RLL Racing Honda Indy 200 MId-Ohio Notes

Graham Rahal

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Pre-Race Notes
Honda Indy 200 – Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
Round 13 of 17 in the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series

DATE: July 26-28, 2019

PRACTICE BROADCASTS: Live on INDYCAR Pass, the direct-to-consumer streaming product from NBC Sports Gold, on Friday from 11:20-12:05 p.m. and 3:15-4:00 p.m. And Saturday from 10:30-11:15 a.m. All times Eastern. Also live on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network (AAPIRN) and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis).

QUALIFYING BROADCAST: Live on NBCSN and INDYCAR Pass beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 27. Also live on the AAPIRN and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis).

RACE BROADCAST: Live Sunday, July 28 beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC, INDYCAR Pass and the
AAPIRN. Coverage will also air on Sirius 113 and XM 209.

TRACK LAYOUT: 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course
RACE LENGTH: 90 laps / 203 miles

2018 WINNER: Alexander Rossi
2018 POLESITTER: Alexander Rossi (1:04.6802; 125.677 mph)

RAHAL’S BEST MID-OHIO START / FINISH: 4th in 2009 (NHLR) and 2017 (RLL) / 1st in 2015 with RLL; will be his 12th Indy car race here

RAHAL’S HIGHEST SERIES START / FINISH: 3 Poles – St. Pete (street) 2009, Kansas (oval) 2009, Detroit (street) 2017 / 6 Wins – St. Pete 2008, Fontana (oval; 500 miles) 2015, Mid-Ohio (road) 2015, Texas (oval) 2016; Detroit Race 1 2017, Detroit Race 2 2017

SATO’S BEST MID-OHIO START / FINISH: 3rd in 2010 (KVRT) & 2017 (AA) / 4th in 2011 (KVRT); will be his 10th race here

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 / 4 Wins – Long Beach (2013), Indianapolis 500 (2017), Portland (road) 2018, Barber 2019

RLL’S BEST START / FINISH AT MID-OHIO: Pole 1997 (Herta) / 1st 2015 (G. Rahal)



The 2019 Honda Indy 200 will mark the 22nd Indy car event for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) at Mid-Ohio Sports Car course, near the team’s Hilliard, Ohio shop. The team also competed in the Atlantic Series race in 2003 with Danica Patrick and has competed in ALMS races here in 2007 and from 2009-2012. The team has earned four podiums (1st – G. Rahal 2015; 3rd – B. Rahal 1997, 1998, G. Rahal 2017), 13 top-five’s and 18 top-10 finishes at the track and the highest start is pole (Herta 1997). Another front row start came in 1999 (Herta; 2nd). Prior to the 2019 event, the team prepared a total of 32 Indy car entries for drivers Bobby Rahal (1992-98), Mike Groff (1994), Raul Boesel (1995), Bryan Herta (1996-99), Max Papis (1999-2001), Jimmy Vasser (2002), Michel Jourdain Jr. (2002-03) Ryan Hunter-Reay (2007-2008), Takuma Sato (2012, 2018), James Jakes (2013) and Graham Rahal (2013-2018). The No. 15 Fifth Third Bank entry for Graham Rahal and No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic entry for Takuma Sato will bring the Indy car total to 34 entries in 2019.


The 2019 Honda Indy 200 will mark Rahal’s 12th Indy car race here. His best start is fourth in 2009 and 2017 and his best finish is his win here in 2015. He has finished in the top-five, four times in his past five races. In total, he has one win (2015), two podiums (2017), four top-five and six top-10 finishes in his 11 races here. He has also competed in many other series at his “home track.” In 2018, Rahal set the third fastest time in practice on Friday and set the fastest time in the pre-qualifying practice session on Saturday but was caught out by a red flag in qualifying. Rahal had progressed to Round 2 and had made his first run on primary tires. He pitted for the faster, alternate tires and was completing his out lap and getting heat in them to put down a fast lap on the next one but Hinchcliffe crashed and brought out the red flag and the session ended while the crash was being cleaned up so many fast drivers were unable to make their attempts and he had to settle for a seventh place start. In the race, he had to take evasive action and drive off course on the opening lap to avoid contact and lost two positions to run ninth. He gained two places on Lap 2 when Sato spun after contact with Chilton, and then when Chilton was penalized for avoidable contact. He was sixth when he made his first stop on Lap 15, seventh when he made his second stop on Lap 39 and ninth when he made his third stop on Lap 65. He maintained the position to take the checkered flag in ninth place. Year-by-year recaps are available upon request. In addition to Indy car races here, at the age of 16 in 2005, Rahal became the youngest to claim the SCCA National Formula Atlantic championship at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs here by a dominant 43-seconds. He also competed in the Star Mazda race here in 2005 (S/F 4/9) and tested a Grand Am car here in 2007. He is hoping to not only continue his string of top-five finishes here but also earn another win at home.

