Vips, Rahal and Lundgaard Set the 6th, 7th and 25th Fastest Times in Practice 1 of the Firestone GP of Monterey

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey
PRACTICE NOTES/QUOTES – September 8, 2023


1)      Colton Herta                 1:07.5382 / 119.292 mph       
6)      Juri Vips                        1:07.9175 / 119.199 mph
7)      Graham Rahal               1:07.9515 / 118.567 mph       
25)    Christian Lundgaard    1:08.5958 / 117.453 mph       

GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 iPacket Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “We were P7 (seventh) in Practice 1 and Juri was sixth so it was a solid day. On the first set of tires, I just had a massive amount of understeer which cost me pretty good. But we didn’t really get to run reds (alternate tires), which was probably the story for most guys since there were so many red flags. They just kept coming out, but I feel like the pace of the iPacket car is good. It’s going to be super-competitive which is why there are so many reds around here. With the pace that we are going, the level that is is, you are absolutely driving beyond 10-10ths on every single lap. Unfortunately, it’s causing a lot of guys, including myself yesterday, to make mistakes. We’ve just got to put our heads down and see what we get here over the next day or two. I think we’ll be solid though.”

  • FAST FACTS: The 2023 race will mark the fourth for Graham Rahal at the track. After earning pole for the previous two road course races, he is hoping to have the same form at WRLS and turn it into a win. In 2022, he started on primary tires from 19th place and steadily climbed his way up the field. A pivotal decision came when the team opted to take on used alternate tires on his second stop compared to Lundgaard, who took on primary tires and ultimately finished fifth. The two had been running together with Rahal ahead in seventh place initially but the two swapped positions on Lap 57/95 and he fell four positions before the team elected to stop again for primary tires on Lap 61. He ultimately finished 18th, one lap down to the leaders. In 2021, Rahal started 12th and ran as high as fourth before his first stop on Lap 18/95. The handling of his race car was better halfway through his second stint and he gained a few spots before he made his second stop from third place on Lap 40.  He pit from second place for his third stop on Lap 67 and was able to leapfrog O’Ward by staying out longer. He held third place for 11 laps before Grosjean, whose tires had six less laps on them, passed him on Lap 84/95 and he held on to finish fourth.  In 2019, he started eighth and lost two positions on the start to Hunter-Reay and Ferrucci. He dropped to 11th on Lap 5 when Rosenqvist passed him and cycled as high as fifth place before his second pit stop on Lap 39. He ran 10th for the majority of his next stint before his third and final stop and came out 11th. He later lost a position to Hunter-Reay on Lap 68 of 90 and ultimately took the checkered flag 12th. He has earned two poles in the past two road races and two poles of the last three races overall.  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 FIVE poles (2009 – St. Pete street course, Kansas oval; 2017 – Detroit Race 1 street; 2023 – IMS road/August, Portland road)… He is 14th in series point standings with a total of 271.

JURI VIPS, 30 Mi-Jack Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “It was a good day and pretty good start to the weekend. We were in the same place as we were in testing yesterday. We were pretty solid right out of the box and were P3 when I did my fast time. We were competitive and I think the Mi-Jack car had more in it. I think the track changed a little bit compared to yesterday and I wasn’t quite fully committed so there is still time there. I was going to fully commit on the reds, which I didn’t get to run. We had a bit of a precautionary think from Honda’s side. They saw something on the data they didn’t like and wanted to take precautionary measures so we stopped on track.”

  • FAST FACTS: Vips, 23, is a three-time Formula 2 race winner and a part of the Red Bull Junior Team between 2018-2022, where he also served as a Formula One test and reserve driver from 2020-22. He drove an Indy car for the first time on October 12, 2022, at Sebring International Raceway in a test for the team and again at Barber Motorsports Park on March 13, 2023, and made his INDYCAR SERIES debut at Portland where he started and finished 18th. He has also performed static simulator testing for the team during the season. His most recent win came at the F2 sprint race in Monza on September 10, 2022, and his most recent race overall took place at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on November 20, 2022.

CHRISTIAN LUNDGAARD, No. 45 Hy-Vee Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “Practice 1 was a bit of a disaster out there. On my first run I had a rock stuck between my suit and the seat so every left-hand corner wasn’t so pleasant on my right shoulder, so we stopped on our new tire set just to get that out. Then we went out and my first push lap I didn’t stop in the corkscrew so we went straight (off track) there. We never had a proper lap throughout the whole session. It was just a messy session. Tomorrow will be much better hopefully and we can get the Hy-Vee Honda up there on the timesheets.”

  • FAST FACTS: Will make his second start here. Last year, he clinched the Rookie of the Year title over David Malukas with a fifth-place finish after starting 16th. In the race, he steadily moved up the field after starting on primary tires while the majority of the field started on alternates, which turned out to be the best strategy. After setting the fastest time in Practice 1 in Portland and second fastest in Practice 2, the team was unable to maximize the potential there last weekend but plan to do that in the season finale… He is ranked 8th in the point standings with 362.

RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT LAGUNA SECA …  The 2023 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey will mark the 16th Indy car event for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and third here since 12 consecutive races at the track from 1992-2003. The team has also competed in ALMS and IMSA races here from 2009-2021, and 2023 as BMW M Team RLL and has earned three wins, three poles and a total of 11 podium finishes to date — including pole and a second place finish in 2019.  The team finished third at the May 1, 2022 race. The INDYCAR team has earned three wins, three poles and a total of six podiums (1st – Herta 1998-1999; Papis 2001; 2nd – Herta 1996; 3rd: B. Rahal 1992, Papis 1999) including three straight pole positions (Herta 1997-1999).

NEXT UP:  Practice 2 will take place tomorrow from 10:00-11:00 a.m. PT and qualifying will take place from 2:00-3:30 p.m. PT.  Peacock will broadcast all sessions live. Timing and Scoring information and live streaming video is also available for all sessions from and includes live commentary. The Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey will be televised live on NBC beginning at 3 PM ET Sunday, September 10.