Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach
Round 16 of 16 in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES
QUALIFYING NOTES/QUOTES – Saturday, September 25, 2021
SATO, RAHAL AND ASKEW TO START 16TH, 19TH AND 28TH IN THE ACURA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH SEASON FINALE
1) Josef Newgarden 1:08.2241 / 103.846 mph (Group 1, Round 3)
16) Takuma Sato 1:09.3814 / 102.114 mph (Group 2, Round 1)
19) Graham Rahal 1:09.3998 / 102.087 mph (Group 1, Round 1)
28) Oliver Askew 1:10.0178 / 101.186 mph (Group 2, Round 1)
GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Total Quartz Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “We actually ended up with the fastest lap time of our teammates but unfortunately in Group 1 it didn’t count. As Harvey actually crashed behind me, but when he crashed behind me they called the red, so I didn’t get to complete the lap. So unfortunately, we’re going to start 19th, which is not very good at all. We’ve struggled all weekend, it’s been no secret. What surprised me was to see Takuma and Oliver not be able to go quicker. I thought that they would have a good chance to improve based on the information that we relayed. We’re going to work hard to get the Total Quartz machine to the front.”
FAST FACTS: Will be his 14th Champ or Indy car race here and 15th overall … His top finish is second place in 2013 with RLL after starting 11th and top start is fifth in 2007 with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing and he finished eighth after slow fuel flow pit strategy… A recap of results is available upon request… He also competed in the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Series race here… 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. He is currently ranked 7th in series point standings with 374 points.
TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 Panasonic / Shield Cleansers Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “In qualifying we had more temperature. It was nice and sunny, a great atmosphere but unfortunately it somewhat affected our balance and grip level so we struggled in the car. It started fighting and then we just couldn’t get great speed. But I think we have good pace, there’s some indication of good pace on the longer runs as well as with primary tires with my Q1 speed. Hopefully tomorrow’s warmup we will work hard to get the car speed up and hopefully we have a competitive day tomorrow.”
FAST FACTS: Will be his 11th race here… His highest start and finish here came in 2013 with A.J. Foyt Enterprises when he led 50 laps and won from a fourth-place start. The race prior to that was with RLL in 2012 and he led 16 laps and was third when he was hit by Hunter-Reay on the final lap and finished eighth after starting eighth. His other top-10 start came in 2016 with Foyt (8th) and other top-10 finish was fifth in 2016, also with Foyt… 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: “It was not the greatest qualifying for us on the No. 45 Hy-Vee car. It was very difficult out there. We missed the setup a little bit and unfortunately didn’t advance into the fast 12. Then a miscommunication caused us to get a penalty for impeding another car so we just need to put it behind us now and move on to tomorrow.”
FAST FACTS: Brought out the red flag after he brushed the wall with his right rear wheel and stopped on course, which ended his session early… Askew is making his racing debut on the street of Long Beach in his third start with the team. He qualified ninth at Portland but was involved in a Lap 1 incident and was later hit from behind and retired from the event. He went on to match his best INDYCAR start of fifth place for the Firestone Grand Prix of Laguna Seca. In the race, 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 and took the checkered flag ninth, for a top-10 finish.
3 POLES, 6 PODIUMS FOR RLL IN 20 INDY CAR RACES AT LONG BEACH: This marks the 21st time for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) to compete in the main event. In total, the team has won three poles (Herta 1998, Vasser 2002, Jourdain, Jr. 2003); made five front row starts including an all-Team Rahal front row in 1998 (2nd – Rahal 1998, Brack 2001); earned their best finish of second place four times (Rahal 1992-1993, Vasser 2002, G. Rahal 2013) and earned six podiums here (2nd – Rahal 1992-1993, Vasser 2002 & G. Rahal 2013; 3rd – Herta 1998-1999). Although the team didn’t compete in Indy car races here from 2004-2011 while they fielded a fulltime entry in the Indy Racing League (2004-2008), they did compete in the 2003 and 2004 Atlantic races with Danica Patrick and in the 2007 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race.