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RACE NOTES/QUOTES – Sunday, May 2, 2021

Rahal Letterman Lanigan RacingXPEL 375 – Texas Motor Speedway
Round 4 of 21 in the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES
RACE NOTES/QUOTES – Sunday, May 2, 2021
 
 
RAHAL EARNED HIS FOURTH PODIUM FINISH AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY WITH THIRD PLACE; SATO HAD A PIT EQUIPMENT ISSUE ON HIS FIRST STOP AND FINISHED 14TH IN THE XPEL 375
 
GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Fleet Cost & Care Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “A great weekend comes to a close for us here in Texas. We got two top-five’s for the Fleet Cost and Care boys. We did a great job battling; we got to lead there for a minute today but we just got a little too loose in the end there to go battle Pato and Josef, but in general it was a great weekend; a good points weekend. Man, St. Pete stings a little more now but we are going to keep our heads down and keep working hard. Good job by Honda, that engine, she’s seen her last moments (engine change). She got us to this point with good reliability. On to the next one!FAST FACTS: He started ninth based on entrant points after qualifying was cancelled due to inclement weather on Saturday. A multi-car crash on the opening lap that was set off when Fittipaldi made contact with Bourdais meant the first 18 laps were run under caution. After that, Rahal held ninth place until his first stop on Lap 72 from seventh place. After the round of stops were complete, he ran seventh and passed Power for sixth on Lap 115. Harvey brought out a caution on Lap 117 and the majority of the field made stop s on Lap 119 under caution. A quick stop by the crew got Rahal three positions and he returned to the track in third place. O’Ward passed him on Lap 128/249. He regained third when he passed Power on Lap 134 after setting his fastest lap of the race to do so. He passed O’Ward on Lap 136 for second and took the lead of the race on Lap 140, which he held for 13 laps before opting for a more conservative fuel pace in second behind Dixon from Lap 153 until his third stop on Lap 186. A caution came out on Lap 190 for Rosenqvist, who lost a wheel. Newgarden came out of the pits at the right time and ran ahead of Rahal, who was sixth after his stop. Sato was in the race lead and on a different fuel strategy after a mechanical failure on a wheel gun on his first stop.  Once those who hadn’t made their final stop pit, Rahal moved back into third on Lap 211. His race car wasn’t quite as strong as the previous stint and he couldn’t pressure Newgarden, who pit three laps later than he did, for position and finished third which is his fourth top-three finish at TMS… Was his 15th race here.  In his previous 13 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, five top-five’s and seven top-10s in his 13 races… 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… He moved from his pre-race rank of 9th to 5th in series point standings with 107. 
TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 Panasonic / Mi-Jack Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “For us, very unfortunate Texas races, everything was against us. The start went well, running in the single position at the moment in P9. For the first pitstop we had an issue and immediately went a lap down, so, everything was track position. Then I tried to unlap myself which I did, and at the moment it was good but from there we tried a different strategy, different sequence and at the moment it looked like is was working okay but then we caught the yellow. So the strategy had no meaning with that so we basically lost another lap. Tough race, but hopefully we collected good data, and we are off to the Indy GP and, of course, the Indy 500 which are big races so we’re looking forward to that.”FAST FACTS: He started 11th based on entrant points when qualifying was cancelled due to inclement weather on Saturday. A multi-car crash on the opening lap, which was set off when Fittipaldi made contact with Bourdais, meant the first 18 laps were run under caution.  He passed Herta on the Lap 19 restart for 10th and held the position until Rosenqvist passed him on Lap 59. He made his first stop on Lap 64 and the wheel gun on the outside rear failed which caused a delay on the stop. He returned to the track in 16th place. He made his second stop on Lap 119 during the caution for debris from Harvey’s issue and returned to the track in 15th place. He passed Veekay for 14th for seven laps before he returned to 15th.  He made a stop on Lap 166and ran 13th but as the next pit cycle began, he moved up to lead 12 laps before he dropped to third and then pit on Lap 211. He returned to the track in 14th place and held the position until the checkered flag… It was his 13th race here.  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.… Has SIX INDYCAR SERIES wins (2013 – Long Beach street course, 2017 – Indy 500 oval, 2018 – Portland road, 2019 – Barber road, St. Louis short oval, 2020 – Indianapolis 500) and TEN 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; 2020 St. Louis (Race 2) … He moved from his pre-race rank of 11th to 12th in series point standings with 84. 
NEXT UP:  The GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will take place on Saturday, May 15.
 
 

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Genesys 300 – Texas Motor Speedway

Rahal Letterman Lanigan RacingGenesys 300 – Texas Motor Speedway
Round 3 of 21 in the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES
RACE NOTES/QUOTES – Saturday, May 1, 2021


RAHAL AND SATO FINISHED FIFTH AND NINTH IN THE GENESYS 300 AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY; RAHAL WILL START FROM 9TH PLACE FOR SUNDAY’S XPEL 375 AND SATO 11TH

GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Fleet Cost & Care Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “I think the last two stints we were the best car on track. The second to last stint, I got up to Alex and tried to get around him but the yellow came out.  I think the Fleet Cost & Care guys did a great job today. Honestly, on the first stint we struggled which is why we had to pit early. The left front tire just kind of gave out on me but from there on it was damn good. It’s (Sunday’s race) going to be temperature sensitive. I would anticipate tomorrow is going to be very different. Even today, those last couple of stints, the way that the car was, was completely different. Honda did a great job; the motor was fast man. To go by Newgarden the way I did, I was super pleased with that. But tomorrow is a different animal. We’ll go back and work on the Fleet Cost & Care machine a little bit. The boys did a great job in the pits, and hopefully we can have a better run tomorrow. We start further forward tomorrow so that’s a positive.”

