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Q&A With Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s INDYCAR Technical Director Tom German

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 and Sato Return to a Favorite Venue for the 2020 INDYCAR Season Opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

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 Indianapolis 500 for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing with Citrone/Buhl Autosport

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.
 

Spencer Pigot will contest the Indianapolis 500 with Citrone/Buhl Autosport in conjunction with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

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Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Announces Key Additions to Sales Team

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!”

For more details about the team, please visit www.rahal.com and for details about the series we compete in visit www.indycar or www.imsa.com.

Keihin Extends Relationship with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Returns as a Full Season Associate Sponsor in 2020

KEIHIN EXTENDS RELATIONSHIP WITH RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AND RETURNS AS A FULL-SEASON ASSOCIATE SPONSOR IN 2020
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (January 13, 2020) – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) announced today that Keihin North America, a leading manufacturer of precision technology parts for both the automotive and powersports industry, continues as a full-season associate sponsor for the team’s 2020 NTT IndyCar Series entries for Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato.  The relationship began in 2017 when Keihin was an associate sponsor of Rahal’s entry in the Indianapolis 500 and grew into a full season sponsorship in 2018 on both team entries for Rahal and 2017 Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato.

“Keihin has been an enthusiastic partner since the beginning of our relationship and we couldn’t be happier to have them continue their program.” said Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing with David Letterman and businessman Mike Lanigan.  “We have been able to build an incredible foundation of partnerships with blue chip companies over the years and Keihin is no exception. As a Honda dealer, this partnership also brings me great satisfaction as I have always been impressed with the quality of their advanced componentry.”

“Keihin North America is thrilled to extend our existing partnership with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing into the 2020 season,” added Edward Flanagan, Assistant Vice President and General Manager of Keihin North America. “The value of the branding strategy we have implemented these past few years with RLL has not only allowed us to increase interest in Keihin’s capabilities within automotive part manufacturing in North America, but we have also experienced an increase in our associates’ pride for the company, and a passion to root for such a legendary team.  Global Keihin takes great pride in this relationship.”

The 17-race 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season begins March 15 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.  All races will be televised live on NBC or NBC Sports. For more details about the Series, please visit www.indycar.com.

NEW VENUE SET FOR 2020 GRAHAM & COURTNEY RAHAL FOUNDATION ANNUAL DRIVERS TOURNAMENT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — December 13, 2019
Indianapolis, IN – Motorsports power couple Graham Rahal and Courtney Force will once again host their annual Drivers Tournament powered by United Rentals. Benefitting the charitable partners of the Graham & Courtney Rahal Foundation, it is a uniquely styled golf outing filled with one-of-a-kind auction items, special guests, and interactive vendors throughout the course. The event will now take place less than five miles away from the hallowed grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at the Country Club of Indianapolis on Thursday, May 21, just three days before the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500.

“Courtney and I are honored to host the Drivers Tournament again this year with the help of our gracious sponsors, including United Rentals,” said Graham Rahal. “Everyone who gets involved with this is directly impacting our two very worthy causes, SoldierStrong and CSU’s One Cure.”

The event is presented by United Rentals, the largest equipment rental company in the world. Funds raised through the tournament will be directed to two non-profit organizations: Turns for Troops / SoldierStrong USA and Colorado State University’s One Cure.

“United Rentals has been proud to partner with the Graham & Courtney Rahal Foundation on their Drivers Tournament, benefitting Turns for Troops and One Cure,” said United Rentals Chief Marketing Officer Chris Hummel. “This annual event has become a highlight of our ‘Month of May’ service activities leading up to the Indianapolis 500 and has generated significant support for important veteran programs and cancer research. We are excited to return as the title sponsor of the tournament in 2020 and hope to see the event – and its impact – continue to grow.”

Turns for Troops was founded by United Rentals, a longtime supporter of veterans’ causes, in partnership with Rahal and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL). The initiative supports SoldierStrong, a program that helps fund education, rehabilitation and life-changing technologies for military veterans with combat-related injuries. One Cure, an initiative by the Flint Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University, joined Rahal and RLL as a partner in 2018 to raise awareness and funds to support its program, which strives to find a cure for cancer in both dogs and people through comparative oncology.

“One Cure is making strides against cancer in both pets and people thanks to supporters like the Graham and Courtney Rahal Foundation,” said One Cure’s Program Lead Dr. Christine Hardy. “The support from the last two years of the GCRF Drivers Tournament allowed us to move a novel treatment that showed great results in pet dogs with advanced bone cancer to children with the same disease at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Support from this year’s tournament will fund more critical research so we can continue to race for One Cure for pets and people.”

The 2019 sold-out event raised a record amount of $310,000. The 2020 Drivers Tournament has gained the support of companies and individuals, both within IndyCar and throughout the community. To participate in the Drivers Tournament, provide other support, or donate please contact Brooke Shuman.

