GRAHAM RAHAL, No 15 Fifth Third Bank Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “It was a good end to our first day here at the GMR Grand Prix with qualifying obviously. We’ll start fourth so it’s a really good run for us in the Fifth Third Bank team. The guys did a great job. We had a really good lap in Round 2 to get us into Round 3 and then in Q3 we had one going that was just a hair better but it still ended up being our best lap. All in all I’m happy with P4; we can go race from there, we can do a good job from there. Honda has done an amazing job; you could see it. The other guys (Takuma and Spencer) didn’t have the luck we did today in getting through but they will. They will have a good day tomorrow. We’re pretty pleased with today.”
FAST FACTS: The 2020 GMR GP will be Rahal’s seventh Indy car race on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His highest finish here is second place (2015) and his highest start is seventh (2019) although he qualified third in 2016 but his car was disqualified for being underweight. In six events, he has five top-10 finishes of second (2015), fourth (2016), sixth (2017), seventh (2019) and ninth (2018). 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 THREE poles (2009 – St. Pete street course, Kansas oval; 2017 – Detroit Race 1 street) and his highest series season-ending standing is fourth place in 2015.
TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 Panasonic / One Cure Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “It was a tough one. Starting off I thought the car was pretty good. I thought we were hovering on position three or four on the black tires and then I put the red on and just didn’t get any bite with it; the car started to slide. And the grip wasn’t there as expected so unfortunately, I wasn’t able to improve the time a lot and ended up 17th. But Graham did a great job and had a great qualifying. We’ll go have a look and compare data to see what we can do and hopefully all three of us will be strong for the race.”
FAST FACTS: The 2020 GMR will be Takuma’s seventh race here. His best start is 11th in 2018 and 2019 with RLL and his best finish is ninth in 2017 with Andretti Autosport… Has FIVE INDYCAR SERIES wins (2013 – Long Beach street course, 2017 – Indy 500 oval, 2018 – Portland road, 2019 – Barber road, St. Louis short oval) and NINE poles (2011 Iowa oval, Edmonton street; 2013 Houston Race 1 street; 2014 St. Pete street, Detroit Race 2 street; 2017 Detroit Race 2, Pocono oval; 2019 Barber, Texas oval).
SPENCER PIGOT, No. 45 Mi-Jack / Shield Cleansers Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “Overall the day wasn’t too bad. I think we made some good adjustments and changes throughout the first practice. Qualifying was just really tricky; it was super-hot. It was easy to miss a little bit of time. I think we have a pretty-solid car. It was pretty good on blacks (primary Firestone tires) and on reds, we’re just missed it a little bit. Hopefully tomorrow we can make a few ore changes in warmup and have a good debut race for everyone at RLL with Citrone/Buhl Autosport.”
FAST FACTS: The 2020 GMR Grand Prix will be Spencer’s fifth race on the IMS road course. His best start is 9th in 2018 and his best finish is fifth in 2019 – both with Ed Carpenter Racing… His highest series start is third at IMS (oval; 2019) and his highest series finish is second at Iowa Speedway (2018).
RLL AT THE IMS ROAD COURSE…. The GMR Grand Prix will mark the seventh NTT INDYCAR SERIES race on the 2.439-mile road course. The team’s best finish here is second in 2015 by Rahal and best start is fourth in 2020, also by Rahal.
NEXT UP: The pre-race warm-up will take place tomorrow from 9-9:30 a.m. ET and NBC will begin their broadcast of the GMR Grand Prix beginning at 12 PM ET.
FIFTH THIRD BANK EXTENDS PARTNERSHIP WITH RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING THROUGH 2022
Will be Primary Sponsor of the No. 15 entry at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, Road America and at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (July 2, 2020) – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) announced today that Fifth Third Bank has extended its relationship with the team through the 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. The bank will be the primary sponsor of the No. 15 entry for Graham Rahal at the GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Race 2 of the REV Group Grand Prix at Road America doubleheader and the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Fifth Third Bank will also have an enhanced associate sponsor presence in other key INDYCAR SERIES race markets throughout each season including at the Indianapolis 500 and in Monterey, Calif. and St. Petersburg, Fla. Fifth Third Bank first joined the team in 2016 as an associate sponsor and the partnership has grown as the two organizations have continued to build upon and pursue new collaborative business-to-business opportunities.
“Motorsports is such a vital part of the Indianapolis culture and as a corporate citizen Fifth Third Bank believes greatly in supporting the sport at the very heart of our state,” said Kevin Hipskind, Fifth Third Bank Regional President. “Our partnership with the elite Rahal Letterman Lanigan team continues to create even more opportunity for long-term community impact and meaningful business relationships for the Bank. We look forward to three more heart-racing years of collaboration and an exciting NTT INDYCAR SERIES ahead.”
In addition to business-to-business activities, RLL has participated in Fifth Third Bank’s annual Fifth Third Day (5/3 on the calendar) by helping to kick off their Feeding Our Communities campaign that takes place in the communities they serve with the goal of providing more than 1 million meals to those in need in May. The initiative has included Indianapolis-area groups such as Second Helpings, Pride Academy, Flanner House, St. Vincent House, Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital and Million Meals Movement. Fifth Third Bank is also a supporter of other racing-related charitable initiatives such as REV Presented by Fifth Third Bank which benefits IU Health patients and an annual event that benefits Children’s TherAplay, a physical and occupational therapy for children with special needs.