  • FAST FACTS: Inclement weather compressed the track schedule and the field was set by entrant points and Rahal started 13th. He gained a spot at the start and held 12th until he was the first to pit on Lap 51/212. Bourdais brought out the caution on Lap 56 after Newgarden made contact with him. The timing hurt Rahal, who dropped to 20th and lost a lap. He was waved around before the race went green again and lso topped off on fuel.  It took a good portion of the race to recover from the first caution.  Quick stops and a race that that was “coming to him” helped him move forward.  He passed Rossi for eighth on a restart from a caution for Hinchcliffe then took a few laps to get around Harvey, who had squeezed him which led to INDYCAR reviewing the move but too no action.  He ran seventh on Lap 177 and made a great pass on Newgarden on Lap 180 for sixth. Herta had an issue and Rahal passed him for fifth on Lap 189 and held the position until the checkered flag on Lap 212…  Was his 14th race here.  In his previous 13 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, five top-five’s and seven top-10s in his 13 races… 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… He moved from his pre-race rank of 13th to 9th in series point standings with 71.

TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 Panasonic / Mi-Jack Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “It was a tough one. We got off the line pretty well and immediately got to the top-10; that was a really good start. But then we tried to undercut and dive into the pit and that was exactly when the yellow happened so we lost a lap, we were at the back of the queue and it was very unfortunate. But then after that, with a yellow, we got the lap back (wave around) so that was a little fortunate for us. We tried to extend the stint but then we had a huge cut in the left front tire that gave a lot of vibration and we were lucky we didn’t get more damage on that one even further but we lost another few track positions. But then after that, the last two stints we came back quite strong. Finishing P9 was not exactly what we wanted but I think we gathered really good data. I know everyone will be better tomorrow but hopefully we will be another step forward.”

  • FAST FACTS: He started 12th based on entrant points when qualifying was cancelled due to inclement weather. He moved up to eighth on the opening lap and settled into ninth, which he held until his first stop on Lap 54. Unfortunately, a caution came out on Lap 56 which limited his opportunity to move back up. He got back on the lead lap with a wave around but was in 19th place.  He moved as high as 12th by Lap 151/212 after finally getting past VeeKay, whom he battled for at least 26 laps.  He passed Pagenaud for 10th on Lap 175 and took over ninth when Herta pit with an issue on Lap 190. It was his 12th race here and first since 2019.  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.… Has SIX INDYCAR SERIES wins (2013 – Long Beach street course, 2017 – Indy 500 oval, 2018 – Portland road, 2019 – Barber road, St. Louis short oval, 2020 – Indianapolis 500) and TEN 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; 2020 St. Louis (Race 2))… He moved from his pre-race rank of 12th to 11th in series point standings with 67.

NEXT UP:  The XPEL 375 at Texas Motor Speedway will take place on Sunday. Live coverage will begin on NBCSN at 5 p.m. ET.

Rahal and Sato Hope to Build on Past Success at Texas Motor Speedway in Doubleheader Events on Saturday & Sunday

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Genesys 300 & XPEL 375 – Texas Motor Speedway
Pre-Race Notes
Round 3 & 4 of 17 in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES

DATE:     Saturday- Sunday, May 1-2, 2021

PRACTICE BROADCAST:     Live on Peacock Premium on Saturday from 12:30–1 p.m. ET.  Also live on the INDYCAR Radio Network (IRN) and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis).

QUALIFYING BROADCAST:     Live on NBCSN at 4 p.m. ET Saturday. Also on Peacock Premium, the IRN and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis).

RACE BROADCASTS:     Live on NBCSN Saturday, May 1 beginning at 7 p.m. ET and live on NBCSN on Sunday, May 2 beginning at 5 p.m. ET. And also on Peacock Premium, IRN, and SiriusXM 205, indycar.comindycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app powered by NTT DATA.

TRACK LAYOUT:     1.5-mile oval
RACE LENGTH:     212 laps / 318 miles on Saturday; 248 laps / 372 miles on Sunday

2020 WINNER:     Scott Dixon
2020 POLESITTER:     Josef Newgarden (2-lap average speed of 215.740 mph)

RAHAL’S BEST TMS START / FINISH:     3rd in 2012 / 1st in 2016; will be his 14th 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:     10 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, St. Louis (oval; Race 2) 2020 / 6 Wins – Long Beach (2013), Indianapolis 500 (2017), Portland (2018), Barber (2019), St. Louis (2019), Indianapolis 500 (2020)

RLL’S TOP START / FINISH AT TMS:     1st by Scott Sharp (2007) and Takuma Sato (2019) / 1st by Graham Rahal 2016


NEWS & NOTES:

RLL AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
The Genesys 300 and XPEL 375 will mark the 19th and 20th events 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 and 2007 with Scott Sharp.  The highest finish is Graham Rahal’s win in 2016. 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 2021 event, the team prepared a total of 27 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; DNS in 2020), James Jakes (2013) and Graham Rahal (2013-2020).  The No. 15 Fleet Cost & Care entry for Graham Rahal and No. 30 Panasonic / Mi-Jack entry for Takuma Sato will bring that total to 29 in 2021.

