Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey QUALIFYING NOTES/QUOTES – September 18, 2021

Rahal Letterman Lanigan RacingFirestone Grand Prix of Monterey
QUALIFYING NOTES/QUOTES – September 18, 2021


1)         Colton Herta                1:10.7994 / 113.798 mph       
5)         Oliver Askew               1:11.8937 / 112.065 mph
12)        Graham Rahal             1:12.5932 / 110.986 mph       
23)       Takuma Sato                1:12.1443 / 111.676 mph       

GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 United Rentals Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “Qualifying is in the books here in Laguna Seca. I clearly spun in Group 2 and we were actually on pace to advance without a problem. That’s on me you know, I was just pushing hard and it just tracked out up Turn 6 and the car bottomed on the curb, and that was it. We just lost control. Unfortunately, we just have to focus on tomorrow. We’re going to start 12th. It was nice to advance to Q2, we were in a pretty stacked first group so to be able to get through was a great sign. We’ve got to keep our heads down and focus on what we’ve got to do tomorrow. It’s going to be a tough day. Tire deg (degradation) is going to be a major issue and hopefully we can sneak up there into the top five.”

  • 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: “Qualifying didn’t go well at all, it was tough. We had a little difficulty in practice and weren’t really able to carry on the performance in qualifying. We predicted the direction we wanted and that was opposite of what it has been in qualifying. It was a pity but at least the teammates made a pretty good qualifying so we can share some things and figure out what we can do tomorrow. But today we had a really tough day.”

  • 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: “Fantastic qualifying here today for the Hy-Vee No. 45 guys from Rahal Letterman Lanigan. I felt really good in the car and the car complimented me as well and when you get it right around here it feels really good, when you get it wrong not as much. Today we got it right. It was a really enjoyable session and I’m looking forward to starting in the top-five tomorrow. Hopefully we have a strong run. I’m very happy with that run and obviously really happy for Hy-Vee No. 45 Honda guys and everyone at Rahal Letterman Lanigan. This is exactly what we needed – a good starting spot for tomorrow here is extremely important because, as we know, it is difficult to pass.”

  • FAST FACTS: Matched his best INDYCAR SERIES start of fifth place at the Indy Grand Prix in 2020. He 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:  Warm up will take place tomorrow from 9:00-9:30 AM PT and the 85 laps Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey will be televised live on NBC beginning at 3 PM ET Sunday, September 19.