RLLR Preps For The ’24 Long Beach Grand Prix

Graham Rahal,Pietro Fittipaldi,Christian Lundgaard  - 2024-04-17T085547.236

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Pre-Race Notes
Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach – Streets of Long Beach, California
Round 3 of 17 in the 2024 NTT INDYCAR SERIES

DATE: Friday – Sunday, April 19-21, 2024

PRACTICE BROADCAST: Streamed live on NBC’s Peacock on Friday from 5:50 – 7:05 p.m. ET, Saturday from 11:25 – 12:25 p.m. ET and Sunday from 12:00 – 12:30 p.m. ET. Also live on the INDYCAR Radio Network (IRN) and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis).

QUALIFYING BROADCAST: Live on Peacock, the IRN and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis) from 2:25 – 3:55 p.m. ET Saturday.

RACE BROADCAST: Live on USA Network on Sunday, April 21 from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. ET. And also on Peacock, IRN and Sirius XM 160 and Sirius XM INDYCAR Nation 218 and SiriusXM NBC Sports Audio 85 and the INDYCAR App.

TRACK LAYOUT: 1.968-mile, 11-turn street course
RACE LENGTH: 85 laps / 167.28 miles
2023 WINNER: Kyle Kirkwood
2023 POLESITTER: Kyle Kirkwood (106.879 mph)

RLL’S BEST START / FINISH AT LONG BEACH: 3 poles (Herta 1998, Vasser 2002, Jourdain, Jr. 2003) / 2nd – four times (B. Rahal 1992-1993, Vasser 2002, G. Rahal 2013)

RAHAL’S BEST START / FINISH AT LONG BEACH: 5th in 2007 / 2nd in 2013; will be his 17th Indy car race here and 18th overall
RAHAL’S BEST SERIES START / FINISH: 5 Poles – St. Pete (street) 2009, Kansas (oval) 2009, Detroit (street) 2017, IMS (road) 2023, Portland (road) 2023 / 6 Wins – St. Pete 2008, Fontana (oval; 500 miles) 2015, Mid-Ohio (road) 2015, Texas (oval) 2016; Detroit Race 1 (street) 2017, Detroit Race 2 2017

FITTIPALDI’S BEST START / FINISH IN LONG BEACH: Will be his first start here and 12th series start overall
FITTIPALDI’S BEST SERIES START / FINISH: 10th at Phoenix (2018) / 9th at Portland (2018) – 11 series starts to date

LUNDGAARD’S BEST START / FINISH IN LONG BEACH: 17th / 14th – both in 2023; will be his third race here
LUNDGAARD’S BEST SERIES START / FINISH: 2 Poles – IMS (road) May 2023, Toronto (street) 2023 / 1 Win – Toronto 2023

NEWS & NOTES:

24TH INDY CAR RACE IN LONG BEACH

The 2024 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach (AGPLB) marks the 24th time for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) to compete in the event. Although the team didn’t compete in Indy car races here from 2004-2011 while they fielded a fulltime entry in the Indy Racing League (2004-2008), they did compete in the 2003 and 2004 Atlantic races with Danica Patrick and in the 2007 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race. From 2009-2019, the team competed on the streets of Long Beach in the GTLM class of the ALMS/IMSA with BMW Team RLL and has finished on the podium each year but 2016-2019 although they started from pole in 2016 and led all three of those races. The venue is still the most successful for the team on the current IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule with wins in 2011, 2013 and 2015, nine podium finishes and five poles in 12 years. BMW M Team RLL has a two-car entry in IMSA’s GTP class.

