Pre-Race Notes for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach: Rahal, Lundgaard & Harvey

Rahal Letterman Lanigan RacingPre-Race Notes
Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach — Streets of Long Beach, Calif.
Round 3 of 17 in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES

DATE:     Friday – Sunday, April 8-10, 2022

PRACTICE BROADCAST:     Live on Peacock Premium on Friday from 6:15 – 7:15 p.m. ET, Saturday from 11:45 – 12:45 p.m. ET and Sunday from 12:00 – 12:30 p.m. ET.  Also live on the INDYCAR Radio Network (IRN) and (timing & scoring + live analysis).

QUALIFYING BROADCAST:     Live on Peacock Premium, the IRN and (timing & scoring + live analysis) from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday.

RACE BROADCAST:     Live on NBC on Sunday, April 10 from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. ET. And also on Peacock Premium, IRN and Sirius XM 160.

TRACK LAYOUT:     1.968-mile, 11-turn street course
RACE LENGTH:     85 laps / 167.28 miles 
2021 WINNER:     Colton Herta
2021 POLESITTER:     Josef Newgarden (1:08.2241 / 103.846 mph)

RLL’S BEST START / FINISH AT LONG BEACH:     3 poles (Herta 1998, Vasser 2002, Jourdain, Jr. 2003) / 2nd – four times (B. Rahal 1992-1993, Vasser 2002, G. Rahal 2013)

RAHAL’S BEST START / FINISH AT LONG BEACH:     5th in 2007 / 2nd in 2013; will be his 15th Indy car race here and 16th overall
RAHAL’S HIGHEST SERIES START / FINISH:     3 Poles – St. Pete (street) 2009, Kansas (oval) 2009, Detroit (street) 2017 / 6 Wins – St. Pete 2008, Fontana (oval; 500 miles) 2015, Mid-Ohio (road) 2015, Texas (oval) 2016; Detroit Race 1 2017, Detroit Race 2 2017

LUNDGAARD’S BEST START / FINISH IN LONG BEACH:     He is making his debut here
LUNDGAARD’S HIGHEST SERIES START / FINISH:     4th at the Indy GP (Harvest GP; road) 2021 / 11th – St Pete 2022

HARVEY’S BEST START / FINISH IN LONG BEACH:     17th (2018) / 7th2021); will be his 4th INDYCAR race here and 6th overall
HARVEY’S HIGHEST SERIES START / FINISH:     2nd – Indy GP & Road America (2020), St. Pete 2021 / 3rd at the Indy GP (2019)


The 2022 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach (AGPLB) marks the 22nd time for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) to compete in the event.  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. From 2009-2019, the team competed on the streets of Long Beach in the GTLM class of the ALMS/IMSA with BMW Team RLL and as finished on the podium each year but 2016-2019 although they started from pole in 2016 and led all three of those races. The venue is still the most successful for the team on the current IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule with wins in 2011, 2013 and 2015, eight podium finishes and five poles in 11 years. BMW M Team RLL has a one-car entry in the GTD Pro Class of IMSA and is competing here this weekend.

In RLL’s 21 previous Indy car races in Long Beach, the team entered 37 cars for drivers such as Bobby Rahal (1992-1998), Mike Groff (1994), Raul Boesel (1995), Bryan Herta (1996-1999), Max Papis (1999-2001), Kenny Brack (2000-2001), Jimmy Vasser (2002), Michel Jourdain (2002-2003), Takuma Sato (2012, 2018-19, 2021), Graham Rahal (2013-2019, 2021), James Jakes (2013), Mike Conway (2013), Oriol Servia (2014) and Oliver Askew (2021).  In total, the team 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 (2nd – Rahal 1992-1993, Vasser 2002 & G. Rahal 2013; 3rd – Herta 1998-1999). The team has entered the No. 15 Total Quartz Honda for Graham Rahal, the No. 30 Shield Cleansers Honda for Christian Lundgaard and the No 45 Hy-Vee Honda for Jack Harvey in this year’s race.