GRAHAM HOPES TO RETURN TO WINNERS CIRCLE AT TMS
In Graham Rahal’s 13 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 13 races. Last year Rahal qualified seventh but was unable to leave the grid with the field to complete the pace laps after the car would not start. Limited crew were allowed on the grid with the race cars due to Covid-19 protocols and an engine tech would have been able to remedy the problem that effected three cars quickly otherwise. 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. Rahal is excited for the first – and second — oval race of the season.
            “It was a great feeling to win in Texas. To be able to fire the guns off after the race was pretty cool. The finish was a little closer than what we wanted. I can’t remember what the margin of victory was then but it was a couple inches maximum. Hopefully this time around we can get it done with a little more cushion.  I’m looking forward to going back to Texas, particularly after last weekend (in St. Pete). I thought we were looking for a top-three finish, feeling pretty strong really in the race and to not get any points or not get the result we hoped for was frustrating. Last year in Texas we actually qualified quite well, I think top seven, but the car wouldn’t start on the grid so we immediately started the race 2-3 laps down and you know from there just kind of held serve and did our thing, we couldn’t really pass anybody, we couldn’t really compete with anybody. We kind of just ran around all day so it wasn’t that much fun. But obviously it’s a double header this weekend. It’s going to be a big, big weekend for us points wise with races Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. The weather looks great. – upper 70’s which is nice compared to the 110 we normally get in Texas. So we are looking to see what we can do in the Fleet Cost & Care machine.”

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 in 2019 but not being able to maximize the potential in the race, Sato was looking forward to racing at TMS in 2020.  On his second warm up lap in qualifying, he 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 but 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 the same day therefore he was unable to compete.  He is looking forward to the possibility of another strong run at TMS.  
           “It’s going to be an exciting one because Texas is always an exciting race, it’s as simple as that. We had a good test and tried to help INDYCAR with the new aero kit as well as do the Firestone test and I think it was a very productive test for all of us. So it’s going to be quite a challenge, particularly the second lane in Texas now is very difficult to run. Firestone predicted about 20% less grip, so INDYCAR allowed us to have more downforce in order to go a little bit closer together to make for more overtaking. Which I believe it will succeed and we will see for the race, but all in all I think we had a very good baseline, and hopefully it’s the case because we only have one session and its straight to qualifying so hopefully we have a strong package.”

RAHAL ON THE APRIL TEST AT TMS AND THE EXPECTATION FOR THE DOUBLEHEADER
The test went okay for us. The car was very competitive on the long runs. It’s going to be interesting to see what INDYCAR does coming into the weekend.  There are rumors that they are looking to change the track with some grinding and maybe a new procedure to put some rubber down or peel up the solution that they tried to put on the track to create grip.  In the end it didn’t do its job a few years ago. I think INDYCAR has been working hard with the track at TMS to get rid of that and lay down some new rubber to give us somewhere to race, so it’ll be interesting to see what we get when we go back as compared to the test.  The expectation anywhere that we go is to be competitive and to win. I thought St. Pete we were close honestly.  The car, at the beginning stages of that race, we were able to move through some guys and be very competitive and we expect the same when we go to Texas.  I don’t think it matters where we are, a team like ourselves ought to be competitive everywhere.”

Firestone GP of St. Pete Post Race

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
NTT INDYCAR SERIES
RACE NOTES/QUOTES – Sunday, April 25, 2021

SATO DROVE TO A SIXTH PLACE FINISH IN THE FIRESTONE GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG; RAHAL RAN AS HIGH AS FOURTH BUT FINISHED 15TH AFTER BEING INVOLVED IN AN INCIDENT

GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 United Rentals Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “It was a frustrating day. I thought we had a pretty good car. I obviously came together with Alex; just kind of a racing incident. You know you have to make that move coming out of the pits. He blocked a little bit, which I would’ve done too so I don’t blame him. I tried to go down the inside and we just came together and then it looked like he had a flat tire and went straight through Turn 5 and that was that. After that it was just a long recovery for us, or trying to. We were only able to make up five spots in the end which was a little bit frustrating. The United Rentals guys deserved better today. I think we had a top three, top four car certainly. We were very, very competitive. But once you get stuck in the back there, it’s pretty hard to come through the field. We’ve just got to keep our heads down. We’ve got Texas next weekend. There are two races, two good opportunities so hopefully we can find something and go fast there.”

  • FAST FACTS: Qualified ninth and got by Dixon and O’Ward on the start to run seventh. He passed Veekay for sixth on Lap 23 and cycled into fourth place before his first stop on Lap 35. On the following lap, Rossi came out on cold tires to Rahal’s hot ones and as Rahal was passing him, the two made contact. Rossi had a punctured tire and could not make the left-hander and because Rahal was on the right, the two went into the tire barrier on the right. Once Rahal restarted, he was in 19th place and moved up to 16th before the closing laps.  Palou had an issue on the last lap so Rahal gained a spot to finish 15th… His best start here is pole in 2009 and best finish is a win in 2008 in his IndyCar Series debut – both history-making moments at the time as he became the youngest race winner in series history (2008), and youngest pole winner in series history (2009). Both records were eclipsed in 2019 by Colton Herta but he held them for 10 and 11 years, respectively.  Overall, he has earned one top-five and six top-10 starts here and has two top-five and five top-10 finishes. Year-by-year details are available upon request… 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… He is ranked 13th in series point standings with 41.

TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 Panasonic / Shield Cleansers Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “We came in sixth. I think we did great. The team did the right call on strategy and chose the tire. We ran black, red (alternate), black which I think is the right strategy for our car. I don’t have a complaint on the balance. I had a little body work damage that rattled a bit so I lost some downforce and drag. But Dixon was fast, I tried pushing harder. All in all I think after qualifiers the team did a fantastic job. The Shield Cleansers, Panasonic, 30 team did an incredible job once again. I’m certainly looking forward to going back to Texas!”

  • FAST FACTS: Takuma started 15th and drove to a sixth-place finish in his 12th race here.  He got by McLaughlin and Palou on the start for 13th and held the position. On a restart from caution for Johnson, Sato and Hinchcliffe battled for position which led to the latter pitting for new tires. He passed Hunter-Reay and O’Ward a few laps later and gained a spot when Veekay pit and was in ninth place by Lap 29. He cycled up to sixth by the time he made his first stop on Lap 35 and maintained his position through another stop and took the checkered flag in sixth.. In 12 races, his best start is pole in 2014 with AJ Foyt Racing (AFR) and best finish is fifth place in 2011 with KV Racing. Overall, he has earned five top-five and six top-10 starts here and has two top-five and six top-10 finishes. Year-by-year details are available upon request… Has SIX INDYCAR SERIES wins (2013 – Long Beach street course, 2017 – Indy 500 oval, 2018 – Portland road, 2019 – Barber road, St. Louis short oval, 2020 – Indianapolis 500) 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)… He is ranked 12th in series point standings with a total of 45.

NEXT UP: The series will head to Texas Motor Speedway for two races next Saturday and Sunday, May 1-2.

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg – QUALIFYING NOTES/QUOTES – Saturday, April 24, 2021

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
NTT INDYCAR SERIES
QUALIFYING NOTES/QUOTES – Saturday, April 24, 2021

#15: Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

RAHAL QUALIFIED NINTH FOR THE FIRESTONE GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG AND TAKUMA SATO QUALIFIED 15TH

1)         Colton Herta              1:00.3210 / 107.425 mph       (Group 1, Round 3)
9)         Graham Rahal           1:00.5678 / 106.988 mph       (Group 2, Round 2)  
15)       Takuma Sato             1:00.9167 / 106.375 mph       (Group 1, Round 1)

GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 United Rentals Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “Starting ninth is not bad, but honestly we had a car to advance. We were actually up on Colton’s time in Q2 until Turn 9.  We lost 3/10ths (of a second) in Turn 9 and that took us from being P1 to 9th. It’s a shame. I’m actually pretty frustrated because I know that the car had it so it’s disappointing to not be able to maximize that. I just got a lot of understeer. I kind of got held up early in Q2 which didn’t let me get the tire temperatures up. I think the tires were 20 degrees cooler in that lap in Q2 than my Q1 reds and I just couldn’t quite get the temp in. That’s part of the game. We will live to fight tomorrow. Hopefully we can a little better race, but obviously the car is extremely competitive and we are happy with where the United Rentals machine is right now.”

  • FAST FACTS: Will make his 14th Indy car start at the track… His best start here is pole in 2009 and best finish is a win in 2008 in his IndyCar Series debut – both history-making moments at the time as he became the youngest race winner in series history (2008), and youngest pole winner in series history (2009). Both records were eclipsed in 2019 by Colton Herta but he held them for 10 and 11 years, respectively.  Overall, he has earned one top-five and six top-10 starts here and has two top-five and five top-10 finishes. Year-by-year details are available upon request… 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… He is ranked seventh in series point standings with 26.

TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 Panasonic / Shield Cleansers Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “Qualifying was a bit frustrating.  We just needed two more tenths (of a second) to move up to the second segment. We did everything we tried, we just need a little bit more speed. We have one more session tomorrow morning – the warm up – and hopefully we can have a bit more progress. It was a difficult qualifying today. The race will be another story. It’s going to be a tough one but I think where we are (starting), we are a little bit more open for strategy and we will see. We need to move up.” 

  • FAST FACTS: The 2021 race will be Takuma’s 12th here.  In 11 races, his best start is pole in 2014 with AJ Foyt Racing (AFR) and best finish is fifth place in 2011 with KV Racing. Overall, he has earned five top-five and six top-10 starts here and has two top-five and six top-10 finishes. Year-by-year details are available upon request… Has SIX INDYCAR SERIES wins (2013 – Long Beach street course, 2017 – Indy 500 oval, 2018 – Portland road, 2019 – Barber road, St. Louis short oval, 2020 – Indianapolis 500) 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)… He is ranked 13th in series point standings with a total of 17.

NEXT UP:  The morning warmup will take place tomorrow from 9:05-9:35 a.m. ET.  The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be televised live on NBC beginning at 12 noon ET Sunday, April 25.