“When this relationship began, I already had the utmost respect for Fifth Third Bank as a company,” said Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing with David Letterman and Mike Lanigan. “As each year progresses, we continue to be inspired not only by how they conduct their business but also how they support the communities in which they service. Fifth Third Bank is able to uniquely leverage the partnership with RLL to enhance their commercial banking position with clients across the INDYCAR paddock.”
“We’re thrilled Fifth Third Bank has extended its relationship with Rahal Letterman Lanigan, providing another example of the strong appeal and reach of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and its teams,” said Mark Miles, President and Chief Executive Officer of Penske Entertainment Corp. “Our sport needs great sponsors like Fifth Third Bank, which has tremendous reach and such impactful community ties and will continue to enjoy a great partnership with a top-notch organization like Rahal Letterman Lanigan.”
The 14-race 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season continues with the GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 4. For more details about the team or series, please visit www.rahal.com or www.indycar.com
Rahal Letterman Lanigan RacingPre-Race Notes GMR Grand Prix – Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course Round 2 of 14 in the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES
DATE: Friday – Saturday, July 3-4, 2020
PRACTICE BROADCAST: Live on NBC Sports Gold, on Friday from 11:30 – 1 p.m ET. Also live on the INDYCAR Radio Network (IRN) and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis).
QUALIFYING BROADCAST: Live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold from 4:30 – 5:45 p.m. ET on Friday, July 3. Also live on the IRN and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis).
RACE BROADCAST: Live Saturday, July 4 beginning at 12 p.m. ET on NBC, NBC Sports Gold and the IRN. Coverage will also air on Sirius 211 and XM 205.
TRACK LAYOUT: 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course RACE LENGTH: 80 laps / 195 miles (5 laps less than previous races) 2019 WINNER: Simon Pagenaud 2019 POLESITTER: Felix Rosenqvist (1:08.2785; 128.597 mph)
RLL TOP START / FINISH AT IMS (ROAD): 7th by Rahal in 2019 / 2nd by Rahal in 2015; six events
RAHAL’S BEST START / FINISH AT IMS (ROAD): 7th in 2019 (qualified 3rd in 2016 but DQ’d) / 2nd in 2015; six 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
SATO’S BEST START / FINISH AT IMS (ROAD): 11th in 2018-2019 (RLL) / 9th in 2017 with AA; six events SATO’S HIGHEST SERIES START / FINISH: 9 Poles – Iowa (oval) 2011, Edmonton (street) 2011, Houston Race 1 (street) 2013, St. Pete (street) 2014, Detroit Dual 2 (street) 2014, Detroit Dual 2 2017, Pocono (oval) 2017, Barber (road) 2019, Texas (oval) 2019 / 5 Wins – Long Beach (2013), Indianapolis 500 (2017), Portland (road) 2018, Barber 2019, St. Louis (oval) 2019
PIGOT’S BEST START / FINISH AT IMS (ROAD): 9th in 2018 / 5th in 2019 – both with Ed Carpenter Racing; four events PIGOT’S HIGHEST SERIES START / FINISH: 3rd at Indianapolis (oval) 2019 / 2nd at Iowa (oval) 2018
NEWS & NOTES:
RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING & THE GMR GRAND PRIX The GMR Grand Prix (GMRGP) will mark the team’s seventh NTT INDYCAR SERIES race on the 2.439-mile road course. The team’s highest finish is second by Graham Rahal in 2015 and he also brought their highest start of seventh in 2019. In addition to Rahal (2014-2019) and Sato (2018-2019), other drivers that have competed for the team here include Spencer Pigot (2016) and Oriol Servia (2014). For 2020, RLL has entered the No. 15 Fifth Third Bank Honda for Graham Rahal, the No. 30 Panasonic / One Cure Honda for Takuma Sato and the No. 45 Mi-Jack / Shield Cleansers Honda for Spencer Pigot, entered by RLL with Citrone/Buhl Autosport.