“Mid-Ohio has always been extremely special for me, it’s my hometown race! There is great fan support which is probably the best part of it for me. I grew up going there and it is really one of the races that made me fall in love with Indy car racing. I have been very fortunate to win it in 2015, which is probably my best memory ever in racing. I hope this year with Fifth Third Bank on the car — another Ohio company — that we can get it done again. I remember everything about going the Mid-Ohio as a kid. I started to go there when I was little. I caused a lot of trouble around that race track and I even had to miss the race one year because I got in trouble. It’s just a great place. Saying ‘Daddy and gentlemen start your engines’ with my siblings was a cool moment and he finished on the podium in his last home race which was cool (started 16th and finished 3rd). I hope we can go back and have some more success of our own. We’ve had some great runs over the last handful of years and hopefully we can this year as well.”

Takuma Sato


The Honda 200 will mark Takuma’s 10th race here. In his nine previous races, his best start is third – in 2010 with KVRT and in 2017 with Andretti Autosport. He has two, top-five finishes and three top-10’s. In 2011 he finished fourth with KVRT and he finished fifth in 2017 after starting third. Last year in qualifying, like Rahal, he was on his second run and had recently gone to the faster alternate tires but the session was red-flagged by Hinchcliffe before he was able to bank a faster lap. Time ran out while the track was being cleared of Hinchcliffe’s crashed car. In the race, he started eighth and passed Rahal and Max Chilton on the opening lap to run sixth. On the second lap, he was hit by Chilton and spun. He dropped to 21st and gained a spot when Chilton was assessed a drive through penalty for avoidable contact. He ultimately soldiered on to finish 17th. Earlier this year, he won Round 3 on the Barber Motorsports Park road course from pole but struggled on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He qualified in the top-six at Road America but was driven off course early in the race by Hinchcliffe and was only able to recover enough for a 10th place finish. He feels the team has a good baseline road course setup and hopes to replicate the success from Barber at Mid-Ohio.

“In 2019, we have had good speed on road courses in general. We haven’t tested at Mid-Ohio physically but we are confident that we can bring a very competitive car. We have done a lot of studies as well as have spent time on the simulator and that has produced some good results for all other road courses so hopefully the car we will bring to Mid-Ohio will be very competitive. Graham and I will certainly be very motivated and give 100 percent. Mid-Ohio is a thrilling event. It’s a great track and a Honda venue so having it as a home race for our team is extra motivation. Don’t get me wrong, we always give 100 percent wherever we go but this event has something extra for our team. You get to see more of the Rahal family and get more people cheering for us which is always a good feeling. We always seem to have good speed at Mid-Ohio and I’m looking forward to it.”


Rahal has also run strong at most road courses this season. He completed the team’s first 1-2 start since 2005 at Barber when he qualified second but he had a throttle position sensor issue in the race and later retired with an electrical problem after he stopped on course. He hoped to pick up where he left off at the IMS road course race but was only able to leave there with a ninth place finish after starting seventh. He qualified fifth at Road America and finished fourth and hopes to build upon that at Mid-Ohio.

“Road course racing has been up and down for our team this year. Barber and Road America were very good but there have been other tracks that we did struggle at but I have a lot of confidence about Mid-Ohio. The home track always gives you that little bit extra that you don’t know you have. We’ve done well there before and I feel like we’re going to have a good weekend.”


After recent competitive outings didn’t net good finishes due to a variety of situations after starting from pole at Texas, running sixth at Elkhart Lake, fifth at Toronto and after pitting from third at Iowa didn’t bring Takuma Sato or the team the result they appeared capable of, the team is looking to turn that around at Mid-Ohio and the positive, home track environment can only help.

“Sometimes before the Mid-Ohio race, we visit the Honda plant or see the employees at the track and it is always nice. On race weekend, Mid-Ohio will be packed with very enthusiastic and knowledgeable fans. Particularly for road racing. I don’t know the percentage, but we see a lot of employees from Honda and a lot from the Japanese community as well. They come with their family and there are a lot of small kids. It’s a great family environment. They are very happy to be there and are waving Honda flags and cheering us on. It’s always nice to see them.”


With five races yet to be run — and six races worth of points available — this season, Sato is ranked sixth in series point standings with a total of 311 and Rahal is eighth with 290. Leader Josef Newgarden has 487, second place Alexander Rossi has 458, third place Simon Pagenaud has 429, fourth place Scott Dixon has 389 and fifth place Will Power has 322.


Helio Castroneves will be honored at the 8th Annual Safelite AutoGlass “Rally for The Ranch,” a three-event extravaganza to be held July 25 and July 27-28. The event is supported by The Bobby Rahal Foundation and benefits The Buckeye Ranch and its programs that help area youths and their families dealing with mental, behavioral and substance abuse issues. Previous honorees include Johnny Rutherford (2012), Al Unser, Jr. (2013), Rick Mears (2014), Bobby Unser (2015), Dario Franchitti (2016), Tony Kanaan (2017) and Danica Patrick (2018).


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