Rahal and Sato Were 10th and 18th in Today’s Lone 45 Minute Practice Session for the Firestone GP of St. Petersburg

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
NTT INDYCAR SERIES
PRACTICE NOTES/QUOTES – Friday, April 23, 2021

RAHAL AND SATO WERE 10TH AND 18TH FASTEST IN TODAY’S LONE 45 MINUTE PRACTICE FOR THE FIRESTONE GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG

1)         Josef Newgarden      1:00.8029 / 106.574 mph
10)       Graham Rahal           1:01.0912 / 106.070 mph      
18)       Takuma Sato             1:01.4601 / 105.434 mph

GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 United Rentals Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “It was a good start for us. In Practice 1, we ended up P10 but honestly we had good pace the whole time. I thought we had a couple of laps that would’ve put us in the top two or top three and one lap it went red and one lap I caught Josef in a little bit of traffic. But I felt really good.  I think the United Rentals car is strong this weekend. We need a little bit more work getting it to rotate in the back of the track a little bit better and we should be right there. Overall, it was a really good start for us.”

  • FAST FACTS: Will make his 14th Indy car start at the track… His best start here is pole in 2009 and best finish is a win in 2008 in his IndyCar Series debut – both history-making moments at the time as he became the youngest race winner in series history (2008), and youngest pole winner in series history (2009). Both records were eclipsed in 2019 by Colton Herta but he held them for 10 and 11 years, respectively.  Overall, he has earned one top-five and six top-10 starts here and has two top-five and five top-10 finishes. Year-by-year details are available upon request… 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… He is ranked seventh in series point standings with 26.

TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 Panasonic / Shield Cleansers Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “It was a short session. We had a little issue to come out and didn’t get a lap when we wanted (red flag came out) but it was the same for everyone else. It was a tough session, timing wise but we will see how we are tomorrow.”

  • FAST FACTS: The 2021 race will be Takuma’s 12th here.  In 11 races, his best start is pole in 2014 with AJ Foyt Racing (AFR) and best finish is fifth place in 2011 with KV Racing. Overall, he has earned five top-five and six top-10 starts here and has two top-five and six top-10 finishes. Year-by-year details are available upon request… Has SIX INDYCAR SERIES wins (2013 – Long Beach street course, 2017 – Indy 500 oval, 2018 – Portland road, 2019 – Barber road, St. Louis short oval, 2020 – Indianapolis 500) 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)… He is ranked 13th in series point standings with a total of 17. 

NEXT UP:  Practice 2 will take place from 9:45-10:30 a.m. ET tomorrow and qualifying will take place from 1:45-3:00 p.m. and be televised live on Peacock Premium and tape-delayed on NBCSN beginning at 10 p.m.  The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be televised live on NBC beginning at 12 PM ET Sunday, April 25 and the Green Flag will fly at 12:42 PM ET.

Rahal and Sato Return to the Streets of St. Petersburg for the Firestone Grand Prix

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Pre-Race Notes
Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg – Streets of St. Petersburg
Round 2 of 17 in the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES

DATE:     Friday – Sunday, April 23-25, 2021

PRACTICE BROADCAST:     Live on Peacock Premium on Friday from 4:15–5:00 p.m. ET, Saturday from 9:45–10:30 a.m. ET and Sunday from 9:05–9:35 a.m. ET.  Also live on the INDYCAR Radio Network (IRN) and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis).

QUALIFYING BROADCAST:     Live on Peacock Premium, the IRN and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis) from 1:45 – 3:10 p.m. ET Saturday. Same-day, tape delayed on NBCSN from 10-11 p.m. ET.

RACE BROADCAST:     Live on NBC Sunday, April 25 from 12-3 p.m. ET. And also on Peacock Premium, IRN, Sirius 211 and XM 205.

TRACK LAYOUT:     1.8-mile, 14-turn street course
RACE LENGTH:     100 laps / 181 miles
2020 WINNER:     Josef Newgarden
2020 POLESITTER:     Will Power (1:01.0369; 107.914 mph)

RLL’S TOP START / FINISH AT ST. PETE:     5th by Sato in 2018 / 2nd by Rahal in 2018; will be team’s 14th event here

RAHAL’S BEST START / FINISH IN ST. PETE:     1st in 2009 / 1st in 2008 – both with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing; will be his 14th race here

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 IN ST. PETE:     1st in 2014 with A.J. Foyt Racing / 5th in 2011 with KV Racing; will be his 12th race here

SATO’S HIGHEST SERIES START / FINISH:     10 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, St. Louis (oval; Race 2) 2020 / 6 Wins – Long Beach (2013), Indianapolis 500 (2017), Portland (2018), Barber (2019), St. Louis (2019), Indianapolis 500 (2020)


NEWS & NOTES:

RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT ST. PETE
The 2021 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will mark the 14th INDYCAR SERIES race for Rahal Letterman Lanigan (RLL) Racing in St. Petersburg. The team has entered the No. 15 United Rentals Honda for Graham Rahal and the No. 30 Panasonic / Shield Cleansers Honda for Takuma Sato.  The team prepared Indy cars for Danica Patrick (2005, 2006), Buddy Rice (2005, 2006), Vitor Meira (2005), Jeff Simmons (2007), Scott Sharp (2007), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2008), Takuma Sato (2012, 2018-20), Graham Rahal (2013-2020), James Jakes (2013) and Spencer Pigot (2016) prior to this year. The team led 11 laps with Takuma Sato in 2012 and four laps with Hunter-Reay in 2008 (G. Rahal won w/NHLR) and has earned five top-10 finishes with the best being fifth by Meira in 2005.  The highest starting position by the team is fifth place by Sato and highest finish is second by Graham Rahal – both in 2018.

