Lundgaard Fought Back to Finish Sixth in the Firestone GP of Monterey; Vips and Rahal Were Collected in Opening Lap Contact and Finished 24th and 27th

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey
RACE NOTES/QUOTES – September 10, 2023
GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 iPacket Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “It was a super frustrating day here for the iPacket guys, to not even get the chance to compete. I’m disappointed and frustrated. I don’t know what Marcus Armstrong was doing being in that position. You’ve got to be smarter than that. I thought we gave him enough room but clearly we didn’t. Unfortunately, we just got taken out. It felt like we were in a box there. I think Colton jumped the start quite a bit and got a few rows up and then everything got tight and condensed. Grosjean and all of us were a little bit slow into Turn 1. I felt I left a lot of room on the inside for whatever kind of transpired. Clearly, I did get in the wrong place, wrong time there. Unfortunately, I didn’t see Armstrong at all but unfortunately, we hit Juri, we hit Josef, and God knows who else. I haven’t even seen the whole thing. I feel like we hit everybody. It feels like we can’t have the good fortune. I try to keep it clean, try to give plenty of room. These young guys nowadays, they race much more without the part up here and we’ve got to be prepared for that. I feel bad for iPacket. They put a lot into this team and to not even get a lap with everybody here, it’s disappointing. We’ll put our focus towards the off season and get this thing turned around and get the team back up front.” 

  • FAST FACTS: Was collected in an opening lap incident and retired in 27th place after starting 10th. In qualifying, he was seventh fastest in his group and failed to progress to Round 2 by less than 1/10th of a second. Four cars ahead of Rahal served a grid penalty so he started 10th… The 2023 race marked the fourth for Graham Rahal at the track. He earned pole for the previous two road course races and was hoping to have the same form at WRLS and turn it into a win. 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)… Dropped from 14th in series point standings to 15th with a total of 276 for the year.

JURI VIPS, 30 Mi-Jack Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “It was looking like a really good start. I thought I avoided most of the melee and was going to gain probably six or seven positions but just in the middle of Turn 2 I got taken out on the side and that was us done basically. We carried some damage until the end. The team did a good job getting me out there again. We ended up gaining a spot which was very important. I’m very proud of our effort.”

  • FAST FACTS: He qualified seventh but served a six-grid penalty for an unapproved engine change that took place Friday afternoon and started 13th, which included grid penalties for Ferrucci, Canapino and Dixon. At the start, he was collected in a multi-car accident when Rahal was hit and turned into Vips. The team worked fast to repair the car in order to gain valuable points for the Leaders Circle program, which paid off when he was able to return to the track and finish 24th, 24 laps down to the leaders, and requalify for the program. He 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: “At the start I locked the rears, but I was easily going to make the corner but McLaughlin sort of squeezed me on to the curb and as soon as I got on there, the front grip had a huge tank slapper and that ended up hitting his side. I don’t know what happened after that. I had a straight puncture, suspension damage, and the whole side of the car was bruised. Throughout the whole race it was just a lot of wheel banging and dumb driving from everybody. We stayed in the game. We were seventh with one lap to go and got Rossi to finish sixth and kept eighth place in the championship so I’m happy with that since it was the target going into the weekend. I had a broken mirror so I couldn’t see anything on my left side so for everybody that dived up the inside, I had no clue that they were there until they were there so I couldn’t do much to defend my position. The negative of the weekend was not getting anything out of the pace we had but I don’t really think I ever expected to finish where we did with that first lap, but I know there was hope. We ended up on the better side of the unluck at the end of the race.” 

  • FAST FACTS: Started third and came into contact with second-place starter McLaughlin in Turn 1 on the opening lap, which set off a multi-car crash that involved teammates Rahal and Vips. He pit for repairs and new tires and the team began to battled back after he was sent to the back of the field for emergency service in a closed pit. The race saw eight cautions for a total of 35 of the 95 laps and he ultimately finished sixth. In Round 2 of qualifying, he set a time of 1:06.4610, which is a new track record, well over Helio Castroneves’s qualifying lap record of 1:07.722, set in 2000. In the Firestone Fast Six, he was on a lap time that would have been four-tenths-of-a-second up and good enough for his third pole of the season but made a mistake in the Corkscrew. 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 ended the season ranked 8th in the point standings with 390.