Askew Set the Sixth Fastest Time in Practice for the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey; Rahal and Sato Were 17th and 19th

Rahal Letterman Lanigan RacingFirestone Grand Prix of Monterey
PRACTICE NOTES/QUOTES – September 17, 2021


1)         Josef Newgarden         1:11.7125 / 112.349 mph       
6)         Oliver Askew               1:12.1516 / 111.665 mph
17)        Graham Rahal              1:12.8486 / 110.596 mph       
19)       Takuma Sato                 1:12.9923 / 110.379 mph       

GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 United Rentals Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “One practice in the books at Laguna Seca. We waited quite a while to go run and just missed it on the first tire set. I was in a lot of traffic, a lot of people were and unfortunately that traffic just kind of – on the good laps I missed the tire so by the time I went it was just too late. My fastest lap was also quite sloppy. Going through the corkscrew I had a huge moment and lost two to three tenths (of a second) in the exit there which cost me a lot. It is what it is, we’re not quite good enough here this weekend so far. We’ll put our heads down tonight and try and come up with some new ideas and go back at it tomorrow.  I know with Oliver’s car they ran two sets of tires and it seemed like his second set was a lot better pace wise, much more competitive, so we are going to look at what they’re doing and hopefully get the United Rentals car up front.”

  • FAST FACTS: Will be his second Indy car race here. In 2019, he started eighth and lost two positions on the start to Hunter-Reay and Ferrucci. He dropped to 11th on Lap 5 when Rosenqvist passed him and cycled as high as fifth place before his second pit stop on Lap 39. He ran 10th for the majority of his next stint before his third and final stop and came out 11th. He later lost a position to Hunter-Reay on Lap 68 of 90 and ultimately took the checkered flag 12th…  His highest start of the season is fifth at Portland and his highest finish is third at Texas Motor Speedway… 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)… He is seventh in series point standings with a total of 342.

TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 Panasonic / Mi-Jack Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “I’m very happy to be back in Laguna Seca — a fan favorite. I think we all really enjoy this challenging track. I missed the test so today was a little more challenging – only 10 laps I think. Tire degradation was quite big so you had to do it (your fast lap) within four laps. But at least we did a run on a Friday which for a long time we didn’t have it since some of the street courses so it’s really nice to get the three cars’ data tonight and go through all the analysis and get back tomorrow feeling better. I generally feel very positive and hopefully we have a stronger day tomorrow.”

  • FAST FACTS: Will be his second race here. In 2019, he started 16th and was later running in 11th place when a caution came out for contact between Daly and Andretti on Lap 45. After the restart, Sato was hit by Ferrucci, who served a penalty for avoidable contact in Turn 2, and dropped to 21st place. Based on the positions that drivers were running in at the season finale, he was still on target to finish the season sixth in points. He moved up to 19th but later pit to check for damage to the race car from the previous incident that impacted the steering. He continued to race in an attempt to salvage points and took the checkered flag in 21st place but lost three positions in the series standings due to the double points race… 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 is 11th in series point standings with 297 points. 

OLIVER ASKEW, No. 45 Hy-Vee Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “First session out here at Laguna Seca, and my first time here in an Indy car. My last time I was here was in 2019 with Indy Lights. It’s fantastic to be back, it’s a super tricky circuit but very enjoyable when you get it right and it felt good today, ended up P6 in practice. It’s going to be important for us to build on that in practice 2 tomorrow and ultimately qualifying tomorrow afternoon. Our Hy-Vee Honda felt good today and we will see what happens tomorrow.” 

  • FAST FACTS: Is making his first INDYCAR start at the track and his second for the team.  He qualified 9th at Portland but had an incident at the start that dropped him back and he was hit from behind by Bourdais later and retired…. He previously competed in the Indy Lights races here in 2019 with a fourth place (Race 1) and second-place finish (Race 2) as well as won the shootout for the Mazda Road to Indy scholarship in 2016.  This will be the fourth INDYCAR race for him this season after substituting for Rosenqvist at Race 2 in Detroit and for VeeKay at Road America.

RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT LAGUNA SECA … Will mark the 14th Indy car event for RLL at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and second since 12 consecutive races here from 1992-2003. The team has also competed in ALMS and IMSA races here from 2009-2020 as BMW Team RLL and has earned three wins, three poles and a total of 10 podium finishes to date – including pole and a second-place finish in 2019.  The Indy car team has earned three wins, three poles and a total of six podiums (1st – Herta 1998-1999; Papis 2001; 2nd – Herta 1996; 3rd: B. Rahal 1992, Papis 1999) as well as three straight pole positions (Herta 1997-1999).  Prior to the 2021 event, the team prepared a total of 23 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), Graham Rahal (2019) and Takuma Sato (2019).

NEXT UP:  Practice 2 will take place tomorrow from 10:00-10:45 a.m. PT and qualifying will take place from 1:35-2:50 p.m. ET.  Peacock will broadcast all sessions live. Timing and Scoring information and live streaming video is also available for all sessions from and includes live commentary. The Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey will be televised live on NBC beginning at 3 PM ET Sunday, September 19.