In RLL’s 23 previous Indy car races in Long Beach, the team entered 40 cars for drivers such as Bobby Rahal (1992-1998), Mike Groff (1994), Raul Boesel (1995), Bryan Herta (1996-1999), Max Papis (1999-2001), Kenny Brack (2000-2001), Jimmy Vasser (2002), Michel Jourdain (2002-2003), Takuma Sato (2012, 2018-19, 2021), Graham Rahal (2013-2019, 2021-23), James Jakes (2013), Mike Conway (2013), Oriol Servia (2014), Oliver Askew (2021) and Christian Lundgaard (2022-23. In total, the team won three poles (Herta 1998, Vasser 2002, Jourdain, Jr. 2003); made five front row starts including an all-Team Rahal front row in 1998 (2nd – Rahal 1998, Brack 2001); earned their best finish of second place four times (Rahal 1992-1993, Vasser 2002, G. Rahal 2013) and earned six podiums (2nd – Rahal 1992-1993, Vasser 2002 & G. Rahal 2013; 3rd – Herta 1998-1999). The team has entered the No. 15 Fleet Cost & Care Honda for Graham Rahal, the No. 30 Mi-Jack Honda for Pietro Fittipaldi and the No 45 Hy-Vee Honda for Christian Lundgaard in this year’s race.

GRAHAM AND LONG BEACH

The 2024 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach will be Graham’s 17th Champ/Indy car race here and 18th overall. His best IndyCar start here is fifth in 2007 and best finish is second place in 2013. In 2023, he started 24th and finished 12th and in 2022, he started 13th and finished seventh. He ran as high as second place two times in 2021 and led four laps by utilizing an alternate strategy after starting 19th but the timing of a caution for contact between teammate Askew and Daly while he was on his in-lap for his final pit stop dropped him to 20th. He came back to finish 16th. He is looking forward to what he considers his second home race.

“I’m really excited to be going back to Long Beach. It’s a great race with tons of history and we look forward to adding to that into the foreseeable future thanks to Gerry (Forsythe, event owner). It’s a jewel in the crown of INDYCAR races, and I’m very excited to be back. Last year was a solid race but we must improve our cars and improve on qualifying this year to help ourselves come race day. I have a lot of great memories there, but never a win. I’m hoping to break the Rahal curse there and get the job done with Fleet Cost & Care this weekend!”

PIETRO FITTIPALDI MAKES HIS LONG BEACH DEBUT

Fittipaldi earned the “Biggest Mover of the Race” award for gaining 11 spots in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete. In Round 2 at Thermal, he qualified sixth for his Heat Race (2) and took over fifth early on and finished there to progress to an eighth place start in the All Star race. A pre-race fueling issue limited his ability to show his potential and he was ultimately forced to retire in 12th place. He’s looking forward to continuing the competitive pace in his first race in Long Beach.

“The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach is an iconic race. For sure everyone wants to win the Indy 500 but everyone also wants to win the Long Beach Grand Prix. Everyone looks forward to going to California, it’s right on the beach and beautiful. I’ve never been personally so I’m just excited to see how the track is, walk around the city and experience everything I’ve heard about. We were competitive in Thermal and I’m looking forward to continuing the progress in Long Beach and continue to take it day by day.”

CHRISTIAN AT LONG BEACH

Christian Lundgaard will make his third start in the AGPLB. In 2023, he started 17th, had an issue with water hitting the fuel probe on his first stop after he pit from 15th which led to the car stalling and him losing at least five spots (21st) when he returned to the track. Ultimately, he finished 14th. In 2022, his finishing position was limited last year after running out of fuel entering the pits for his first stop, which put him two laps down and he ultimately finished 18th. After the team has shown improvements on road and street courses this season, he is looking forward to the opportunity to show that one track at Long Beach.

“I think we learned a lot of positive things in St. Pete that can be applied for Long Beach. I think we were extremely competitive at the $1 Million Challenge at Thermal. Unfortunately, we were involved in an incident in the first race which caused massive damage on the car which ruined the race day for us but there were a lot of positives within the team. Our performance is for sure going the right way. We made a few silly mistakes that I believe are easily fixed so when we start nailing those, we will be in a much more competitive spot. I think we have every tool to win. Basically, every race at the moment, we’re super competitive. There was promise at the open test as well even though we didn’t get to run much because of some issues but, I think there is a lot to be optimistic about. At the same time, I want to manage my expectations and build toward the future and apply our tools step-by-step and make sure we progress and excel forward. We’re going to Long Beach optimistic of putting the Hy-Vee car up front.”

POINT STANDINGS AFTER 2 OF 17 RACES

After one points-paying race this season (Thermal was non points), Fittipaldi is ranked 15th in series point standings with a total of 15, Rahal is 14th with 14 and Lundgaard is 20th with 11.

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

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