Rahal, Harvey and Lundgaard Head to the GMR Grand Prix to Kick off the Month of May

Source: Team PR

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Pre-Race Notes
GMR Grand Prix – Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course
Round 5 of 17 in the 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES

DATE:     Friday – Saturday, May 12-13, 2023
PRACTICE BROADCAST:     Live on Peacock Premium on Friday from 9:30 – 10:45 a.m. and 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. and Saturday from 11:15 – 11:45 a.m.  Also live on the INDYCAR Radio Network (IRN) and www.indycar.com(timing & scoring + live analysis). All times Eastern.
QUALIFYING BROADCAST:     Live on Peacock Premium, the IRN and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis) from 4:00 – 5:15 p.m. ET on Friday.
RACE BROADCAST:     Live on NBC on Saturday, May 13 from 3:30 – 6 p.m. ET. And also on Peacock Premium, IRN and Sirius XM 160.
TRACK LAYOUT:     2.439-mile, 14-turn road course
RACE LENGTH:     85 laps / 207.35 miles
2022 WINNER(S):     Colton Herta (May 14) / Alexander Rossi (July 30)
2022 POLESITTER(S):     Will Power (125.854 mph; May 13) / Felix Rosenqvist (125.030 mph; July 29)
RLL TOP START / FINISH AT IMS (ROAD):     4th by Rahal in 2020, Lundgaard 2021 / 2nd by Rahal in 2015 and 2020, Lundgaard 2022; 13 events
RAHAL’S BEST START / FINISH AT IMS (ROAD):     4th in 2020 / 2nd in 2015 and 2020; 13 events
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 AT IMS (ROAD):     2nd in July 2020 / 3rd in 2019; 8 events
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 AT IMS (ROAD):     4th in Aug. 2021 / 2nd in 2022 (July); 3 events
LUNDGAARD’S BEST SERIES START / FINISH:     3rd at Nashville & Portland 2022 / 2nd at the July Indy GP 2022
The GMR Grand Prix will mark the team’s 14th NTT INDYCAR SERIES race on the 2.439-mile road course. The team’s highest finish is second by Graham Rahal in 2015 and 2020 and by Lundgaard in 2022 (July). The team’s highest start of fourth came in July 2020 by Rahal and July 2022 by Lundgaard. In addition to Rahal (2014-2022), other drivers that have competed for the team here include Takuma Sato (2018-2021), Spencer Pigot (2016, 2020), Oriol Servia (2014), Jack Harvey (2022 May & July) and Christian Lundgaard (2021, 2022 May & July).  RLL has entered the No. 15 Fifth Third Bank Honda for Graham Rahal, the No. 30 Kustom Entertainment Honda for Jack Harvey and the No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda for Christian Lundgaard.
After a second-place finish on the road course at IMS in 2015 and 2020, Graham finished fifth and seventh on the IMS road course in 2021 in May and August. Last year in May, he started 12th and ran as high as sixth but the gamble for rain tires during ever-changing weather conditions challenged the field, including Rahal and Rossi initially, and others later. Slick track conditions and near zero visibility led to him running into the back of Kirkwood, which drew a penalty and a trip to the back of the field in 19th. He ultimately took the checkered flag in 16th place when the race went to the timed length after 75 of the planned 85 laps. In July, he started 17th and gained three spots at the start for P14 and by Lap 2 he was 11th.  He held the position through the FCC for Kellett. He was 11th when he made his first of three stops, ninth when he made his second and seventh when he made his final stop, which he held until the checkered flag. He utilized the same black/red/red tire strategy the majority of the field ran. He would like to kick the month of May off right with a good finish in the GMR Grand Prix.
           “I’m looking forward to GMR Grand Prix. It’s a place and it’s a track that we’ve always done pretty well at. I’ve finished as the bridesmaid a couple of times there but obviously would like to find our way to the top step. I’ve had some good shots before and got a little unlucky but seemingly we’ve been able to put ourselves in contention a lot and hopefully we can do that again. Christian did a great job at Barber, and I think that we as a team simply need to close the gap a little bit further on my car. We’ve got to get the car more to my liking. I’ve certainly struggled a little bit with the feel this year and getting some of the things out of it that I want. But having said that you’re only a couple of tenths off. It’s just so competitive and so close that you just can’t miss. It’s a place that we have high hopes for, and high expectations and we need to kick this month off right.” 

