Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Gallagher Grand Prix – Indianapolis Motor Speedway
NTT INDYCAR SERIES
RACE NOTES/QUOTES – August 12, 2023
RAHAL LED THE MOST LAPS BUT FINISHED SECOND IN THE GALLAGHER GP TO DIXON IN THE CLOSEST INDYCAR SERIES FINISH AT THE IMS ROAD COURSE; LUNDGAARD AND HARVEY FINISHED FOURTH AND 14TH
GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Code 3 Associates Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “I’m not going to lie, I left it all out there today. We played it perfect for the Code 3 Associates guys, for Nan Stuart and everybody. We gave it everything we’ve got. Dixon got lucky, pitted under that first lap yellow. That yellow lasted for like eight laps, which it didn’t need to and that’s what made their race because they could coast around under yellow and do it on a two stop. This one hurts. I thought we were going to get a chance at it. We gave it a lunge there just on overtake (button) to overtake and I wasn’t gaining on him, I was just equal so I couldn’t really lunge. It was a great day for everyone on the Code 3 Associates team, the 15 and also the 45 guys. Off to St. Louis we go.”
- FAST FACTS: Started the race from his fourth career pole today, first on a road course and first since winning pole for Race 1 of the Detroit doubleheader in 2017. He led the most laps of the race today at 36/85 but finished second to Scott Dixon, who qualified 15th and spun due to an opening lap incident but utilized the early stop for repairs on Lap 5 and then choose a two-stop strategy after that which dictated fuel saving. In the closing stages, Rahal, in second, had a quicker pace than Dixon but was held up in traffic while trying to close the gap. He was also on used alternate tires for his final stint to Dixon’s new ones after flat-spotting a set in qualifying en route to pole. After getting around the lapped traffic between himself and Dixon with approx. 12 laps to go, he closed the gap from -3.5 seconds to -0.5 with a few laps to go but ultimately settled for second place with a margin of -0.4779 to the winner. It was the closest INDYCAR SERIES finish ever at the IMS road course and Rahal’s third second-place finish here (2015, 2020, 2023). It was Rahal’s 15th Indy car race 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… Has SIX INDYCAR SERIES wins (2008 – St. Pete street course; 2015 – Fontana Super Speedway, Mid-Ohio road course; 2016 – Texas Super Speedway; 2017 Detroit Race 1, Detroit Race 2) and FOUR poles (2009 – St. Pete street course, Kansas oval; 2017 – Detroit Race 1 street; 2023 – IMS road) and his highest series season-ending standing is fourth place in 2015… He moved up two places in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES point standings to 14th with 241.
JACK HARVEY, No. 30 Kustom Entertainment Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “I had a really good start and gained four positions on the first lap so that was good. Just missed a little bit of pace really and probably needed a yellow just to spice it up a bit but a yellow probably would’ve been bad for Graham though. Overall, is was a great weekend for the team. And sometimes just gaining a little momentum is all you can hope to do and it certainly feels like as a team we have done that.”
- FAST FACTS: Qualified eighth but had to serve a six-grid penalty for an unapproved engine change and started 14th. He gained four spots on the start to run 10th and ultimately finished 14th. This was Harvey’s 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… He moved up one position in the standings to 22nd with 146 points.
CHRISTIAN LUNDGAARD, No. 45 Hy-Vee Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “We need to look at our pit strategy but I think pitting on the lap that we did hurt us. We came out together in the same sequence with the two McLaren cars and we’re just not going to make any ground up doing that. It’s very disappointing to not have the No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda on the podium today. I think what Rossi’s team did was smart: pit the lap before where he tried to undercut both of us. Unfortunately for him it didn’t work out but I think we were just strong at that point, we had a lot of pace.”
- FAST FACTS: He started second and was passed by DeFrancesco and O’Ward on the opening lap to run fourth. He repassed DeFrancesco a few laps later and ran mostly in the top four tha majority of the race to take the checkered flag in that position. It was his fifth race on the road course at IMS and first time back after winning his first series pole here on May 12. 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 maintained his eighth place rank in the standings with 330 points.
RLL AT THE IMS ROAD COURSE…. The team earned their fourth second-place finish on the road course in today’s race. Rahal has finished second here in 2015, 2020 and 2023 (today) and Lundgaard in 2022 (July). Lundgaard and Rahal also brought RLL their highest start of pole (Lundgaard, May 2023; Rahal August 2023).
NEXT UP: The series will take next weekend off before reconvening for Round 15 at World Wide Technology Raceway on Sunday, August 27.