RAHAL AIMS TO ADD ANOTHER PODIUM FINISH AT IMS The 2020 GMRGP will be Graham Rahal’s seventh Indy car race on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His highest finish here is second place and his highest start is seventh in 2019 although he qualified third in 2016 but his car was disqualified for being underweight. Last year changing weather conditions provided an extra challenge as heavy sprinkles fell as the race started. Rahal passed Power on the start for sixth and held the position through a caution for Ericsson. On the restart, Harvey and Herta came into contact and Rahal passed for fifth on Lap 16. Pigot passed him on Lap 22. As drivers began to pit, he cycled into the lead by Lap 27 before he made his first stop on Lap 28. He returned to the track in 13th and had a brief “moment” when he had his right tires in the grass but gradually moved back up to seventh by Lap 40 and into fifth by Lap 43. He passed Pigot on Lap 46 for fourth and then the top three pit which put him in the lead on Lap 47 for three laps. He made his second stop on Lap 50 and was out on alternate tires. As the rain picked up, Kanaan became the first driver to opt for rain tires. His lap times were much slower than the field so most elected to stay on slicks when they had to pit for fuel. Castroneves forced the issue on tire choice when he spun on his out lap on rain tires but got stuck on course and brought out a caution. The rain picked up so when the pits opened on Lap 63 of 85, those other than the seven cars on rain tires, elected to pit for them including Rahal and teammate Sato. He returned to the track in seventh and held that position until the final lap when Power and Rosenqvist passed him. He is looking forward to racing on a road course for the first time in nine months. “I feel with the work on the simulator and everywhere else that we’ve developed, our team has done a great job and prepared us for this weekend. It’s exciting to get back, and I’m thrilled to be getting going for the next few months. I imagine it will be a lot hotter now than it would have been (racing here) in May. It will test the drivers with everything we’ve had going on, limited-to-no time on track in these cars with the Aeroscreen and everything else. It will be a challenge for us all and the Fifth Third Bank team hopes to rise to the occasion.”
SATO RETURNS TO IMS – SITE OF HIS BIGGEST RACING ACHIEVEMENT – FOR THE GMR GRAND PRIX The 2020 GMRGP will be the seventh race here on the road course for Sato, winner of the 2017 Indy 500. His best start is 11th in 2018 and his best finish is ninth in 2017 with Andretti Autosport. Last year Sato got boxed in on the start during heavy sprinkles on track and dropped from his 11th-place start to 16th. He passed Hunter-Reay and Castroneves before he took over P13 on Lap 10 when Ericsson brought out a caution. On the restart, he got one position when Herta was spun and he passed Ferrucci for 10th. He passed Power and Bourdais on Lap 20 for eighth place but was repassed by Bourdais on Lap 22. As the pit cycle started, he climbed as high as fourth before he pit on Lap 28. He returned to the track in 14th and climbed back into eighth by Lap 40. As some drivers who were on a different pit strategy made stops, he moved up to second by Lap 50 before his second stop for slick tires. Kanaan was the first driver to pit for rain tires on his stop on Lap 54. The team monitored his lap times as well as the weather and when Castroneves brought out the caution when he returned to the track on rain tires, all teams not on rain tires waited until the pits opened on Lap 63 to get them. Sato spun in the slick conditions once back on track and dropped back to 16th. He gained two spots from O’Ward and Hinchcliffe before the checkered flag. The short amount of time between his crash in qualifying at Texas in June and race time didn’t allow the team enough time to repair his race car so the GMRGP will be his first race of the season. He is looking forward to the opportunity to take the green flag and catch up on the points he missed out on. “It’s very important to maximize the potential of five races in three weeks but we need to do our best every weekend, no matter the circumstance. It will be hard for everyone at the team as its consecutive weekends but hopefully we will be in great shape for every race. I think the biggest challenge of the GMR Grand Prix will be how we deal with just a single practice session before qualifying. It’s a 90-minute session but we don’t have time for analyzing data between sessions and if you need to change a suspension geometry or make some big change then we lose a lot of time. It’s very limited on track time.”
PIGOT’S RETURN TO THE TEAM AND INDYCAR IN A NEW PARTNERSHIP As announced in February, Spencer Pigot, who made three starts for RLL in 2016, will be making his return to the team at the GMRGP in a car entered by RLL with Citrone/Buhl Autosport (CBA). Two of the three races with the team in 2016 were at IMS as they will be in 2020. In Pigot’s four Indy car races on the IMS road course, his best start is ninth in 2018 and best finish is fifth in 2019 – both with Ed Carpenter Racing. After months of planning and preparation with the team, he is excited to get back on track at IMS. “I’ve been going to the shop about three days a week, getting to know all the crew members better, get comfortable in the car, practicing pit stops, etc. I’ve been on the phone with my engineer on a regular basis as well going over some setup ideas and trying to plan out the weekend. We aren’t allowed inside the track until the morning of practice so we are trying to prepare as much as possible before we get to the speedway. The fact that the race was rescheduled will definitely help me a bit. Instead of the GMR Grand Prix being almost mid season, it’s the first road course race of the year so everyone will be trying to get comfortable again. Having said that, I think I’m the only driver that has no experience with the Aeroscreen so that will be a big difference. I’ve talked to a lot of drivers and they say it doesn’t take too long to get used to. Hopefully that will be the case for me on Friday.”
GRAHAM ON GAINS MADE ON THE SIMULATOR The GMR Grand Prix at IMS will be the first road course race of the season and the first with the Aeroscreen. A pre-season test took place with the full field at Circuit of the Americas in February but inclement weather limited testing therefore the team has relied on data obtained on the Honda simulator. “There will be a lot of racing in the next three weeks but we’re prepared. Physically I feel good, rested and ready. I think the team is ready as well, and we’ve always seen that Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing rises up in the toughest of times and I think that will continue. It’s very hard to apply anything we got from the COTA test since it was very limited due to conditions. We’re really relying on what we’ve learned in the sim and hoping it will translate nicely for us. The sim work was great. We found some huge improvements over our old setups, found a good lap time and really put ourselves in a better spot. Now the question remains, how will that translate to the track. We will find out shortly.”
