Rahal Contended For The Win, Then……

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Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
GMR Grand Prix – Indianapolis Motor Speedway
NTT INDYCAR SERIES
RACE NOTES/QUOTES – July 4, 2020


GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Fifth Third Bank Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “I thought the strategy was honestly working perfectly. Honestly, with the two-stop coming out of the pits after the first stop and still being right with Power and Harvey and all the good guys, the guys I was racing at that time, all I kept thinking was when the pits cycled through for the last time, we’d have about a 25- or 30-second lead, but obviously the yellow came out and kind of nullified our strategy because then everybody just got to pit under yellow and then there was just one more to go. But obviously, Dixie had tremendous pace during the late part of the race. I was on black tires struggling a little bit. The Fifth Third Bank car was great today. I thought our guys did a tremendous job. It’s a shame for Spencer; he was right up in the battle, as well. But for our team after Dallas, this feels extremely good for us.”

  • FAST FACTS: Rahal started the race from his best qualifying position here of fourth and passed Herta for third at the start of the race.  He moved into second when previous race leader Will Power made his first stop on Lap 17 of 80, apparently on a three-stop strategy and then into the lead when Jack Harvey pit on Lap 18. He led the next nine laps until he made his first stop on Lap 26 on a two-stop strategy and returned to the track in fourth place, running handily behind those on a three-stop strategy. A caution came out for rookie Askew who crashed, and changed the complexion of the race. Three-stoppers Power, Newgarden and Harvey pit under caution and Rahal cycled into the lead on Lap 39. Rahal was on primary Firestone’s and Dixon, who had made his second of three stops two laps before the caution, caught up to Rahal and passed him on Lap 48. Dixon ran hard and built a 7-second gap on Rahal before Rahal made his second stop on Lap 54 and Dixon made his third stop on Lap 55.  After the field made their stops, Rahal returned to second place on lap 63 and held it until the checkered flag.  He matched his best finish on the IMS road course of second in 2015 in his seventh race here. His highest finish here is second place (2015, 2020) and his previous highest start is seventh (2019) although he qualified third in 2016 but his car was disqualified for being underweight.  In seven events, he has six top-10 finishes of second (2015, 2020), fourth (2016), sixth (2017), seventh (2019) and ninth (2018). 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

TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 Panasonic / One Cure Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “First of all, huge congrats to my teammate Graham. He did a hell of a job over the event. I know he wanted to win but second was great. My race was a difficult one. Yesterday we found an issue with the powertrain and lost over two-tenths of a second down the straight which was huge in qualifying which put us in the back.  Today I had suspension failure around Lap 1 probably. That’s why I went straight to the back. Then the yellow came at the right time when we needed to pit so I needed a splash of fuel.  We had a difficult race but in the end we fought back from 26th place to finish tenth, which was good.  With a damaged car, I think it was a great job by the team.  Obviously, Graham did a great job so I think the whole team is moving forward and I’m looking forward to next week.”

  • FAST FACTS: Takuma started 17th for his seventh race here. After qualifying, the team found a powertrain issue that attributed to a loss of two-tenths of a second on the front straight. In the race, Sato immediately dropped to 24th while struggling from what was determined post-race as a suspension issue.  The team aborted a two-stop strategy and made their first stop on Lap 11 and Sato returned to the track in last place of 26th. He steadily picked off cars and was in eight place when he was on his in-lap for his second stop but Askew brought out a caution and closed the pits. He was forced to come in for two-seconds of fuel on Lap 36 before making a full stop when the pits opened on Lap 38. He ran in 16th place and had a mid-stint battle with Veach for a few laps before he passed him. On Lap 53 he started another charged and moved up from 16th into sixth place by Lap 56 before his final stop on Lap 57. He moved from 14th into 10th before the checkered flag after passing Harvey, Pigot, Veach and Daly… His best start is 11th in 2018 and 2019 with RLL and his best finish is ninth in 2017 with Andretti Autosport… 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). 
Spencer Pigot

SPENCER PIGOT, No. 45 Mi-Jack / Shield Cleansers Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “We had a really good race going today; it was a lot of fun. Early on we passed quite a few cars are were up inside the top-10 within not too many laps. We had a really good handling car and we were making moves and elected for a two-stop strategy so we were saving fuel the whole time and still keeping a good pace throughout the race. We just kept going forward and came out of the pits after the last stop in third, right behind Graham, who was on the podium so it was looking like we could have had two Rahal Letterman Lanigan cars on the podium but unfortunately we had an issue.  It just wasn’t meant to be today but overall I can’t thank everyone on the 45 car enough and the whole team really.  It was a great debut for RLL and Citrone/Buhl Autosport, Shield Cleansers, Mi-Jack, Embrace Pittsburgh. I thank everyone for their support. We’ll try again in August at the Indy 500.”

  • FAST FACTS: Pigot drove one of his best Indy car races to date after starting 16th and into the lead on Lap 55 but a likely podium finish evaporated after a mechanical failure led to his retirement after 74 of 80 laps.  He gained two spots on the start from Rosenqvist and O’Ward then passed Ericsson, Ferrucci and Rossi by Lap 5. Once those on a three-stop strategy began their stops, he cycled up from 11th into second by Lap 22. He held second place to teammate Rahal for four laps before he made his first stop on Lap 26. He had cycled back into sixth place by the time a caution came out on Laps 36-39 for Askew, who crashed. As three-stoppers elected to pit under caution, he moved up to run second to Rahal on Lap 39 for six laps before Dixon passed him on Lap 45.  He moved into second when Rahal pit on Lap 54 and into the lead when Dixon pit on Lap 55. He made his final stop on Lap 56 and on Lap 58, while running fifth, he radio’d the team about a problem. Soon thereafter he began losing positions and dropped all the way to 22nd place before he was called to the pits and retired in 24th place… It was his fifth race on the IMS road course.  His best start is 9th in 2018 and his best finish is fifth in 2019 – both with Ed Carpenter Racing.

RLL AT THE IMS ROAD COURSE…. The GMR Grand Prix marked the seventh NTT INDYCAR SERIES race on the 2.439-mile road course.  The team matched their best finish here of second place in 2015 – also by Rahal and best start is fourthin 2020, also by Rahal.

NEXT UP:  Rounds 3 and 4 of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES will take place next weekend at the REV Grand Prix of Road America on July 11-12.  Saturday’s race will be broadcast on NBCSN beginning at 5 PM ET and Sunday’s race will be broadcast on NBC and begins at 12 noon ET.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

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