Rahal, Harvey and Lundgaard Look Forward to Start of 2023 NTT INDYCAR Season in St. Petersburg – RACE NOTES

Source: Team PR

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Pre-Race Notes
Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg – Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida
Round 1 of 17 in the 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES

DATE:     Friday – Sunday, March 3-5, 2023

PRACTICE BROADCAST:     Live on Peacock Premium on Friday from 3:00–4:15 p.m. ET, Saturday from 10:00–11:00 a.m. ET and Sunday from 9:00–9:30 a.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 2:15 – 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday.

RACE BROADCAST:     Live on NBC Sunday, March 5 from 12-3 p.m. ET. And also on Peacock Premium, IRN and Sirius XM 160.

TRACK LAYOUT:     1.8-mile, 14-turn street course
RACE LENGTH:     100 laps / 181 miles
2022 WINNER:     Scott McLaughlin
2022 POLESITTER:     Scott McLaughlin (59.4821; 108.940 mph)

RLL’S TOP START / FINISH AT ST. PETE:     5th by Sato in 2018 / 2nd by Rahal in 2018; will be team’s 16th event here

RAHAL’S BEST START / FINISH IN ST. PETE:     1st in 2009 / 1st in 2008 – both with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing; will be his 16th 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

HARVEY’S BEST START / FINISH IN ST. PETE:     2nd in 2021 / 4th in 2021; will be his sixth race here
HARVEY’S HIGHEST SERIES START / FINISH:     2nd – Indy GP & Road America (2020), St. Pete 2021 / 3rd at the Indy GP (2019)

LUNDGAARD’S BEST START / FINISH IN ST. PETE:     15th / 11th – both in 2022; will be his 2nd race here
LUNDGAARD’S BEST SERIES START / FINISH:     3rd at Nashville & Portland 2022 / 2nd at the July Indy GP 2022


The 2023 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will mark the 16th INDYCAR SERIES race for Rahal Letterman Lanigan (RLL) Racing in St. Petersburg. The team has entered the No. 15 United Rentals Honda for Graham Rahal, the No. 30 Kustom Entertainment Honda for Jack Harvey and the No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda for Christian Lundgaard.  The team led 11 laps with Takuma Sato in 2012 and four laps with Hunter-Reay in 2008 (G. Rahal won w/NHLR that year) and has earned six top-10 finishes. The highest starting position by the team is fifth place by Takuma Sato and highest finish is second by Graham Rahal – both in 2018. 

In 2023, Graham will make his 16th Indy car start at this track. His best start here is pole in 2009 and best finish is a win in 2008 in his INDYCAR SERIES debut – both history-making moments at the time as he became the youngest race winner in series history (2008), and youngest pole winner in series history (2009). Both records were eclipsed in 2019 by Colton Herta but he held them for 10 and 11 years, respectively. Overall, he has earned one top-five and seven top-10 starts here and has two top-five and six top-10 finishes. Year-by-year details are available upon request. Last year, he started 11th, pit for his second stop from third place and ultimately finished seventh in the race. In 2023, he has reunited with race engineer Eddie Jones, whom he worked with for five of his six victories. Another change includes a new voice on the radio with Team Manager Derek Davidson calling race strategy.

 “I feel really good about where we’re at this year. I think Stefano (Sordo, technical director) has brought in a great mindset, but I think also organizationally from the team perspective we seem to be in a much better place also. Everybody is working towards achieving the same goals. I do urge a little bit of patience though as many of the areas will take some time to develop but overall I feel really good about where we stand.

“I’m excited to be back with (race engineer) Eddie (Jones). He and I won five times in three years. We know how to win together, and hopefully we can get this thing back on track. We’re pretty fired up about it. Eddie and I are kind of both pretty low-key guys. We’re on the same page. Super fiery and competitive, but off the track I think we both have a similar mindset. Adam Kolesar is my assistant engineer again and a lot of my core group is still together and Derek Davidson is on my car as well this year as strategist. I’m excited about that because I’ve never gotten to work with Double D in that regard, and he’s a guy I have tremendous respect for as a leader, an organizer and a manager and everything else. We had a solid run at St. Pete last year. We were fairly quick, particularly in Q1 (Round 1 of qualifying) and in Q2 but we lost our way a little but we’ve worked hard on some simulator stuff and we gained some things out of the Thermal test. Hopefully we can put all those pieces together that we learned in the off season and at Thermal and have a great year.”