TAKUMA ON THE FIRST ROAD COURSE RACE IN NINE MONTHS AND A THIRD SET OF DATA “It’s challenging for sure, not to have had on track testing as well as very limited access to the simulator too. Sure, we rely on data but that has always been the case and not much difference since we are just lacking the current cars data as there has been no actual running for a long time. The team is preparing everything they can and we hope all the analysis we’ve done leads to a great performance on the track. (On whether having input from a third driver this weekend is a benefit:) Definitely, especially due to limited track time. Spencer has been very competitive in the series so it will be a great addition for entire team to move forward.”
SPENCER ON HAVING TWO TEAMMATES DURING THE TWO-DAY EVENT “It will be great to work with Graham and Takuma this weekend. They are two of the top drivers in INDYCAR so being able to compare data and discuss car changes with them will be very helpful. With their only being one practice session, having three cars within one team will allow us to try more changes to make the best decisions before qualifying. The last time I was teammates with Graham I was very new to INDYCAR. I was still learning what I needed from the car so I’m not sure if we will prefer similar setups or not this time around. I think everyone at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Citrone/Buhl Autosport is expecting us to be competitive. We have a great group of people that have been working very hard over the off season and leading up to this race. It’s not going to be easy, there are so many good teams and drivers in INDYCAR but I’m confident we will be able to have a strong showing.”
GRAHAM ON THE INDYCAR / NASCAR WEEKEND This weekend marks the first time that the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series will compete on the same track, over the same weekend. Rahal is looking forward to the historic weekend. “It’s monumental. It’s a shame we will not have fans in attendance to see it all with us, but this is a great weekend for motorsports and I’m excited to see what this can do for us in the future.”
SPENCER ON PHYSICAL PREPARATION AND THE SAUNA “I’ve been training a lot leading up to this weekend. I’ve been doing more workouts outside in the heat trying to prepare for the weather and the aeroscreen. At Pit Fit Training, we’ve also been adding in some time in the sauna to our workouts to help get acclimated to the conditions we expect.”
SPENCER ON THE CHALLENGES OF THE EVENT “It’s going to be a challenging weekend. The IMS road course is always pretty tricky. There are some technical sections with corners right on top of each other so you have to be very accurate because one small mistake can affect three or four corners rather than just one. We don’t know how the track will change following the NASCAR rubber that will go down before qualifying. We will try our best to predict what will happen but it’s going to be important to be able to react and make adjustments inside the car to get the most out of it. The track temperature will most likely be much higher than we have experienced at this track before. Typically, the rubber that is laid down on a track becomes more slippery with higher temperatures but as this track isn’t used very often it might not affect it as much. The biggest change for me might be inside the cockpit with it being a hot day and my first race with the Aeroscreen.”
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (June 18, 2020) – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) announced today that Hy-Vee, Inc., an employee-owned supermarket corporation that operates more than 265 retail stores across eight Midwestern states, will be the primary sponsor of Graham Rahal’s No. 15 NTT INDYCAR SERIES entry at the Iowa 300 at Iowa Speedway on Saturday, July 18.
“We are excited to be partnering with Hy-Vee for this race,” said Bobby Rahal, team co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing along with David Letterman and Michael Lanigan. “This partnership enables RLL to deliver our driver, Graham Rahal, along with the excitement of the INDYCAR SERIES to Hy-Vee’s shoppers and consumers in Iowa, and we couldn’t be more excited to have their logo on our car during this event.”
After recent races at Iowa Speedway have been scheduled to run in the daytime, the INDYCAR SERIES will return to the popular night-race format at Iowa Speedway for 2020 with races on Friday and Saturday nights. For more information on the series or team, please visit www.indycar.com and www.rahal.com.
About Hy-Vee, Inc. Hy-Vee, Inc. is an employee-owned corporation operating more than 265 retail stores across eight Midwestern states with sales of $10 billion annually. The supermarket chain is synonymous with quality, variety, convenience, healthy lifestyles, culinary expertise and superior customer service. Hy-Vee ranks in the Top 10 Most Trusted Brands and has been named one of America’s Top 5 favorite grocery stores. The company’s more than 85,000 employees provide “A Helpful Smile in Every Aisle” to customers every day. For additional information, visit www.hy-vee.com.
Round 1 of 14 in the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES RACE NOTES/QUOTES – Saturday, June 6, 2020
RAHAL HINDERED BY RACE CAR ISSUES ON THE GRID THAT LIMITED HIS FINISH TO 17TH PLACE IN THE GENESYS 300; THE TEAM WAS UNABLE TO REPAIR SATO’S RACE CAR IN TIME FOR THE RACE AFTER A CRASH IN QUALIFYING
GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Fleet Cost & Care Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “This one got away from us for sure. Our car was fast and I think the guys did a great job but we just had a lot of unforced errors and a couple of stop-and-go penalties. The car wouldn’t start on the grid and needed to be reprogrammed. I said to the guys that the car was built perfectly; the car was fast today. I’m disappointed to come out of here with no points for either car considering we had fast race cars Off we go to the GMR Grand Prix and turn this around.”
