Bommarito 500 Race Report

Rahal Letterman Lanigan RacingBommarito 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway
RACE NOTES/QUOTES – August 22, 2021


GRAHAM RAHAL. No. 15 Hy-Vee Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “Well I tried to give him (Jones) tons of room and he just never even hit an apex and slid up the track and apparently hit me. He said it was aggressive for the start, and my response would be that’s on his behalf because I broke early and I gave him a lot of space. So unfortunately, it’s a real shame for us in the championship, it’s a real shame overall. I was excited for tonight. Honestly, I thought I had a really good car – I wanted to go race hard and try and have a good finish so I’m just super disappointed. Unfortunately for us in our Hy-Vee Honda, our race came to a close very quickly. You know I don’t know what else to say, he probably needs to review the tape. I’ve certainly been at blame for a lot of accidents in my career, and a lot of mistakes – but tonight I felt that giving him two lanes of room should have been enough and if you watch the tape you can see that. I’m disappointed for Hy-Vee, and I’m disappointed for all the 15 car guys. Frankly starting ninth, we got boxed in there on the inside going into Turn 1. We’ve seen it on all the restarts and unfortunately it caused us to lose a couple of spots. From there, I thought we had a really great run on Ed. I wanted to start to move forward a little bit and that’s all she wrote. It’s a shame for Hy-Vee, it’s a shame for our Turns For Troops initiative with United Rentals.  I’m definitely pretty bummed for everybody today but we will keep our heads up and focus on the next one.” 

  • FAST FACTS: Rahal was looking forward to the race after the having a strong performance on long runs in the practice session where he ended fourth fastest. He qualified ninth and made a conservative start and dropped back to 12th.  Ed Jones appeared to lose traction in the rear of his car and slid up into Rahal in Turn 1 and the two collided. Jones stopped on track and Rahal was able to continue to the pits but had substantial damage. The team tried to repair the car, first behind pit lane and then later in the garage area but had to retire from the event…  The 2021 race was Rahal’s sixth at the track. His highest start is seventh and highest finish is 10th – both in 2018. In 2021, he struggled in qualifying which led to 22nd and 23rd-place starting spots for Race 1 and 2, respectively. A napkin hindered his performance in Race 1 and he soldiered on in Race 2 but neither race was indicative of his usual performance that saw him finish third in the previous short oval race in 2020 at Iowa Speedway (Race 2). 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… Rahal dropped from sixth in series point standings to eighth with a total of 319.

TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 Panasonic / Mi-Jack Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “St. Louis is one of our favorite tracks and we have a pretty good record. Today qualifying wasn’t great but we slowly but definitely moved up and it was quite exciting, lots of overtaking. But unfortunately, on a pitstop, the fuel didn’t come in full and it was kind of short. So that’s why I had to come in under yellow to top off on fuel, so that was a real shame. The boys did a fantastic job, so if that didn’t happen I would’ve had a really strong finish today. But nevertheless, I think we fought really strong from midfield and finished in the top six so I am very proud of the team.”

  • FAST FACTS: Qualified 17th and took over 15th on the opening lap when Jones made contact with Rahal. Multiple laps of yellow, and attempted-but-delayed restarts meant that the race didn’t start in earnest until Lap 26. From then on, Sato drove a competitive race and moved up the field. On the second of what would be four pit stops, the fuel didn’t completely go in and he took advantage of a caution from Laps 201-209 to pit from second place on Lap 203 of 260 laps to top off on fuel and take on new tires.  He returned to the track in sixth place and took the checkered flag in that position for his sixth race here. In his previous three races at WWTR, Takuma Sato has a win (2019), near win (finished 2nd in Race 1 in 2020 by 0.14-seconds to Dixon) and pole (Race 2 in 2020). He led 61 laps en route to victory at WWTR in 2019. He led 14 laps in Race 1 in 2020 after starting fifth and made his final stop from the lead but there was an issue on the outside rear tire that delayed the stop 2-3 seconds and he returned to the track in third rather than maintaining his position. He began pursuit of O’Ward and pulled off a decisive pass on Lap 180.  He then began cutting the two-second deficit to Dixon and set the fastest lap of the race on Lap 183 and ultimately finished a mere 0.14 behind him.  He started from pole for Race 2 and finished ninth… Has SIX INDYCAR SERIES wins (2013 – Long Beach street course, 2017 – Indy 500 oval, 2018 – Portland road, 2019 – Barber road & WWTR 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, Texas oval; 2020 St. Louis Race 2).  He moved from 11th in series point standings to 10th with a total of 279 points.

NEXT UP:  The series will take two weeks off before reconvening for the final three races on the west coast. The Grand Prix of Portland is September 12.