RLL Team Preview: Sonsio Grand Prix of Road America

Rahal Letterman Lanigan RacingPre-Race Notes
Sonsio Grand Prix of Road America
Round 7 of 17 in the 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES

DATE:     June 10-12, 2022

PRACTICE BROADCAST:     Live on Peacock Premium on Friday from 4:25 – 5:40 p.m. ET and on Saturday from 10:45 – 11:45 a.m. and 5:20 – 5:50 p.m. ET.  Also live on the INDYCAR Radio Network (IRN) and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis).

QUALIFYING BROADCAST:     Live on Peacock Premium, the IRN and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis) from 1:45 – 3 p.m. ET Saturday.

RACE BROADCAST:     Live on NBC Sunday, June 12 from 12:30 – 3:00 p.m. ET. And also on Peacock Premium, IRN, Sirius 211 and XM 205

TRACK LAYOUT:     4.048-mile, 14-turn permanent road course
RACE LENGTH:     55 laps / 222.6 miles
2021 WINNER:     Alex Palou
2021 POLESITTER:     Josef Newgarden (1:46.0186 / 136.301 mph)                

RAHAL’S BEST ROAD AMERICA START / FINISH:     4th in 2007 (NHLR) and 2020 (RLL; Race 1) / 3rd in 2007 & 2016; will be his 9th Indy car race here
RAHAL’S HIGHEST SERIES START / FINISH:     3 poles – Pole at St. Pete (street) 2009, Kansas (oval) 2009, Detroit Race 1 (street) 2017
6 wins – 1st in St. Pete in 2008, Fontana & Mid-Ohio 2015, Texas 2016, Detroit Race 1 & Race 2 2017

LUNDGAARD’S BEST SERIES START / FINISH:     4th – ’21 Indy GP, Race 2 / 9th – ’22 Indy GP

HARVEY’S BEST START / FINISH AT ROAD AMERICA:     2nd in 2021 – Race 1 / 15th in 2019; will be his 5th race here
HARVEY’S HIGHEST SERIES START / FINISH:     2nd – Indy GP & Road America (2020), St. Pete 2021 / 3rd at the Indy GP (2019)

RLL’S BEST START / FINISH AT ROAD AMERICA:     1st – Kenny Brack (2001) / 2nd – Bobby Rahal (1996); 20 races here


The 2022 REV Group Grand Prix at Road America will mark the 20th time for Rahal Letterman Lanigan (RLL) Racing to compete in an Indy car race here.  The team competed in CART and Champ Car-sanctioned races here from 1992-2003 and again since 2016 with a best starting position of pole by Kenny Brack in 2001 and best finish of second place by Bobby Rahal in 1996. The team has earned a total of five podium finishes here (2nd – B. Rahal 1996; 3rd – B. Rahal 1992-1993, Kenny Brack 2000, Graham Rahal 2016).

Prior to 2022, the team prepared a total of 34 Indy car entries for drivers such as Bobby Rahal (1992-1998), Mike Groff (1993-94), Raul Boesel (1995), Bryan Herta (1996-99), Max Papis (1999-2001), Kenny Brack (2000-01), Jimmy Vasser (2002), Michel Jourdain (2002-2003), Graham Rahal (2016-2020; two races in ’20. ‘21) and Takuma Sato (2018-2020; two races in ’20, ‘21).  The team will enter the No. 15 Fifth Third Bank entry for Graham Rahal, the No. 30 Fleet Cost & Care entry for Christian Lundgaard and the No 45 Hy-Vee entry for Jack Harvey to bring that total to 37 in 2022.  

The Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America will be Graham Rahal’s ninth Champ or Indy car race here and 13th overall. In eight Indy car races here, he has two third place finishes (2007, 2016), a fourth place (2019), sixth (2018) and eighth (2017). Last year he ran at the front in each session, with the exception of qualifying and the race. After starting 14th, he cycled as high as fourth before his first stop but struggled with the handling of his race car at various times throughout the race and finished 11th. In 2020, he matched his best start of fourth place for Race 1 and passed second place starter Harvey for third by Turn 1. He held the position and set his fastest lap of the race on Lap 8 when he passed Hunter-Reay for second. He started pursuit of leader Newgarden and closed the gap by 0.4 seconds as the pit window began to open between laps 12-14. He ran between 2.2-2.5-seconds behind Newgarden and took over the lead on Lap 13 when he pit. When he made his first of three stops on the following lap, he held a 4.3-second lead on Ferrucci. There was a problem with the fueling and the extended seconds in the pit dropped him to 11th place and 21-seconds behind the leader when he returned to the track. By the time the second pit stops started to take place, he cycled up to sixth before making his second stop on Lap 27 of 55. He settled into eighth place and moved into seventh when Harvey appeared to have a car issue that brought out the full course caution. The field made their third stops once the pits opened. Rahal held seventh through the restart and was unable to hold off a last lap charge by Ericsson, who had more Push-to-Pass, but then spun off course and Rahal took the checkered flag in seventh to keep his top-10 finish streak at the track alive. Rahal planned to realize the potential of a fast car on one of his favorite tracks in Race 2 but didn’t make it past the opening lap after qualifying fifth when he was hit by Will Power in Turn 3. The hard hit sent him off course and into two different concrete walls in Turn 3. Power had previously made contact with Hunter-Reay in Turn 1 and was penalized for “avoidable contact” and had to go to the back of the field for the restart. He is looking forward to getting back to Road America for a good weekend.
            “I think for my family, Road America is just a place we connect to. With my grandfather racing there for so many years, then my father, and now me, it’s a special place overall for us. It’s one of the main events that I highlight every year and look forward to. I can’t wait to go; it’s been a good place for us. Last year was a little bit of a struggle, but in years prior as a team we’ve always done a great job there. I believe that it’s a place that we can get our footing back underneath us. I do think our road course package is probably our highlight right now so we are going to try to work on that and do even better, try to go faster and try to go further forward. That’s of course always the objective, but I think right now we could use a good, solid weekend as a team and I think Road America is a place we can do that.”

Road America has long been a team and fan favorite. And although this will be Christian Lundgaard’s first time on the course, its one he has been excited about for a while. His best start (4th) and finish (9th) in the series has come on a road course (IMS road course 4th in 2021 / 9th in 2022) and he is hoping to continue the progress made at the previous road course event at IMS where he started eighth and finished ninth despite intermittent rain and lack of visibility
           “I’m very much looking forward to going to Road America and seeing where we stand. I do believe that Road America will be one of our better races. It will be nice to see the Fleet Cost & Care car in action again, for once on my car rather than Graham’s car and I do believe we can deliver a good result for them as well.
            “Road America is one of the ones I look forward to. I hear its very similar to the European tracks, it’s the one that the European drivers look the most forward to because they know their way around. I just want to have fun; I want to get a good result. We all want one, we are due for sure. We’ve just got to put everything together and we will be there for sure.”

In the past three of his four races at Road America, Harvey has started 3rd (2021), 2nd (2020 Race 1) and 9th (2020 Race 2). A variety of factors, most out of his control, limited his best finish to 15th (2019). He is looking forward to his fifth INDYCAR start at the track and returning to a road course to continue the momentum the team has been building.
            “I’m really excited for Road America. It’s a track that recently we’ve been very strong at. I just love being there, it’s probably one of my favorite places to be in North America. I absolutely love everything about the track, love the area and am just really excited to be back. 
            “I feel like the team have traditionally been quite strong there and I’ve been quite strong there. So honestly, I’m  quite optimistic for what we can achieve together this weekend. Obviously, I would like to see the No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda be as far up the field as possible, but I really do believe that we can go there, have a successful weekend and start getting it in the direction we want, start getting the results that we all know and believe we can get together. I think the road course cars have a bunch of potential which we showed in Barber, and, showed the progression into the Indy road course. Obviously, we had a really fast car then so there is no reason why we can’t do that this coming weekend.”

Heading into Round 8 at the Sonsio Grand Prix, Rahal has a total of 135 points and is ranked 15th overall. Lundgaard is the highest ranked rookie in 17th with 119 points and Harvey is 20th with 88.