FAST FACTS: Rahal qualified seventh but was unable to leave the grid with the field to complete the pace laps after the car would not start. The team had to pull the car behind the pit wall and reprogram the ECU and he rejoined the field one lap down after the race started. The series penalized him for unapproved changes and re-entry from the garage and he was assessed a stop and go penalty which dropped him to three laps down and in 21st place. He was able to regain a lap later after a caution flag came out on Lap 38 of 200 for rookie VeeKay and Palou, who made contact. After his third stop on Lap 82 under caution for debris, he regained another lap to run one lap down to the leaders. There was a slight problem with the inside rear tire on his fourth stop on Lap 120 while he was running in 20th place but he did not lose a position other than track position. On Lap 146, race leader and eventual winner Dixon passed to put him two laps down. On Lap 156 he made another pit stop and had to maneuver around Ferrucci’s car in the pit before him, due to Ferrucci being sideways in the pit box which lost Rahal a little time on his stop. He was in 18th when he had to serve a stop and go penalty on Lap 169 for running more than 35 green laps on a set of tires which dropped him to 20th. Second place runner Rosenqvist brought out a caution period when he crashed and soon thereafter Ericsson’s car stopped in the pits with an issue. Those incidents, coupled with passing Hinchcliffe in the pits, moved Rahal to 17th by Lap 193, which he held until the checkered flag… Was his 13th race here… He 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 THREE poles (2009 – St. Pete street course, Kansas oval; 2017 – Detroit Race 1 street) and his highest series season-ending standing is fourth place in 2015.
TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 ABeam Consulting Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “I’m sorry to all the fans that I couldn’t race. The boys did all they could to repair the car after the crash in qualifying. It’s really hard to believe and understand what happened. It was before the actual timed lap; it was only the warm-up and usually you build up speed and feel the car. When I approached Turn 1, I immediately lost the rear end. Perhaps I was maybe a little outside to make a better felling of it but unfortunately the track today was extremely slippery which I really didn’t know. Unfortunately, I crashed into the wall. In normal circumstances I think the boys would be able to quickly repair the car but since it was a compressed one-day event and not enough time before the race, they did absolutely everything they could up until the last minute so I want to thank them. I have been waiting for eight months to race and have to wait another three weeks now and am extremely disappointed. I also feel bad for my teammate Graham. He had an absolutely fantastic qualifying and he drove the race so hard but it was unfortunate neither car scored points today. I’ve been pretty disappointed today but I have to stay focused and come back stronger in three weeks’ time.”
FAST FACTS: On his second warm up lap in qualifying, Sato lost traction and the rear of his race car swung around and me made contact with the wall at approx. 4:28 p.m. CT. He was checked and released from the infield care center. The car sustained rear and left-side damage. The team worked diligently to repair his race car but was unable to do so in time to complete the series safety check and go through tech inspection before the start of the race therefore Sato was unable to compete…. Has FIVE INDYCAR SERIES wins (2013 – Long Beach street course, 2017 – Indy 500 oval, 2018 – Portland road, 2019 – Barber road, St. Louis short oval) and NINE poles (2011 Iowa oval, Edmonton street; 2013 Houston Race 1 street; 2014 St. Pete street, Detroit Race 2 street; 2017 Detroit Race 2, Pocono oval; 2019 Barber, Texas oval).
NEXT UP: The GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will take place on July 4.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan RacingGenesys 300 – Texas Motor Speedway Pre-Race Notes Round 1 of 14 in the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES
DATE: June 6, 2020
PRACTICE BROADCAST: Live on INDYCAR Pass, the direct-to-consumer streaming product from NBC Sports Gold, on Saturday from 1-3:30 p.m ET. Also live on the INDYCAR Radio Network (IRN) and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis).
QUALIFYING BROADCAST: Live on INDYCAR Pass from 5-6 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 6. Also live on the IRN and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis).
PRE-RACE BROADCAST: Live Saturday, June 6 beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, INDYCAR Pass and the IRN. Coverage will also air on Sirius 113 and XM 209.
RACE BROADCAST: Live Saturday, June 6 beginning at 8 p.m. ET on NBC, INDYCAR Pass and the IRN. Coverage will also air on Sirius 113 and XM 209.