British driver, Jack Harvey, returns to INDYCAR competition with a new race engineer (Allan McDonald), chief mechanic (Thomas Semik II) and strategist (Neil Fife). His career best results include a top start of second place three times – including at St. Pete in 2021 – and top finish of third at the Indy GP in 2019. He will make his sixth appearance in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete in 2023 and is looking forward to getting his season off to a good start. To date, he has started in the top-five two of his five races here and has two, top-10 finishes with his best being fourth place in 2021. Last year he started 23rd and was the first to stop to replace the less durable alternate Firestone tires on Lap 8 of 100 and was on a three-stop strategy. He made up ground and ultimately finished 13th.

“I think it’s been a really good off-season for us honestly. When the season finished, I went back to the UK for a little bit, and I think that was productive for me. It was just like a two-week trip. I came back ready to get back to work with a little bit of mental capacity to really dive into what went wrong in ’22, and one of the best feelings that I kind of left all of that with was feeling like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and we were aware of what we want to work on and put solutions in place to try and do that, and obviously we’ll see how well we’ve done that come race time. But one of the best things about the atmosphere of the team was that level of reciprocation of accountability, whether it was with me and what I felt like I needed to improve, from the engineers, to the mechanics. These are the reasons why I love being a part of RLL, because I was excited that everybody’s attitude and outlook was one of really just positivity and I think a really healthy approach to trying to have a better season.

“I think the off-season was great, and then in terms of 2023, what we’re hoping to achieve, it’s probably going out and just getting the results that we know we have the talent to get, whether it’s hopefully my talent or the team’s talent. I feel like I had a good off-season, but I feel like as an organization, Rahal Letterman Lanigan has had a really great one, as well, moving into the new building full time, the new acquisition and hires that we’ve got. I think it all will really contribute into something great. I think it’s the case now that really I feel like we have turned the page on last year.  

“The best thing about starting a new year is you get a new opportunity, and there’s while there is an opportunity for me to be a driver in this series, I’m going to go out and try and just be better than I was the previous year. I love what I get to do. I think I’m one of the luckiest people in the world to get to do this and call it a job. I think a lot of the off-season you haven’t heard any huge statements from anybody at RLL really. It’s been more of a case of the good old classic cliches, we want to go to the track and do our talking there. I feel like that’s been the attitude of work hard, say less, and let’s just crack on.”

2022 INDYCAR Rookie of the Year Christian Lundgaard, 21, will begin his second season in the series in 2023 and attempt to better his top start of third place in Nashville and Portland in 2022 and his highest finish of second place in the July ’22 Indy Grand Prix. In St. Pete last year, he started 15th, pit for his second and final stop after cycling up to fourth place and finished 11th. He will make his first race start in the Hy-Vee Honda at St. Pete and is looking forward to getting back on track and representing the employee-owned supermarket chain.

“I think this has been the longest off-season I’ve ever had. The longest off-season prior has been two months so its double basically so I’m super excited for the first race weekend coming up. We’ve only had one test in Thermal, California which went pretty well. We were second fastest both days so the car was competitive which is what we want.
“St. Pete is a great event. I’m looking forward to just getting the season started and seeing where we are at, competition wise. It’s been a long winter and I’m quite confident that we found some progress. I think the way the team is moving forward, I think the journey that we’re on, we’ve got to stick to it and make sure that we keep improving the way we are. I think it’s taking baby steps. We have a better package already. Where we ended 2022, across the three cars, was already way better than we started. We were competitive.
“I’ve rewatched all the races, written down notes on X, Y and Z, trying to figure out what I can do personally to improve. I think that’s what my second season in INDYCAR will be all about, getting rid of all the silly rookie mistakes and get the basics right. Again, if you do qualify first, you’ve got everything to lose. If you qualify last, you’ve got everything to gain. We need to be in the front without losing anything. But I’m not expecting to win every race. I’m expecting to have three cars to fight for the win. That’s a journey the team is on. I’ll do everything in my power to help with that. But going into my second season now, I’ve been to every track. I came into my rookie season, I’d only driven at two of them out of the 17. Looking at how the second half of 2022 ended, I’m not at all in doubt that I’ve got what it takes, I’ve just got to do it. I’ve just got to deliver that.
“I have my experiences in the 45 car. That was my first car I drove in INDYCAR in 2021. So now to come back with Hy-Vee and represent them, I think it’s great. They’re great people and they are sending a great message to race nd general sports fans. I think we need more sponsors and promoters doing what they’re doing.
“The INDYCAR is just a beast to drive. I think the biggest difference (in driving an F2 car compared to an Indy car) is not necessarily the weight but the endurance. It’s a two-and-a-half-hour-long race where you’re just doing qualifying laps the whole race, with refueling. You would run the tank empty, then you’d come in, put new tires on and refuel the car. You go out there, it’s certainly not the same beast you drove two laps earlier. That’s what makes it tougher. But it’s super fun.”