The 2023 GMR Grand Prix will mark the ninth INDYCAR Series race on the road course and 13th overall including four Indy Lights races from 2014-2015. His highest series start is second place, and he has accomplished the feat three times, including here (2020 – IMS road course, Road America Race 2; 2021 – St. Pete). The IMS road course is also the site of his highest series finish of third place in 2019. He has three top-three series starts on the IMS road course, which is a personal best of any track on the schedule. In Indy Lights, he competed in four races on the IMS road course and has two poles and two wins, three top-three starts, and three top-two finishes. Last year in the first of two IMS road course races, he ran as high as third place in one of the craziest races in recent INDYCAR history but a penalty for making contact with Ericsson after leaving his pit box relegated him to the back of the field. He had been running seventh prior to his stop but some ahead were expected to pit soon for rain tires so a podium was still in his sights. Once he went to the back of the field in 20th place, he climbed up to 13th before the race ended after 75 of the 85 laps due to a time limit. In July, he was 0.0653 from progressing to Round 2 in qualifying and was seventh in his group to earn a 13th place start. In the race, he gained three spots to run 10th on the start and cycled up to seventh before his first pit stop on Lap 13 and cycled into 9th by his second stop on Lap 35/85 before a caution for Pagenaud, who appeared to run out of fuel. On the next stint he ran in 14th place and chose the more durable primary tires for his final stint from Laps 60-85 when the majority of the field opted for the faster, but less durable alternates. He ultimately finished 20th. He is hoping to get the Month of May at IMS off to a good start.
            “Naturally I am looking forward to the GP. It’s a track that historically I’ve gone quite well at. I equaled my best start and had the best finish that I’ve had in INDYCAR there. Last year the race didn’t quite pan out great after it rained. We showed a lot of pace, qualifying was good. I’m just excited to be getting the whole of the month started. Hopefully we have a smooth and good weekend that we can just continue to build momentum off of. I think we learned some bits in Barber that we can hopefully carry with us for the whole of the season. I’m very excited to come back to the GP. I always feel it, I always believe it: someone is going to win the race. Why not us? I’m going there with maximum positivity; maximum optimism and I’m just going to try to put ourselves in the best position to have ourselves a fantastic weekend.”
While an FIA Formula 2 driver, Christian Lundgaard, then 20, made his INDYCAR debut with the team at the August 14, 2021, Grand Prix at IMS. The Danish driver tested an Indy car for the first time with the team at Barber Motorsports Park on July 26 and had plenty of new elements to adjust to during a compressed, two-day event schedule but surprised many when he qualified fourth for the race. He finished 12th in the race while battling food poisoning. In 2022, he finished ninth in the May Grand Prix last year and earned his first podium of second place in the July event. In that event, he earned his best start of the season at that point of sixth. In the race, he moved into fourth on the opening lap ahead of Power and O’Ward, who had an issue. He was passed by Herta before Kellett brought out a caution and passed Newgarden on the restart to regain fourth. He passed Rosenqvist for third on Lap 9 before his first stop on Lap 14. He held third through the majority of the race and claimed second place on Lap 42/85 when previous leader Herta slowed on course. In the late stages of the race, he pressured eventual winner Rossi but took the checkered flag 3.5 seconds behind him for his first series podium and a career-best finish of second place. He is bringing a lot of confidence into the event this weekend for his fourth grand prix here.
            “I love the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. I’ve been fast there and made my debut at the track and I’ve had it (the race) both in the rain and in the dry now. We got our first podium there as a team last year. I finished second in July, and I hope to win it this year, that’s the only step and the only target I have for this weekend. But I’m super excited to be back. It’s the first of two this year, and the one in the month of May. You want to start the month of May off well, but you don’t want to take your win too early either. Obviously coming off of Barber with a good performance, finishing sixth, it was a consistent weekend, we were around that sixth position the whole weekend from Practice 1 until the race. I got into the Firestone Six and we’ll see if we can get in there again this week. We’ve been in there almost all of the races I’ve actually raced in at the Indy GP so that will definitely be a target for us again. But going off our performance last year, I’m pretty sure we’ll have a strong performance there. Personally, I feel confident. As a team I think we feel very confident as well. I think it’s the most confident race that we will go into this season so I’m sure we’ll do well and get the Hy-Vee car up front. The momentum that we gained at the end of the season in 2022 helped our season in general. Momentum can turn your season up or down either way. Luckily, we’re on the up. We didn’t get a performance like this (sixth at Barber) until the Indy GP last year which was at the end of July and we’ve just gotten into May so it’s a lot earlier, which is looking good for the championship.”
Christian Lundgaard is ranked 12th in NTT INDYCAR SERIES point standings with 77, Graham Rahal is 16th with 65 and Jack Harvey is 23rd with 43.