TRACK LAYOUT: 1.5-mile oval RACE LENGTH: 200 laps / 300 miles – shortened from 248 laps / 360.84 miles
2019 WINNER: Josef Newgarden 2019 POLESITTER: Takuma Sato (2-lap average speed of 220.250 mph)
RAHAL’S BEST TMS START/FINISH: 3rd in 2012 / 1st in 2016; will be his 13th race here RAHAL’S HIGHEST SERIES START/FINISH: Pole at St. Pete (street) 2009, Kansas (oval) 2009, Detroit (street) 2017 / 1st in St. Pete in 2008, Fontana (oval; 500 miles) 2015, Mid-Ohio (road) 2015, Texas (oval) 2016; Detroit Race 1 (street) 2017, Detroit Race 2 (street) 2017
SATO’S BEST TMS START / FINISH: 1st in 2019 with RLL / 5th in 2011 with KVRT; will be his 12th race here SATO’S HIGHEST SERIES START / FINISH: Pole at Iowa (oval) 2011, Edmonton (street) 2011, Houston Race 1 (street) 2013, St. Pete (street) 2014, Detroit Dual 2 (street) 2014, Detroit Dual 2 2017, Pocono (oval) 2017, Barber (road) 2019, Texas (oval) 2019 / 1st in Long Beach (2013), Indianapolis 500 (2017), Portland (road) 2018, Barber (2019), St. Louis (2019)
RLL’S TOP START / FINISH AT TMS: 1st by Scott Sharp (2007) and Takuma Sato (2019) / 1st by Graham Rahal 2016
NEWS & NOTES:
TEAM RETURNS TO TMS AFTER STARTING FROM POLE IN 2019 & FINISHING THIRD The Genesys 300 will mark the 18th event for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) at the 1.5-mile, high-banked Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) oval. The team’s highest start of pole came in 2019 with Takuma Sato ad 2007 with Scott Sharp. The highest finish of first came in 2016 with Graham Rahal. The team earned another front row start in 2004 when Buddy Rice qualified second. Overall the team has earned six top-five finishes and 11, top-10’s at the track.
Prior to the 2020 event, the team prepared a total of 25 entries for drivers such as Kenny Brack (2003 x2), Buddy Rice (2004 x2; 2005, 2006), Vitor Meira (2004 x2; 2005), Danica Patrick (2005, 2006), Jeff Simmons (2007), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2008), Jay Howard (2011, Schmidt/RLL) Takuma Sato (2012, 2018-2019), James Jakes (2013) and Graham Rahal (2013-2019). The No. 15 Fleet Cost & Care entry for Graham Rahal and No. 30 ABeam Consulting entry for Takuma Sato will bring that total to 27 in 2020.
GRAHAM HOPES TO RETURN TO WINNERS CIRCLE AT TMS In Graham Rahal’s 12 races here, his best start came in 2012 of third and best finish is his win in 2016 that still stands as the closest finish in TMS history at 0.0080 of a second. In total, he has three podium finishes, four top-five’s and six top-10s in his 12 races. Last year, he started 9th and dropped to 12 by Lap 11 but managed to go the farthest on the first stint and cycled into the lead on Lap 61 before he made his first stop on Lap 63. He returned to the track in 9th and temporarily held 10th before the next round of stops began and he moved into eighth before his second stop on Lap 119. The team added one-half of a turn to his front wing and his race car improved. Once the round of pit stops was complete, he was running sixth by Lap 124/248. He took over fifth when Hunter-Reay made a stop on Lap 179 and into fourth when Rossi pit on Lap 187. He made his third and final stop on Lap 188 and returned to the track in 12th place behind cars that needed to make another stop. He was in eight when Hinchcliffe made contact and brought out the caution from Laps 219-225. When Hunter-Reay pit, he moved to sixth for the restart and held the position until another caution came out from Laps 229-235 for contact between Herta and Dixon that moved him into fourth. He passed Pagenaud for third on Lap 237 after the restart and held the position until the checkered flag for a podium finish and his third top-three at TMS. He is looking forward to getting back on track at Texas. “I’m extremely excited for us to get back going. I think it’s really important that we get back to racing to give people something to watch and be excited for. And really for our sponsors, our team and for the sport in general, it’s critical that we get back to work. I think the series has done an amazing job being patient, finding the right time for us to get back on track, and we’re thankful that Eddie (Gossage), Mark (Miles) and the team at Texas Motor Speedway have made this possible.”
2019 TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY POLE SITTER SATO HOPES TO CARRY OVER COMPETITIVENESS In his 11 previous races here, Takuma has a best start of pole in 2019 and has earned three top-10 finishes with the best being fifth place in 2011 with KVRT. After starting from pole last year, Sato had the race in hand and led the first stint by as much as two seconds over second place Dixon at one point before his first pit stop on Lap 61. He overshot his pit and hit a crewman which led to a stop and go penalty that caused him to fall off the lead lap and into last place. He moved up from 22nd to 15th by the checkered flag. He is looking forward to the possibility of another strong run at TMS. “We are all excited to get back to racing! It’s been a challenging time all over the world but we are so fortunate to be able to go to race. It’s great for fans and everyone who supports the sport. I totally understand that we have to go with very strict procedures for safety. Everyone needs to take care and protect people. We all do our best even without fans there. We know everyone is watching on TV and this is a very important step for moving forward. I really appreciate all the sponsors, INDYCAR, Texas Motor Speedway and everyone who was involved to make this happen. I would hope we can carry over the competitiveness from 2019, but the car is different with the Aeroscreen from last year and few other areas too and of course the conditions will be different. It’s never easy to carry competitiveness over to the next year because so many small elements could affect massively but our engineers worked very hard on preparation so I am confident that we will be in good shape.”
