday night. I know there’s no official judging this year but certainly going to go around and see everybody. The one thing I’m looking forward to with Harlan is to take her around the track. She loves golf cart rides which is something we found at Road America. And I did too as a kid so it’s kind of funny. We just put her on our lap and go cruise around. For me, its moments like that where my love for the sport came from, specifically at Mid-Ohio spending time with my family and going on golf cart rides. Guys that worked for the race team would take me out and I’m sure it was boring for them but for me it created memories that have lasted a lifetime and I hope the same for Harlan. On Saturday night to take her out to see everybody and cruise around in the golf cart will be awesome. We’ve always enjoyed Mid-Ohio, Mid-Ohio means a lot to our family and I think this particular weekend even more so.”

“I’ve known for quite a while that Mid-Ohio is a home race for Bobby and the team because every time I go there all you see is Graham Rahal jerseys, old Bobby memorabilia and stuff like that and it’s just really cool. It’s an honor to be driving at their home event in the Hy-Vee colors. Honestly I can’t wait to get going and to encounter some of those fans. I feel like Graham and I are like the great American duo so it’ll be a fun weekend for sure.”

Heading into Round 10 at the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, Rahal has a total of 228 points and is ranked ninth overall. He trails fifth place Simon Pagenaud by 27 (255). Takuma Sato is 10th with 206.