Rahal Letterman Lanigan RacingBig Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix – Indianapolis Motor Speedway
NTT INDYCAR SERIES
RACE NOTES/QUOTES – August 14, 2021
RAHAL FINISHED SEVENTH, SATO 10TH AND LUNDGAARD 12TH IN THE BIG MACHINE SPIKED COOLERS GRAND PRIX
GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 One Cure Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “We finished seventh today which was a solid result. I’m happy with that. Frankly, the strategy worked well. The first stint, we were able to get by a handful of guys. The second stint we pushed hard and the third stint we went to the blacks (primary Firestone tires) which did hurt us a little bit because most guys had already completed their stint on blacks, but it looks like we were actually the fastest car on blacks which was a good thing because we didn’t loose that much and were able to challenge on the last stint and get a couple of places. Just the way that it worked fundamentally being a little more trimmed out today to try to go quick down the straights did hurt us a little bit when we were in very close traffic but overall, the One Cure team did an amazing job today. I’m super proud of our guys. We’d like to be winning races, but it was a good result, and we raised more money for United Rentals and Turns for Troops to help change some veterans’ lives. Now its time to go home and relax a little this evening.
“I haven’t eaten much today – but I actually feel really fresh surprisingly (after asked about food poisoning). It was toasty a little bit. My heel either melted to the tub or something was sticking it to the tub which was kind of strange. Overall, it’s another day where we passed a lot of cars which was good. I finished seventh, but I think we found a setup that is significantly better than what we had yesterday. The positive is it’s a good foundation – something for us to consider when we go to Laguna and a lot of these other places that can relate in certain ways, so we’ll see.”
- FAST FACTS: He qualified 16th and gained two spots on the start on the faster alternate tires. By Lap 6 of 85 he ran 11th and cycled up to fifth before his first stop on Lap 16. He ran eighth the majority of his next stint and cycled into third before his second stop on Lap 39. He ran ninth the majority of his next stint and pit from sixth for his third stop. He moved into eighth when Palou stopped on course and after s three-lap caution battled, then passed, Pagenaud on Lap 72 for seventh and held the position until the checkered flag… The Big Machine Spiked Coolers GP will be Rahal’s 11th 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 10 events, he has eight top-10 finishes of second (2015, 2020), fourth (2016), fifth (2021 May), 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 is currently ranked sixth in NTT INDYCAR SERIES point standings with 312.
TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 Panasonic / Mi-Jack Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “The Indy GP was obviously a really tough weekend. We started from the midfield, 15th. I think we didn’t have a really good start, jumped up a few cars but then I had black tires on and the red tire cars behind us – 4 cars, I tried to hold my position and I think we gave up 2 or maybe 3 I don’t know. But generally speaking, the entire race we were moving forward, and went up to P8. After the restart, we had quite a tough battle with Newgarden and in the end it was going through turn 1 where I defended and obviously, he tried to come inside, and he pushed me off to the grass. So unfortunately, I lost 2 places but nevertheless I think the team did a solid job. I wish it was a top 8 finishing today but onto the next one. Short oval, the last oval of the season, and we have lots of great memories there so hope to see you guys there!”
- FAST FACTS: Started the race from 15th place on the slower, but more durable, primary tires. There was a battle at the start and Sato though he had been hit after moving up to 13th. He dropped to 16th and pit early on Lap 10 like others who started on primary tires. Once the first stops were completed, he ran 15th, and he made his second stop on Lap 34. He ran 14th and moved up to 11th by Lap 46. His third stop was on Lap 60, and he returned to the track in 11th. As others made their stops and Palou had a mechanical issue, he ran eight behind Rahal. A battle with Newgarden with two laps to go dropped him from 8th to 10th, where he took the checkered flag. The 2021 GMR GP was Takuma’s 11th 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 dropped from 10th to 11th in series point standings with a total of 251.
CHRISTIAN LUNDGAARD, No. 45 Mi-Jack Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “This weekend has been amazing. I’ve enjoyed every second of it. Qualifying itself, to be in the top-five out of 28 cars wasn’t expected. And I think it did put us in a good position for the race. Coming out leading the race at some point, it was amazing, but it was all about just not doing a mistake and having a clean race and get through it. I rather wanted to get to do 85 laps than just 60 or so on. The mileage was important to get the experience of the full race. We got through it, and it was tough. It was a long two hours. I think tire management is probably where I suffered the most, knowing how much I can push and so on. But it’s been a hell of an experience. I guess it went fine, we were probably more on the safe side than the aggressive side, the target was to get through it and not make any mistakes and I think we survived that. It was tough racing; I wasn’t expecting a caution at the end. I was quite low on Push to Pass at that point, and I was a bit lucky with Bourdais because he had 115 seconds or something like that with 10 laps to go so, I knew he would have got me anyway. I’m happy with P12, I got the experience. I’ll go home well rested and with a good experience from America.”
- FAST FACTS: Started fourth and was passed by Herta on the start to run fifth. When the pit cycle started, he moved into the lead for laps 16-17 until he made his first stop on Lap 18. He settled into the stint in 10th place until Lap 34 when he cycled up into on Laps 39-40 before his second stop on Lap 41. He ran the slower, but more durable, primary tires during the stint and lost some ground to those around him who had the fastest alternate tires on and ran 14th. His third stop was on Lap 59, and he returned to the alternate tires. And moved into 13th place by Lap 76. He took over 12th when Pagenaud dropped back after an on-track battle and took the checkered flag after 80 laps… This was his INDYCAR SERIES debut. He set the seventh fastest time in practice and in qualifying, he matched the team’s best start at IMS on the road course of fourth place, also set by Graham Rahal in 2020.
NEXT UP: The series will compete in the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway on August 21. Takuma Sato finished second in Race 1 last year and qualified on pole in Race 2.