TAKUMA ON WINNING POLE IN 2019 “We were pretty competitive in practice but with such a short practice, we needed to go through race setup and qualify simulation. It’s tough to predict but I realized on the out lap that the balance was great and I was able to commit to go really fast on Turn 1 on the green lap. At that moment, I knew our time was competitive but didn’t really think about winning pole. It was a great to see in the end!”
GRAHAM AND TAKUMA ON THEIR FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH THE AEROSCREEN ON AN OVAL “There are a lot of questions,” said Rahal.“I don’t think anybody, aside from those who have driven it on a superspeedway, which is only a few people, will have the answers. Obviously we’re going out there for the first time to run this Aeroscreen at night, in a race, and obviously in traffic as well. So we will see how it will take shape but I feel pretty good about it and I think everybody is well prepared. It’s the same for everybody, so no excuses we need to go out there and make the most of it.” “Honestly I have no idea how it will be,” added Sato. “Even though I heard feedback from other drivers who tested but I never drove with Aeroscreen on an oval so I hope it will go well.”
GRAHAM ON THE CHALLENGES OF HAVING THE SEASON OPENER ON AN OVAL & PIT STRATEGY “Well it’s not just an oval, it’s Texas Motor Speedway. It’s always a crazy race, always a crazy event for everybody to be watching, but now as most of us haven’t even been in a car in four months, it’s going to make it very interesting to see how we can all perform. I expect the veterans and those with cooler and smarter heads will prevail as we go into this. But it will be interesting to see as there are a lot of questions. We will see how this entire thing is going to take shape and how this entire day is going to go. (On the mandatory stop for tires every 35 laps:) It certainly will be different to have stops every 35 laps. I think what will be interesting is to see how people utilize the tires, what they do with their fuel savings because 35 laps is only about a half of a stint. So we’ll see how it all takes shape, but also as the race is only 200 laps this year, that changes things up quite a lot as well.”
TAKUMA ON THE CHALLENGES OF A ONE-DAY EVENT, PIT STRATEGY AND MORE “Everything sounds very challenging but once again we all have to deal with. We will do our preparations as much as we can and see how it goes. Once again we should just be happy as we can start the season but it will be even better when you have a good race especially. It (tire strategy) will impact the race but we need to see all the aspects. Safety is the most important to whatever we have to do. We just need to follow guidelines but hopefully we can find out ourselves that it will work for us at the end of the race! I am so thankful for the support from my primary sponsor ABeam even when it’s a one-day event and during a very tough time for the any business. But they support us and that is just fantastic.”
The 2020 NTT INDYCAR Series kicks off on June 6 with the Genesys 300 on the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway oval. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s INDYCAR Technical Director Tom German answered a few questions in preparation for the event.
With the start of the season put on hold for 2.5 months, what has been the focus and how has the engineering group interacted despite the shelter-in-place situation? “For the RLL INDYCAR engineering team, the work-from-home transition was seamless. Our normal schedule includes a variety of locations. Between race events, track tests, development tests, and virtual testing we often collaborate and share results from different locations. For us, the key difference has been working in the same location every day.
“Like many across the world, our biggest challenge was uncertainty. Fortunately, we knew there would be another opportunity to compete in the Indianapolis 500 and preparation became our primary focus. While our focus remained constant, the details changed several times. Track tests and wind tunnel tests were cancelled, the race was moved to August, and tire quantities were reduced. With the extra time, we could explore each of these changes and adjust. I was impressed with the team’s ability to absorb change and focus on “new” solutions, while dealing with the uncertainty surrounding all of us.”
Every challenge presents opportunities. Have any positives come out of the hiatus in terms of new methods of working together or etc? “The INDYCAR iRacing Challenge was a good opportunity. We inverted our engineering structure and gave some of our younger engineers the opportunity to lead. This approach gave the less-experienced engineers a platform to demonstrate their capability, but it also yielded some unexpected insights. It was great to see the team working together, having fun, and pushing each other.”
What are some of the challenges all teams face at Texas Motor Speedway? “Texas is always challenging. Each year a complex combination of handling, tire degradation, and pit strategy define the results. With a new tire specification, the Aeroscreen’s first race, 35-lap maximum stints, and the 2-1/2 month break; we expect an exciting race. Our initial focus is tuning our setup to the 2020 tire specification, aerodynamics and mass distribution. Since this will be the first time RLL has run the 2020 Aeroscreen on an oval and the new tire specification, getting good direction in practice is critical.”
What is the impact of the 35-lap max on a set of tires in terms of strategy? “Although limiting the maximum tire stint to 35 laps reduces strategy options, the tire allotment gives teams a lot of flexibility. Teams may use six or seven sets of tires in the race (five or six pit stops). With six sets, the first stop would be between Laps 25-35. If a team elects to do an extra pit stop and use seven sets of tires, the pit windows are wide open. They could stop on an early yellow and attempt to catch another yellow after the six-set teams have pitted on green or they could trade off fresh tires and track position on a late race pit stop.
“Key factors will be the timing of yellow flags, the ability to pass on fresh tires, and the tire degradation. Although we will get some data in the afternoon practice, the night race may be significantly different.”