The 2022 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach will be Graham’s 15th Champ/Indy car race here and 16th overall. His best IndyCar start here is fifth in 2007 and best finish is second place in 2013.  In 2021, he ran as high as second place two times and led four laps by utilizing an alternate strategy after starting 19th but the timing of a caution for contact between teammate Askew and Daly while he was on his in-lap for his final pit stop dropped him to 20th. He came back to finish 16th. He’s hoping to pick up where the team left off in terms of competitiveness this weekend.  
            “Long Beach is a huge race weekend for us. Outside of the Indy 500. Long Beach is likely the second largest race of the entire season. There is a lot of history, 40+ years there. It’s always a beautiful place to race. INDYCAR racing and the Long Beach Grand Prix is a huge part of the fabric of Southern California and particularly that city. We’re excited to go. It’s become a second home race for me because my wife being from 20 minutes or so down the road. A lot of family and a lot of friends go to the race and I’m hoping for a great result. We’ve been very competitive there in recent times, we’ve been able to get up front. Last year in particular, the car was very fast, we just got a little bit unlucky in the race. We’re obviously going to try to get the Quartz machine up front and try to find a way to win this thing. I have been close, I’ve finish on the podium in second a bunch of years ago. It would be nice to finally get a Rahal in Victory Lane out there in Long Beach.
            “Historically we have done well there and particularly over the last three-to-four years. We’ve finished in the top five consecutively. And then last year we were quite quick but got caught out with an unlucky yellow. That does happen unfortunately on the street courses when you get caught out like that and you do cycle towards the back of the field. There’s not much you can do. We do expect to have a very competitive car though.  In fact, the set up that we’ll go there with is very similar to what we would have raced there at the end of last year. Expectations are high. Belief that we can go win is definitely there. We’ve been close many times as a family, my dad finished second there several times (four), I finished second there but a Rahal has never won though so it would definitely be on the Bucket List of family things to do, to win Long Beach so hopefully we can get it done.”

Christian Lundgaard will finally get to experience Long Beach in person after hearing about the event from many people. After making his oval racing debut at the previous race at Texas Motor Speedway, and making an impressive “save,” he came away 15th in series point standings and the top rookie. He is looking forward to getting on the historic Long Beach course.
           “I’m looking forward for Long Beach. I’ve heard a lot of great things about Long Beach and have done plenty of laps in the sim here at home. It’s about preparing as much as possible and getting as much feedback prior to the event as possible. I have done so much work but, you know it’s all going to pay off at some point, I’m sure. I’m looking forward to get to Long Beach. I’m sure it’s going to be a good weekend. All my experience I gained from St. Pete is obviously something I want to bring forward for the rest of the season. I think finally getting to drive the Indy car around the street circuit at St. Pete helped me massively for the rest of the season. The progress we made throughout the weekend – the first practice I think we were P25 out of 27 cars isn’t where we want to be but I’m happy with the progress we made throughout the weekend. We started slow and ended up being quite quick and competitive in the race and I think this is what we need to do for the season. Going into Long Beach now, that experience has helped me to prepare even better. I’m pretty stoked for a new event, a new track, a new experience to gain so let’s see what it brings.”

After being cleared to compete by the INDYCAR medical team following his incident on Saturday, March 19 at Texas Motor Speedway, Jack will make his competitive return to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. He has competed in three INDYCAR races there with his best finish of seventh place coming last year after he led one lap. He also has experience starting up front after having won pole in one of this two Indy Lights races at the track in 2015.
            “I’m really excited for Long Beach. Last year we had a really great race, showed plenty of speed. We started toward the back and ended up finishing seventh so it’s a track I personally feel I’ve had good history at. I was on pole there in Indy Lights but unfortunately, we had an incident in Turn 1 which took me out of the race. Long beach is just a track I look at with incredible optimism for just how I can perform. I know the team might not have had the result that they could have had last year but I know the cars are quick. At this point I’m just excited to be back in the 45 Hy-Vee Honda in Long Beach.
            “Long Beach in general is a really tricky circuit. There are so many corners where you are rolling a lot of speed through there, trying to get a nice balance of the rear just rotating enough without adding any additional understeer. There is obviously such a long straight so you want to try and run the car as trim as possible but there are a lot of corners there that are really quite challenging so trying to find that perfect balance of mechanical balance and aero balance is obviously going to be difficult but I’m really excited about the direction we are headed as a team. I know the first two races haven’t gone how we would have all hoped they might have. That being said, I think there is a lot of optimism in the team right now. I think we are doing a lot of really good things, we just need to put together a complete weekend. The best thing that has happened to me since Texas is that I got medically cleared to drive but I think the way we’ve been approaching it is if we’re medical cleared to drive, we’re cleared to try and go win so that’s going to be our goal.”

“Alternate tires are something fairly new for me. Obviously in my prior categories, like Formula 2, we had what we call options and prime tires which can be different from round to round so I have some experience with the softer and harder compounds but obviously at the Indy GP last year I struggled the most with understanding how much you could push the tire because what I’m used to previously is tire saving the whole race. I learned more about that in St. Pete and am looking forward for Long Beach. It’s going to be something new again. I have more experience, I have more knowledge and have been working hard with the engineers and whole team in general to prepare. Let’s see how it goes. Let’s show it on track.”

Rahal is ranked 12th in series point standings with a total of 34. Rookie Lundgaard is 15th with 30 and is the highest ranked rookie. Jack Harvey missed the Texas race and is ranked 26th with 17 points.