STATEMENT FROM BOBBY RAHAL ON THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT THE INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, NTT INDYCAR SERIES AND IMS PRODUCTIONS IS BEING ACQUIRED BY PENSKE ENTERTAINMENT CORP. 

Bobby Rahal:

“Roger Penske’s commitment to the sport we love is over six decades long and I am confident that his stewardship of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the IndyCar Series will ensure a great future for the sport. His many successful business ventures underline the fact that he is the perfect custodian of one of the most historic venues in the world and is the perfect architect to build the foundation for the next 100-plus years of the sport. We look forward to working with Roger in order to make the IndyCar Series and the Indy 500 the best it’s ever been.”

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CANON SOLUTIONS AMERICA TO BECOME OFFICIAL TEAM SUPPLIER FOR RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING’S INDYCAR SERIES PROGRAM

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (October 14, 2019) – Rahal Letterman Lanigan (RLL) Racing announced today that Canon Solutions America, Inc. has become an Official Team Supplier for Printing and Productivity Solutions for the NTT IndyCar Series program. As part of the multi-year agreement, Canon Solutions America will outfit the team’s offices, race shop and transporters with a line of office…

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Rahal Finished 12th in the Firestone Grand Prix and 10th in Series Standings; Sato Dropped to a Ninth Place Rank After Being Hit and Finishing 21st

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey – WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca
NTT IndyCar Series
RACE NOTES/QUOTES – September 22, 2019

RAHAL FINISHED 12TH IN THE FIRESTONE GRAND PRIX OF MONTEREY AND 10TH IN SERIES STANDINGS; SATO DROPPED THREE PLACES TO END THE SEASON RANKED NINTH AFTER HE WAS HIT IN THE RACE AND FINISHED 21ST

GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 United Rentals Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “Today was a tough day. I thought at times that we had decent pace and at other times we really struggled with the rear of the car. We’re just missing a little something. We’ve been close this year but not quite there. I’m proud of our mechanics and all of the guys for keeping their heads down and continuing to work hard. It wasn’t the easiest of years but everyone stayed positive and fought until the end. We’re thankful for all of our partners and looking forward to 2020.”

  • FAST FACTS: Rahal started eighth and lost two positions on the start to Hunter-Reay and Ferrucci. He dropped to 11th on Lap 5 when Rosenqvist passed him. He cycled as high as fifth place before his second pit stop on Lap 39 but ran 10th for the majority of his next stint before his third and final stop. He came out 11th and later lost a position to Hunter-Reay on Lap 68 of 90 and ultimately took the checkered flag 12th… His highest start of the season is second at Barber and his highest finish is third at Texas Motor Speedway… 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 dropped from 9th to 10th in series point standings with a total of 389 points.

TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 ABeam Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “I think the season was great. It was a little bit up and down of course but we achieved a couple of pole positions, a couple of podiums and two wins and I think it was a great season. I can’t thank everyone enough for their support. We had some difficult circumstances but the team was fully behind me and I was able to push all the way through the season.  In the race, we had some issues and a mechanical failure in the end. It is a shame that we couldn’t finish high and try to get fifth in the championship. In the end we dropped significantly in the standings. The No. 30 car ran beautifully this season with Graham and I pushing each other all season.  We will come back even stronger next season and I’m really looking forward to that. Thank you to everyone for their support.”

  • FAST FACTS: Started the race 16th and was one of three drivers to elect to start on primary tires. He gained a position on the start but later dropped two positions on the end of the opening lap. He was the second driver to make a stop when he pitted on Lap 10 of 90 to replace the primary tires. After dropping to the back, he moved up to run right behind Rahal in 12th by Lap 30. He cycled up to 10th before his second stop on Lap 36 and was in 11th place when a caution came out for contact between Daly and Andretti on Lap 45. After the restart, Ferrucci hit Sato in Turn 2 and dropped him to 21st place. Based on the positions that drivers were running in, he was still on target to finish the season sixth in points. He moved up to 19th but later pit to check for damage to the race car from the previous incident that impacted the steering. He continued to race in an attempt to salvage points and took the checkered flag in 21st place but lost three positions in the series standings due to the double points race… Was his first race hereHighest start of the season is pole at Barber (road) and Texas (oval) and his highest finish is his win at Barber and St. Louis… 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)…  He dropped from sixth to 9th in series point standings with a total of 415 points.
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RAHAL AND SATO TO START EIGHTH AND 16TH IN THE FIRESTONE GRAND PRIX OF MONTEREY INDYCAR SEASON FINALE

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey – WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca NTT IndyCar Series QUALIFYING NOTES/QUOTES – September 21, 2019 1)         Colton Herta              1:10.1405 / 114.867 mph      (Group 2; Round 3) 8)         Graham Rahal           1:10.6296 / 114.071 mph       (Group 2; Round 2) 16)       Takuma…

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