The team ran well last year with pole for Takuma and a third-place finish for Graham. Will the addition of the Aeroscreen negate that or will the fundamental setup carry over? “Takuma did a great job in qualifying and Graham endured in the race and brought home a podium finish. While some of the 2019 basics are valuable, ovals are all about the details. All the INDYCAR competitors are strong, differentiation will come from making decisions for the race based on data collected in practice. The team that leverages the practice data the best will have a speed advantage in the race. But, with wide open strategy options, speed may not be enough to win.”
The last time we ran on an oval was nine months ago. Is there a different mindset to running an oval vs. road or street course? From an engineering, crew and driver standpoint? “Yes, INDYCAR is the only series in the world that offers this much diversity. The difference between ovals and road course is the most significant. Road course events are about finding the right compromise for lap time, you rarely optimize a single corner. Ovals are more focused; engineers and drivers strive to find the best combination of driver line and setup, often for just one corner. Changes at ovals are also smaller, a slight change to the driver’s line and fine tuning the setup improve performance.
“Mindset is important, everything at an oval happens fast. Running two or three cars wide at 200 mph demands constant focus. While a road course mistake may cost a position, a mistake at Texas will end your race. With nine months since the last oval race and only one practice session, ramping up quickly is key.”
Rahal Letterman Lanigan RacingPre-Race NotesFirestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg – Streets of St. Petersburg, FloridaRound 1 of 17 in the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES DATE: Friday – Sunday, March 13-15, 2020 PRACTICE BROADCASTS: Live on INDYCAR Pass, the direct-to-consumer streaming product from NBC Sports Gold, on Friday from 10:45-11:30 a.m. and 3-3:45 p.m., on Saturday…
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SPENCER PIGOT TO COMPETE IN THE GMR GRAND PRIX AND INDY 500 FOR RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING WITH CITRONE/BUHL AUTOSPORT
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (February 27, 2020) – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) announced today that Spencer Pigot, who made three starts for the team in 2016, will return to RLL in 2020 for the GMR Grand Prix on May 9 and the Indianapolis 500 on May 24 in a Honda-powered car entered by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing with Citrone/Buhl Autosport (CBA).
CBA was formed in early 2020 by former Indy car driver Robbie Buhl and his brother and business partner Tom, and Robert Citrone, founder of Discovery Capital Management and the largest minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and his son Nick, a Data Analytics Coordinator for the Pittsburgh Penguins NHL team. Robbie and Tom own Buhl Sport Detroit, a motorsports marketing company that operates a rallycross team and an advanced driver training program called Teen Street Skills.
Orlando, Florida native Pigot, 26, earned back-to-back championships in 2014 and 2015 in the INDYCAR Ladder Series with his 2014 Pro Mazda championship and 2015 Indy Lights title. He made his NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut with RLL in 2016 in the St. Petersburg season opener and also competed in the INDYCAR Grand Prix and Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the team. He made an additional seven starts for Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR) that year and joined ECR fulltime from 2017-2019 with a career best start of third place at the 2019 Indy 500 and career best finish of second place at Iowa Speedway in 2018.
“I’m very excited to join Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing with Citrone/Buhl Autosport for this year’s GMR Grand Prix and Indianapolis 500,” said Pigot. “I ran my first INDYCAR SERIES race and Indy 500 with RLL in 2016 so it will be nice to return to a team with some familiar faces. I can’t thank everyone at RLL and Citrone/Buhl Autosport enough for their efforts in putting this deal together and the opportunity to compete in another Indy 500. I can’t wait for May!”
The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing with Citrone/Buhl Autosport entry for Spencer Pigot will make its debut on track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday, May 8 for practice for the GMR Grand Prix and will attempt to qualify for the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500, which will be held May 24.
RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING ANNOUNCES KEY ADDITIONS TO SALES TEAM
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (February 3, 2020) – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) announced today two key additions to the team’s sales staff. Sports marketing veteran Pat Wood has joined the team as Vice President, Business Development and Sam Sluga has joined as Account Executive, Business Development. Both will report to Tom Knox, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing.
“With the positive momentum and direction of INDYCAR, along with the increased interest and support in the IMSA Series, we feel the time is right to expand Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s sales and marketing efforts,” said Tom Knox, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing. “We are excited to have the veteran sales leadership that Pat brings to the team as well as the research and insights Sam will provide for our team. At RLL, we pride ourselves on investing in our people while being driven to a higher standard with a customer-first approach to our business.”
RLL opened the 2020 racing season with back-to-back wins in the GTLM class of the Rolex 24 at Daytona with BMW Team RLL. The 11-race WeatherTech Sports Car Challenge returns to action with the 12 Hours of Sebring, March 21. The 17-race 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season begins on March 15 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
“I am excited to join Rahal Letterman Lanigan as we begin the 2020 racing season,” said Wood. “Our ownership group and the senior management team have assembled a best-in-class organization to bring value to our commercial partners and drive results both on and off the track. I can’t wait to get started and be a part of the team.”
“A career in motorsports has been a goal of mine since I was a kid and to be able to get my start with a top-notch organization like Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing is a dream come true,” added Sluga. “I’m looking forward to what this season brings!”
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