RLL Returns to the Gallagher Grand Prix at IMS – Site of Lundgaard’s First Series Pole & a Strong Team Qualifying Performance in May

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Pre-Race Notes
Gallagher Grand Prix – Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course
Round 14 of 17 in the 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES

DATE:     Friday – Saturday, August 12-13, 2023
PRACTICE BROADCAST:     Live on Peacock Premium on Friday from 9:00 – 10:30 a.m. and 4:00 – 4:30 p.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 indycar.com timing & scoring + live analysis) from 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. ET Friday.
RACE BROADCAST:     Live on USA on Saturday, August 12 from 2 – 5 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
2023 MAY WINNER:     Alex Palou (May 13)
2023 MAY POLESITTER:     Christian Lundgaard (1:09.4639 / 126.402 mph; May 12)
RLL TOP START / FINISH AT IMS (ROAD):     1st by Lundgaard in May ‘23 / 2nd by Rahal in 2015 & 2020, Lundgaard in July ‘22; 14 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 ; 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):     1st / 4th  – both in May 2023; 4 events
LUNDGAARD’S BEST SERIES START / FINISH:     1st at IMS road course, May 2023 / 1st at Toronto 2023
The Gallagher Grand Prix will mark the team’s 15th 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 Lundgaard in 2022 (July) and he also brought RLL their highest start of pole in May 2023. In addition to Rahal (2014-2021), other drivers that have competed for the team here include Takuma Sato (2018-2021), Spencer Pigot (2016, 2020), Oriol Servia (2014), Jack Harvey (2022 x2, 2023 x1) and Christian Lundgaard (2021, 2022 x2, 2023).  RLL has entered the No. 15 Code 3 Associates Honda for Graham Rahal, the No. 30 Kustom Entertainment Honda for Jack Harvey and the No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda for Christian Lundgaard.
Rahal will make his 15th INDYCAR start on the road course at IMS. 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. Earlier this year, Rahal battled from the back after opening lap contact from Kyle Kirkwood to finish 10th. Sixth place starter Kirkwood made contact with Rahal, who had pulled ahead in the first few turns of the opening lap. It sent him into other cars, and he ultimately had to pit to replace a right rear, punctured tire. A caution came out after that for two other cars, and he pit to top off before the race returned to green. He climbed into the lead for seven laps at one point and ultimately finished 10th to salvage his race. He is hoping for another strong event on the IMS road course for the team.  
              “I’m really pumped to get back to IMS for the Gallagher Grand Prix. I thought in May that we were really strong as a team, and we need to make sure we can kick off on the right foot again and that we’re doing the right things to make sure we’re competitive. Obviously, it’s not a given. Yes, we were good in May, but we need to make sure that it carries over into August which, in year’s past we kind of struggled to get that to transition to the hotter month. But hopefully we can do it and have a really good weekend.
              “It’s always great to represent Code 3 Associates and all they do. They’ve been an amazing partner but more importantly they are a great group of people and a great charity, which we love to support. They have a really strong mission behind them to help all of our wildlife friends in the midst of natural disasters. Hopefully we can continue to raise awareness for them.
              “It’s a crazy schedule over the two days with everything happening in one day on Friday except for the race but I think we’re up to the task. As a team, we’ve put on a good performance before. I don’t see that changing so hopefully we can do well. The conditions are similar (to May), but the heat will be the biggest change and we don’t know whether it will be dry, wet or just how hot it will be. It’s important for us to have a really good event. We’re closing in on the end of the season and we’d like to finish on a good note. We haven’t had a podium on the 15 car so we’d like to make that happen. Let’s see how it all plays out.”

The 2023 Gallagher Grand Prix will mark the 10th INDYCAR Series race on the road course and 14th 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. Earlier this year in the May race here, he started fourth and took over third on the first lap. He sustained some wing damage early on and later spun and continued on Lap 30 but ultimately finished 20th.  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 looking forward to getting back on track at IMS, where he has had some career-best performances.
              “I’m excited to get back to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. It’s a track that I’ve always ran well and qualified well at, and on the whole, raced well at. We showed a lot of potential and promise at the race earlier this year in May so if we can iron out just a couple of these bits, trying to go out and get a top-10 and battle for the podium is what our expectation and target should be for the weekend. I’m excited to get back to a track that I’ve gone well at and just keep trucking away.”
Christian returns to the road course at IMS as the most recent INDYCAR pole winner here after having earned his first career pole on May 12 at the track. In May of this year, he led the majority of the first lap until third-place starter Palou, on faster alternate tires to his harder, primary ones, passed for the lead into Turn 14. He regained the lead on Laps 18-19 after Palou pit. Tire strategy played an integral part and on one stint he was on used alternate tires when the race favored used or sticker primaries.  On Lap 57 he dropped from second to third when O’Ward passed him. He held the position through a stop and was passed by Ericsson on Lap 76/85 for fourth. He held off Rosenqvist until the checkered flag to maintain fourth place. 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. While an FIA Formula 2 driver in 2021, Lundgaard, then 20, made his INDYCAR debut with the team at the August 14, 2021 race. After testing an Indy car for the first time with the team at Barber Motorsports Park on July 26, he had plenty of new elements to adjust to during a compressed, two-day event schedule but surprised many when he qualified fourth. He finished 12th in the race while battling food poisoning. He has been looking forward to returning to the track since his pole and fourth place finish in May.
              “We have learned a lot of things since we raced on the road course at IMS in May and it’s a continuous learning curve of course. I do think we’ll be competitive. It’s one of our strongest tracks and I think we’ve shown that as a team having had two cars in the Fast Six and having Graham qualifying eighth as well. I think we were the only team that had three cars in the top eight. We were competitive there and this gives us a chance to improve and make up for our mistakes in May. We weren’t on top of our strategy decisions and a lot has been learned since then. For sure the condensed weekend makes it more challenging but luckily this is one of the weekends and tracks where we know we will be competitive so we can be bold and experiment with other things and not necessarily worry about it for qualifying if it doesn’t work out in practice. It’s an interesting weekend and in the back of everyone’s minds that there will be NASCAR rubber on the track as well. Luckily, I don’t think it’s something that hurts us as a team. It will be hotter but, at the same time, looking at the statistics, the second Indy GP is the strongest one for the team the past two years and we’re going in off a pole from May so I don’t see a reason why we shouldn’t be competitive this weekend.”
Heading into Round 14 of 17 at the Gallagher Grand Prix, Lundgaard is in eighth place in the series standings with a total of 297 points. Rahal is 16th with 197 and Harvey is 23rd with 130.