GRAHAM’S HISTORY-MAKING APPEARANCES IN ST. PETE
In 2021, Graham will make his 14th Indy car start at this track.  His best start here is pole in 2009 and best finish is a win in 2008 in his IndyCar Series debut – both history-making moments at the time as he became the youngest race winner in series history (2008), and youngest pole winner in series history (2009). Both records were eclipsed in 2019 by Colton Herta but he held them for 10 and 11 years, respectively.  Overall, he has earned one top-five and six top-10 starts here and has two top-five and five top-10 finishes. Year-by-year details are available upon request. Graham is looking forward to the opportunity to get a second win in St. Pete.
           “From a race perspective it seems like we are always pretty strong in the races. Our tire degradation is a lot better than most. I thought last year our strategy was playing out perfect, but we got a poorly timed yellow that really kind of threw a wrench in our plans but that happens. I was able to avoid Will Power, who crashed right in front of me, and I think Rossi was right in front of me and there were a lot of incidents that we were able to kind of miss that helped. But this time around I have high expectations and hopes for what we’ve developed in the off season going to Sebring to test and the things we’ve done there, damper changes and things. So hopefully our performance, when it comes to St. Pete, will be better off. It hasn’t been that long since we were there, obviously it’s only been a few months being that we finished our season there last year, and it’s at the leading edge of it this year, which is traditional. We are excited to go back. It will be a great weekend.”

2020 ST. PETE RACE REWIND FOR GRAHAM
In 2020, Graham started 17th and passed Palou, Ericsson and Pagenaud on the start but was passed by Ferrucci to run 15th. As others made their pit stops, he was able to stay on track longer and cycled up to third before his first of two stops on Lap 34 and returned to the track eighth.  He moved into seventh when polesitter Power had trouble and into sixth after an alternate strategy driver (VeeKay) pit on Lap 44. On the third restart from caution, he lost a position to O’Ward and ran seventh. He lost another to Andretti, who was on a different strategy, on Lap 55. As the next round of stops began, he cycled to the race lead and had just set his fastest race lap on Lap 69 on his in-lap for his final stop when previous race leader Rossi crashed and brought out the caution and closed the pits. He led two laps and when the pits opened, he made his final stop on Lap 72/100 and, because his strategy was negated, he returned to the track in 15th place. Two more caution periods drive thru and other penalties and heavy sprinkles ensued, and he ultimately finished in ninth place.

TAKUMA AT ST. PETE
The 2021 race will be Takuma’s 12th here.  In 11 races, his best start is pole in 2014 with AJ Foyt Racing (AFR) and best finish is fifth place in 2011 with KV Racing. Overall, he has earned five top-five and six top-10 starts here and has two top-five and six top-10 finishes. Year-by-year details are available upon request.  St. Pete is one of Takuma’s favorite INDYCAR SERIES venues and he hopes to have a competitive weekend.
               “What makes St. Pete challenging as the first street course race of the season is just the unknown factor. St. Pete usually gives us slow speed, complex sections as well as very high speed (areas) which is quite challenging for the drivers. Regardless of if it’s the beginning of the season or the end, we both really enjoy St. Petersburg and hopefully we can bring the competitiveness. Usually, we are very competitive there. My highpoints for St. Pete are very positive. I started from the front row on pole position and led the race but unfortunately, I haven’t been on a podium yet, but we’ve been very close. Last year we struggled a little bit in qualifying because I scratched the wall in a very important part, but the car was competitive, and we moved up as high as fifth. Hopefully in 2021 starting from front row-ish will be my ultimate target.”

2020 RACE REWIND FOR TAKUMA
Last year, Sato started 13th and passed Pagenaud on the start for 12th. He cycled up to fifth place before his first stop on Lap 33 and returned to the track in 13th place. He later lost a spot to Ericsson, who was on an alternate strategy. He pit from 12th for his second stop on Lap 66 and worked his way up to ninth by the time the fourth of six restarts happened on Lap 74. He had passed Harvey but the two made contact and put Sato in Andretti’s path and his wing cut Andretti’s tire. Second-place runner, Hinchcliffe, also had problems and Sato was running sixth when he was told to go to the back of the pack. He was in 15th place but two more caution periods, a drive thru penalties by a competitor and heavy sprinkles ensued before the checkered flag and he ultimately finished in 10th place. Takuma believe the team’s baseline street course set up should be competitive in St. Pete.
           “The team is trying to prepare every single race, but specifically for the street courses. Its sometimes difficult because you can’t have too many simulator days. I think, generally speaking, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing is strong in street courses.  We’ve done two days testing in Sebring so far which is basically replicating a street course.  Firestone brings the street course tires over there so we did a lot of suspension and damper work to help us get a good performance for the street course. In fact, last year due to the pandemic, St. Pete was held later in the season so it’s actually very close in terms of dates (to this race) so I think we can bring momentum there and I think we will be very strong.”

