GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Fleet Cost & Care Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “It was a great run by the Fleet Cost & Care guys. We raced smart tonight and made moves when we had to. The guys did a hell of a job in the pits and made our lives easier. That first stop was phenomenal; we jumped a lot of guys. I’m proud of this organization. We’ve kept our heads down and finally I think we’ve been rewarded a little bit. Honda was great tonight and the fuel mileage was great. On that first stint, even with the parade and pace I think we went 63 laps or something which was awesome so hats off to Honda for giving us that. Our guys have worked awfully hard and I’m extremely proud of them.”
- FAST FACTS: Rahal started 9th and dropped to 12 by Lap 11 but managed to go the farthest on the first stint and cycle 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 his first podium finish of the season and third top-three finish at TMS.
- Was his 12th race here. In his 11 races, his best start came in 2012 of third and best finish is his win in 2016. In 2018, he started 20th and took the opportunity to pit during the first caution for a fire on Leist’s car on Lap 9 after running 19th. This enabled him to stretch his fuel and cycle into the lead on Lap 68 before he made his second stop on Lap 72 and returned to the track in 14th. He took over 13th when Veach made contact and then into 12th when Newgarden pit due to a tire going down. The field had been watching for tire wear, particularly on the right front and rear, and Rahal reported a vibration on lap 101/248. As the next pit cycle began, he moved up to second by Lap 127 before making his stop on L128. Her returned to the track in 13th place and moved up to eight when a caution came out for Wickens and Carpenter, who made contact on Lap 173. At this point, he was in seventh and a lap down but was waved around before he made his next pit stop on L183. When the race restarted, he held seventh place and another caution came out for Power and Claman De Melo who made contact as Claman De Melo was passing on the high side. He was in sixth and the team elected to pit for new tires when the pits opened. The race was restarted on Lap 215/248 and Rahal maintained his position until the checkered flag. His win in 2016 came in the postponed event.
- The June 11, 2016 race was postponed until June 12 due to rain which again postponed the race to August 27 after the field completed 71 of 248 scheduled laps before rain came again. Rahal had qualified 13th for the race and was in 12th when it was halted. On August 27, he restarted on Lap 72 and quickly moved to sixth place. He maintained a top-five position the majority of the time except after pitting and never was lower than eighth. He ran second many times and only led once – the final lap – and won by a margin of victory of 0.0080-of a second in what is the fifth-closest finish in Indy car history and the closest finish 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 moved from ninth to eighth place in series point standings with a total of 211 points.
TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 ABeam Consulting Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “I’m deeply sorry. The guys built a great car today and then I blew it. I overshot the pit and fortunately no one was seriously injured.”
- FAST FACTS: Earned his first pole at this track, third on an oval and ninth overall on Friday 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 which caused him to fall off the lead lap and into last place. He moved up from 22nd to 15th by the checkered flag.
- Crewman Chris Welch was checked and released from the infield care center.
- In his 10 previous races here, his best start was fourth place, two times (2016 with A.J. Foyt Racing; 2011 with KVRT) and he has earned three top-10 finishes with the best being fifth place in 2011 with KVRT. Last year he started ninth and ran mostly in the top-10 other than pit cycles. The field was monitoring tire wear, particularly on the right front and rear tires, and Sato had to make his second pit stop early for new tires which put him two laps down.
- Later in the race he received a wave around during the caution for Wickens and Carpenter and another for the caution for contact between Power and Claman De Melo to be on the lead lap with approx. 35 laps to go while ninth.
- After the restart, he passed Jones and then took over seventh when Newgarden served a drive through penalty for jumping the restart. He took the checkered flag in seventh place.
- Has FOUR IndyCar Series wins (2013 – Long Beach street course, 2017 – Indy 500 oval, 2018 – Portland road, 2019 – Barber road) and EIGHT 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 maintained his fifth place rank in series point standings with 272 points.
RLL AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY: The DXC Technology 600 marked the 17th event for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) at the 1.5-mile, high-banked Texas Motor Speedway oval. The team’s highest start of pole came in 2007 with Scott Sharp and 2019 with Sato and 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 10, top-10’s at the track.
NEXT UP: The series will take next weekend off before returning to action at Road America for the REV Group Grand Prix at Road America June 21-23.
TIL NEXT TIME I AM SRILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!