Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
NTT IndyCar Series
RACE NOTES/QUOTES – July 28, 2019
GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Fifth Third Bank Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “On the start, there was contact ahead and then the seas parted so we got a few spots then. Our strategy was right I think but we just couldn’t hang on to the tires and got caught out in lapped traffic there in the end. The car didn’t feel great which was frustrating. It wasn’t the result we wanted of course but it was a top-10 finish and we’ll take it. We creeped to within 10 points of Takuma but lost a little ground to Hunter-Reay but we’ll be back on them in a couple of weeks’ time in Pocono ad hopefully have a good race. The crowd was phenomenal here, absolutely phenomenal. There’s nothing like being at home. We had a pretty ugly weekend on the track but the fans made my weekend and I want to thank them.
- FAST FACTS: Rahal started 15th and was up to 12th by the end of the opening lap as cars jockeyed for position ad some were damaged. Jones and Andretti passed him on the following laps and he was 14th when he made his first stop, pitting early for a three-stop strategy. As others made stops, he moved up to 11th by Lap 20. He moved up to fifth by Lap 30 as the two-stop-strategy drivers made their first stops. Eventual second place finisher Rosenqvist, who was on newer alternate tires, passed him for position. He made his second stop on Lap 34 from sixth place. As others pit, he moved up to 11th by Lap 39. He was running ninth when he made his third and final stop on Lap 63 of 90. As the field settled in, he ran in 10th place and tried to maintain his position as his tires wore. He was able to hang on and navigate lapped traffic and gained a position on the final lap when fourth place runner Newgarden spun off track.
- The 2019 Honda Indy 200 marked 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 from a 13th place start. He has finished in the top-five, four times in his past five races here. 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.” At the age of 16 in 2005, he 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.
- 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… Rahal maintained his eighth place rank in series point standings with a total of 312 but closed on seventh place Sato who has 322.
TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Dallara/Honda/Firestone:
“The start was a difficult situation to predict. There was an accordian effect with cars and when I saw it, I had a good, clear gap in front of me. Looking at the replay, Hinch had to slow down because he ran wide and it looks like Marcus just cut inside and that angle was difficult for me to avoid and unfortunately we touched together which gave me a left front puncture. And then I got wide for the very next corner and picked stones up in the next corner and then we came back to the pit to change the tire. And our pace was actually faster than the leader so that was very encouraging but unfortunately the fuel rig was damaged by stones so every time we tried to fuel, we only got about 90 percent of the fuel. We tried to make it a two-stop race but obviously the fuel wasn’t full each time so we couldn’t make it. We were hoping for a yellow but we had to make a late stop for a slash of fuel. It was a tough race.”
- FAST FACTS: Started 17th and gained some positions on the opening lap but in Turn 4 received a left front puncture when he raced by Ericcson, who was in the middle as his teammate Hinchcliffe had slowed ad was on the outside edge of the track and they went three-wide. Sato continued after slight contact but on the following corner he drove off track and kicked up stones which damaged the fueling buckeye although the team was not aware yet. Once Sato pit to replace the punctured tire, the fueler had to insert the fuel hose a second time after removing stones from the area. Sato went a lap down when he returned to the track in 21st place and each of the following pit stops, the team was only able to fuel approx. 90 percent of the maximum which necessitated an extra stop for a splash of fuel with three laps to go. He was running in 20th on Lap 67 when the team told him to push and use more fuel than planned and hopefully a caution would come out so they could make it to the end but one did not come out before he pit from 16th place on Lap 87 of 90 ad ultimately finished 19th… Was his 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 year after starting third… His highest start of the season is pole at Barber (road) and Texas (oval) and his highest finish is his win at Barber … Has FOUR IndyCar Series wins (2013 – Long Beach street course, 2017 – Indy 500 oval, 2018 – Portland road, 2019 – Barber road) 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). Dropped from sixth to a seventh place rank after Hunter-Reay jumped ahead with this third place finish. Sato has a total of 322 points.
NEXT UP: The series will take the next two weekend’s off before returning to action at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, August 18.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!