GRAHAM HANDICAPS THE FIELD AFTER THE SEASON OPENER
“From a series perspective this year I think they’ve done a great job adjusting to COVID and delaying things a little bit so obviously St. Pete didn’t start our season, which traditionally was supposed to this year, but Barber did. So now St. Pete being the second race of the year presents a little bit of a different challenge. Normally it’s the hardest race of the year because it’s the first from a physical standpoint of the drivers; you aren’t used to that, and it’s a really long one so typically it wears you out. From a series perspective, the depth of the field is tremendous right now.  You look from top to bottom. Obviously, (Alex) Palou won last weekend, (Romain) Grosjean did a great job, Scotty McLaughlin, both rookies did a great job. So, there’s a lot of guys who have come in that are extremely fast and I think when you look at the gap, and all the teams, it’s just that much closer. From a team perspective, for us really this year, there’s not a lot that’s new and that’s a positive. A couple of new sponsors, it’s great to have Hy-Vee come back in a very expanded role compared to last year where we just had them at Iowa. But as far as a team, we really haven’t had any turnover which is what we want, the sponsors are all really the same which is what we want, we like that continuity. We are excited about that, we are excited to get to St. Pete and hopefully, you know finishing seventh at Barber wasn’t too bad, but we’d like to do better this time around at St. Pete.”

GRAHAM AND TAKUMA ON THE POPULAR FIRESTONE GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETE
“St. Pete for me is definitely one of the best races we have all year from a perspective of what the top four races that INDYCAR might have every year,” said Rahal. “The Indy 500 is always going to be my Number 1 and Mid-Ohio for me, from a personal level is going to be Number 2. Long Beach is right there, and St. Pete is probably close thereafter. St. Pete has a long history now we’ve competed at a lot of races there. Having won there before personally, I know I take a lot of pride in that and having been on pole there before, I take a lot of pride in that too. But it’s been a while. We finished on a podium three years ago, but we’d like to get back on the podium there and hopefully the top step this weekend.”
           “I think St. Petersburg has a great atmosphere for the fans and also for us too,” added Sato. “The reason is that usually it’s the beginning of the season, so the season opener is usually really, really exciting. Plus, over the course of winter and preseason testing and then going to nice warm, summerish Florida weather usually is something that makes the atmosphere really nice. And it has a long history with INDYCAR and that is why I think the fans are really loyal and there are great restaurants and people are just so excited for St. Petersburg (race) so that’s why I think it’s always a great atmosphere. 

THE SECRET TO WINNING POLE ON A STREET COURSE
Half of Takuma’s 10 pole positions have come on a street course, including his pole in St. Pete in 2014. He enjoys the level of commitment needed to set the fastest lap in the tight confines.
           “To get on pole position on a street course, there is no hidden secret, to be honest. You have to manage everything to get on pole; traffic and also tire management, because usually Firestone brings a softer compound for the street course.  You really get just one shot technically. You run the out lap and then usually the first time by (the flag stand) in St. Pete is all you have, and in most of the cases its second time by in other street courses. But I think St. Pete is a usually the first timed lap so you get one chance, one shot and you have to manage the traffic and get it right.  And also, setup-wise, there are so many blinded, unsighted corners that are completely walled by concrete, so you need commitment and that’s why I usually enjoy driving a street course so that’s maybe a little secret.”

THE POINT STANDINGS
Graham Rahal is ranked seventh in NTT INDYCAR SERIES point standings with 26 and Takuma Sato is 13th with 17 points.  

Rahal and Sato Finished 7th and 13th Respectively in the Honda Indy GP of Alabama

Rahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama
Round 1 of 17 in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES
RACE NOTES/QUOTES – Sunday, April 18, 2021


RAHAL AND SATO FINISHED SEVENTH AND THIRTEENTH IN THE HONDA INDY GRAND PRIX OF ALABAMA

GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Code 3 Associates Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “End of Race 1 and I think it was a good day for us going 18th to seventh. We had good pace in the race which is really how we got there. The strategy was good but all of the top guys did it in two green flag stops which is what we did as well. For us I thought that the pace was very strong. The group we were in – Bourdais, Veekay and myself — had really good pace and that helps too because that really helped us push forward and close in on the lead group and really distance us from Grosjean and those guys behind us. I thought our guys did a great job on the Code 3 Associates car. We are proud of the organization and we are keeping our heads down, working hard and we’re off to St. Pete.”

  • FAST FACTS: Rahal started 18th, avoided a multi car crash started by Newgarden on the opening lap and had good pace to finish in seventh place…  His best start here is second place in 2019 to bring the team a 1-2 start… He played a major factor in the most exciting races of the 2015 and 2016 seasons as he challenged for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama win but earned his best finish here of second place both times… 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 / Shield Cleansers Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “First race of 2021 and we finished 13th. It’s a little bit of a pity after we fought so hard after the massive incident. We made a really good start and jumped up to P12 but then the massive incident dragging off a lot of yellows so actually the two stoppers made up significant positions and we went alternate (strategy) three stops. Good fight with Pagenaud, good fight with Scott (McLaughlin) all the way through the stint and there was lots of overtaking. It’s a bit of a shame; we wanted to be in the top-10 but we started from 19th and obviously we were lacking the pace for the weekend. Hopefully we will figure it out and then the next one is a street course and we should be better there. It was a tough race but good weekend.”

