Rahal Led 36 Laps But the Timing of a Caution Limited His Pit Strategy and He Finished 10th; Sato Finished 12th and Askew Retired in 24th Place

Rahal Letterman Lanigan RacingGrand Prix of Portland
RACE NOTES/QUOTES – September 12, 2021


GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Total Quartz Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “Portland has come to a close for us here on the Total Quartz Machine.  You guys can probably imagine that I’m pretty upset, if nothing else just disappointed. Our guys did an excellent job today.  We played the strategy right but unfortunately all the guys who caused the crash at the start are all the guys who won. It’s just a shame, I don’t know what else to say. I’m obviously disappointed, but the high points are that they definitely knew we were here. Our boys did an excellent job in the pits once again. The car was very strong, out front leading.  I don’t know how many laps we led but it was a lot of fun to be out there and get the Total machine out front. We put our head down and finished all the laps here, and got another top-10. It should have been a win, I can’t help but say it, we played it perfect just sometimes in racing the yellows don’t go your way. Chin up and on to Monterrey we go.”

  • FAST FACTS: Rahal started fifth and moved to second place on the opening lap and avoided damage from contact that involved multiple cars. He took over the lead on Lap 29 when leader O’Ward pit for fuel and tires and held it until his first stop on Lap 35/110. He came back on track ahead of O’Ward by staying out longer and undercutting him. He reclaimed the lead on Lap 44 and was 2.6-second ahead of O’Ward. A caution on Lap 51 for Kellett, who stopped in Turn 1 and Ilott, who stopped in Turn 7 came out. This forced the team to adopt the same two-stop strategy that those who were involved in the opening lap contact and topped off were on, so he had to save fuel and ultimately finished 10th… It was the sixth overall race for Graham at PIR and fourth in the headline event.  In 2018, he started 10th and had gotten through Turns 1 and 2, which was expected to be action-packed at the start, and after getting through Turn 2 Zach Veach squeezed James Hinchcliffe and the two made contact which set off a multi-car crash that collected Hinchcliffe, Marco Andretti, Rahal, points-leader Scott Dixon and his then teammate Ed Jones.  Rahal’s car was too damaged to continue so it was towed back to the paddock and after more than one hour he returned to the track to complete a handful of laps to collect two championship points, which was the maximum possible. This move helped him at season’s end. He competed in the 2007 Champ Car World Series race where he started eighth and finished ninth in his rookie season for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.  He started from pole in the Atlantics race here in 2006 but was hit by Simon Pagenaud on Lap 1 and finished 27th.  In 2005, he earned his first professional win at PIR in the Star Mazda race after starting fourth and winning by a margin of 0.0317 seconds over James Hinchcliffe… 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)… Rahal moved from eighth place in series point standings to seventh with a total of 342.

TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 Panasonic / Mi-Jack Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “Well it was a good race considering we started from the back of the grid, and then we tried the two-stop strategy, and I think we had one of the longest runs in the group on the two stop. Apart from a good team and good drivers, they sort of got a free stop and were in better conditions and in the end we couldn’t gain back on that position. I wish we could have finished in the top 10, but it was still a solid performance. I think the guys did a great job. It was definitely a positive weekend as we showed tremendous speed that we’ve gained on road courses. There are two races to go but we are very optimistic.”

  • FAST FACTS: Started 26th after a six-grid penalty for an unapproved engine change and jumped into 17th on the opening lap but making a good start and avoiding the multi-car contact. He ran as high as second on Laps 37-38 before he pit on Lap 39. He made his second stop on Lap 76/110 from sixth place and ultimately finished 12th… Was collected in an opening lap accident in 2019 and ultimately finished 15th.  Won the 2018 race after starting 20th in his first event here at the track.  He led a total of 23 laps including the final 20 on what was largely a two-stop strategy plus an early pit to top off on fuel during an opening lap caution that took out four cars including his teammate Rahal. On the start, he avoided a multi-car crash and once the pits opened during the caution, he pit to top off his fuel and returned to the track in 16th place.  Topping off on fuel enabled him to cycle as high as second when he made his second stop for tires and fuel on Lap 39.  He returned to the track in 17th place and maintained a good pace to those on two and three-stop strategies. He moved up to 10th on Lap 45 when drivers ahead took advantage of the caution for Will Power and pit. He passed Chaves for 9th on Lap 47 and held the position until three-stoppers began to pit. He was in seventh place when a caution came out for Veach. As the front runners pit during the caution, he stayed on track and cycled to second place.  When the race went green on Lap 60/105, he held second place behind Ryan Hunter-Reay for a total of 14 laps before Hunter-Reay have to make another stop.  He took over the lead on Lap 71 and held it until he made his final stop on Lap 76. He returned to the track in second place to Max Chilton, who still had to pit. A caution came out for Ferrucci. The race went green on Lap 81 and Chilton pit for fuel on Lap 85. Sato had a 0.74-second lead over Hunter-Reay which he build to one second by Lap 100 of 105. He held off Hunter-Reay and took the checkered flag 0.6084 ahead of him to win… 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 TEN 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 dropped from 10th in series point standings to 11th with 297 points.

OLIVER ASKEW, No. 45 Hy-Vee Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “Unfortunately our race in the #45 Hy-Vee Honda didn’t pan out the way we had hoped. We had some contact in Turn 1 at the start which put us on the back foot right away. We fought back up to 15th place, and everyone did a really good job on strategy, and the pit stops were clean so that helped us out there. Then on one of the restarts we got hit from behind again in Turn 2 and that pretty much stopped our race right there, I couldn’t get the car back in gear and had to park it. Unfortunate day for us after what seemed to be a very promising start to the weekend. Now I’m looking forward to next week in Laguna Seca.”

  • FAST FACTS: Started ninth and charged through the field alongside Rahal but contact dropped him to 24th. As he was in the back of the field, he pit to top off on fuel near the end of the caution on Lap 9.  Later in the race, he was running 15th when Bourdais hit him in the rear of the car and spun him around. During the turn, the clutch became inoperable and INDYCAR parked the car behind a retaining wall and he retired in 24th… Made his first INDYCAR start at the track as well as his first for the team… He has earned four podiums in four races here in the INDYCAR Road to Indy program. He won the Indy Pro 2000 series event (Race 1) in 2018, finished second (Race 1) and third (Race 2) in Indy Lights in 2019, and also finished third in the Indy Pro 2000 (Race 2) in 2018… This will be the third INDYCAR race for him this season after substituting for Rosenqvist at Race 2 in Detroit and for Veekay at Road America.

NEXT UP: The Firestone Grand Prix of Laguna Seca will take place next Sunday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.