Photo Courtesy of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Rahal Letterman Lanigan RacingFirestone Grand Prix of Monterey
NTT INDYCAR SERIES
RACE NOTES/QUOTES – September 19, 2021

RAHAL FINISHED FOURTH IN THE FIRESTONE GRAND PRIX OF MONTEREY; ASKEW AND SATO BOTH RAN AT THE FRONT AND FINISHED 9TH AND 27TH

GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 United Rentals Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “A fourth place finish for us in Monterey in the United Rentals machine. It was a solid day. Obviously, we would have liked to finish on the podium or be able to challenge.  At the start I think it took us a little longer to get our momentum going through maybe into the second stint before we started to pass guys and get moving forward. Our guys were once again excellent in the pits. Squirrel (race engineer, Allan McDonald), Eddie (Jones), Brandon (Fry), all the engineers and everybody across the three cars has done a great job to get these race cars more competitive. Obviously, it would have been nice to start up front and we should’ve; it was my mistake yesterday. Starting up front would have made us potentially even a winner today. I’m super proud of our guys, super proud of the organization, we are moving forward, we are getting better. I passed more cars today then maybe any race all year. The United Rentals guys did an excellent job in the pits once again. We raised almost another $5,000 for Turns For Troops to help with Veterans. It was another solid result on the year.”

  • FAST FACTS: Rahal started 12th and ran as high as fourth before his first stop on Lap 18/95. The handling of his race car was better halfway through his second stint and he gained a few spots before he made his second stop from third place on Lap 40.  He pit from second place for his second stop on Lap 67 and was able to leapfrog O’Ward by staying out longer. He held third place for 11 laps before Grosjean, whose tires had six less laps on them, passed him on Lap 84/95.  He held on to finish fourth…. Was 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 374. 

TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 Panasonic / Mi-Jack Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “So we had a very sweet race the first half of the race. We took advantage of an early pitstop for the first yellow and then the car was great. This morning I was the third fastest in warmup so totally different from yesterday’s car and it worked very well. I really enjoyed the racing, overtaking lots of cars today and we went as high as second. Our pace was exactly the same as the leader, which was very positive. But on the third stint, unfortunately I clipped the curb on the inside of the corkscrew, which I had never done but I did it somehow.  I made a mistake and spun. Then unfortunately we got tangled with Dixon and the diffuser was damaged and the track rod was broken so I came back to the pit and changed the things. But unfortunately, the car was way too damaged and we had to retire in the end. We had a great potential today to finish really high, but the last few races I think the team has found a lot of speed. It’s very positive, and hopefully we have a good race in Long Beach.”

  • FAST FACTS: After starting 23rd, he capitalized on an early caution for Rossi to make a stop on Lap 3 to switch to the faster alternate tires and top off on fuel. He began a charge through the field by passing Rosenqvist, Kellott, Bourdais, Johnson, Castroneves and others and cycled up to second place before his second stop on Lap 24. He was in 10th place when he ran wide on the curb in the corkscrew and spun.  As he was trying to resume, he made light contact with Dixon. He immediately pit to check for damage and the track rod was replaced and he rejoined the race in 27th, which he held until he retired from the race after 83 of 95 laps… Was 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 12th in series point standings with 302 points.

OLIVER ASKEW, No. 45 Hy-Vee Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “We finished ninth in the No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda with RLL. It was a long, very physical race.  I thought we had some good pace. Unfortunately, we lost a couple of spots there in pit lane on the first stop. I’m happy with a top-10 today. We had great pace all weekend and great momentum moving into Long Beach. We started fifth and got shuffled back a little bit on the start with the championship contenders next to me;  they were a bit ruthless. And then we had a slow pit stop unfortunately here and that lost us a couple of positions, and then the race went green to the end after that initial yellow. We made a couple of good overtakes on guys who were trying to make it on a two-stop strategy. I’m happy with today and happy with the weekend overall.”

  • FAST FACTS: After starting fifth, he was passed on the opening lap by four cars and ran 9th.  He battled with Grosjean and others before he regained fifth place and made his first of three stops on Lap 15. He lost some spots after a problem on the inside front and returned to the track in 18th place. He recovered a bit and cycled into fifth place before his second stop on Lap 41. He returned to the track in 13th place and steadily climbed up the order ahead of McLaughlin and others to fourth before his third stop on Lap 69.  He ran in eighth place the majority on the final stint but was passed by Newgarden.  Matched his best INDYCAR SERIES start of fifth place at the Indy Grand Prix in 2020… He made 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 was the fourth INDYCAR race for him this season after substituting for Rosenqvist at Race 2 in Detroit and for VeeKay at Road America.