  • FAST FACTS: Sato started 19th and moved into 12th after he avoided a multi-car crash started by Newgarden at the start. He made passes on drivers such as Pagenaud, McLaughlin and others an ultimately finished 13th… His best start and finish here is first place in 2019 when he led 74/90 en route to victory.  Has SIX INDYCAR SERIES wins (2013 – Long Beach street course, 2017 – Indy 500 oval, 2018 – Portland road, 2019 – Barber road, St. Louis short oval, 2020 – Indianapolis 500) 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 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will take place next Sunday, April 25 and will be televised live on NBC beginning at 12 PM ET.

Rahal and Sato to Start the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama 18th and 19th Respectively

Rahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama
Round 1 of 17 in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES
QUALIFYING NOTES/QUOTES – Saturday, April 17, 2021


RAHAL AND SATO TO START THE HONDA INDY GRAND PRIX OF ALABAMA 18TH AND 19TH RESPECTIVELY

1)         Pato O’Ward              1:05.8479 / 125.744 mph       (Group 2, Round 3)
18)       Graham Rahal           1:06.8489 / 123.861 mph       (Group 2, Round 1)  
19)       Takuma Sato             1:07.1026 / 123.393 mph       (Group 1, Round 1)

GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Code 3 Associates Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “Qualifying is in the books here in Alabama for the first race of the year. I’m disappointed obviously for Code 3 Associates and all of our partners. It’s not the performance that we expect of ourselves and of our organization. Honestly. I’m baffled. I think everybody here is a little bit baffled. We had a great test here. Everybody is confused at the performance side of it but we’re going to put our heads down tonight and try to improve. We had a great test here. We were faster than the majority of these guys and we can’t seem to back it up on the weekend but hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.”

  • FAST FACTS: Rahal will make his 11th start here from 18th place… His best start here is second place in 2019 to bring the team a 1-2 start… He played a major factor in the most exciting races of the 2015 and 2016 seasons as he challenged for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama win but earned his best finish here of second place both times… 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 / Shield Cleansers Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “Qualifying for the first race is not what we wanted. We struggled a lot. Since 2019 the track changed in a good way, of course. It’s a lot faster. Its demanding in a different way and we lost the speed, relatively so my Panasonic / Shield Cleansers car was unfortunately P20 in qualifying but we will find some speed.  We will still have warmup before the race and hopefully we can find some speed and have a good result for the weekend..”

  • FAST FACTS: He will make his 11th start here from 19th place… His best start and finish here is first place in 2019 when he led 74/90 en route to victory.  Has SIX INDYCAR SERIES wins (2013 – Long Beach street course, 2017 – Indy 500 oval, 2018 – Portland road, 2019 – Barber road, St. Louis short oval, 2020 – Indianapolis 500) 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).

RLL AT BARBER: In 2019, the team qualified 1-2 for the 2019 race here, which was the first time the team locked out the front row of an Indy car race since the September 11, 2005 race at Chicagoland when Danica Patrick won pole and Buddy Rice started second. Sato led 74 of 90 laps en route to victory. The 2021 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will mark the ninth INDYCAR SERIES race for the team at Barber Motorsports Park (BMP).

NEXT UP:  Pre-race warmup will take place tomorrow from 10:30 – 11 a.m. CT.  The Honda Grand Prix of Alabama will be televised on NBC from 3:00-6:00 PM ET Sunday, April 18.

A Match Made in Indy Comes to Life in Birmingham; Rahal and Sato’s Sponsors Are Racing to Help People and Their Pets

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (April 16, 2021) — This weekend, IndyCar kicks off its 2021 season in Birmingham, where two Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing sponsors are racing to help animals in need. Graham Rahal’s weekend sponsor, Code 3 Associates, and Takuma Sato’s sponsor, Shield Cleansers, have discovered common ground in their efforts to protect animal health and welfare.

As first responders who recover animals in times of disaster, Code 3 Associates is on call as the threat of floods, hurricanes, and tornados are commonplace at this time of year. In fact, Code 3 has previously responded to disasters in the Birmingham area, which is no stranger to such devastation.

Shield Cleansers makes disinfectant and decontamination products with the active ingredient HOCl, which has a long and successful history in animal wellness, specifically in post-rescue situations. As animals are recovered and reunited with their owners, owners and their newly adopted rescues, can be satisfied they have been thoroughly cleaned of any hazards imposed from tragic events.

As Graham and Takuma race toward the checkered flag in the season opener, the real winners will be people and their pets. When disaster strikes animals, Code 3 and Shield will be there to answer the call.

More information can be found at code3associates.org and shieldcleansers.com.

The 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season begins with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (HIGPA), which will be broadcast live on NBC on April 18 at 3 p.m. EDT. RLL won the previous HIGPA race from pole with Takuma Sato in 2019 and Graham Rahal brought the team its first 1-2 start since 2004 there, challenged for the win but retired with mechanical failure. The pandemic led to the cancelation of the 2020 race. All future on-track action can be seen on NBC, NBCSN or NBC’s Peacock Premium streaming service. For more information about the series or team, visit www.indycar.com and www.rahal.com.

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