Filippi Was Seventh When a Last Lap Incident Dropped Him to 15th in the Shell and Pennzoil GP of Houston; Rahal Started Fourth But a Shifting Issue Limited Him to 16th Place

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston – NRG Park, Houston

Verizon IndyCar Series

RACE 2 NOTES/QUOTES – Sunday, June 29, 2014



GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 National Guard Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “It was a frustrating day, we had a great car. On the first stint I was just trying to stay consistent which we were able to do. I tried to stay patient behind Aleshin and got by him when he pitted because I cranked off a really fast lap on my in-lap. We were right there and I thought we were going to have a good day. All of a sudden we had an issue with the gearbox control until and it lost all pressure and the car wouldn’t shift. It was another bad luck day that we can’t get back. The car was good though and that gives us hope for what’s to come.”

  • FAST FACTS: Earned his best starting spot of fourth place for Race 2 since he started third at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012. He held fourth place in the race and was third when he made his first scheduled pit stop. He reported a shifting issue on the way in the pits and it got worse on his out lap so he had to pit for the team to change the faulty Gear Control Unit. He returned to the track three laps down in 20th and soldiered on to finish 16th. Qualified 14th for Race 1 yesterday. On the standing start he stalled the car and dropped to last (23rd) once restarted but fought back to fourth place by the end of the race and had attempted to pass second and third place before a caution period came out for Saavedra. Under caution prior to a restart with less than two minutes to go, he ran into the back of Kanaan when he checked up and then moved into third for the checkered flag but was assessed a post-race 30-second penalty for avoidable contact and was scored with a 11th place finish in Race 1… Will be his be his fourth Indy car race here and fifth overall… His first Indy car race here was Round 3 of the Champ Car World Series on April 22, 2007 and he became the youngest driver to earn a Champ Car podium with his second place finish at the age of 18 years, 3 months and 18 days. Rahal skipped his prom to compete in Houston and qualified sixth. His second place brought Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing a 1-2 finish with teammate Bourdais’ win from a second place start… Last year he set the 10th fastest time in Group 2 of qualifying on Saturday to earn a 19th place starting position but was assessed a 10-grid penalty for an unapproved engine change and started 24th. The team employed good pit strategy and he was able to move up to a seventh place finish… Qualifying for Race 2 in Houston was cancelled due to standing water on the course so the field was set by Entrant Points and Graham started the race 19th. He was hit on the opening lap by Simona de Silvestro who was penalized for “avoidable contact” and had to pit for a new nose which put him a lap down. Later he tagged the wall and had to pit for a new rear wing which dropped him another lap down and he ultimately finished 18th… He also competed in the 2006 Atlantic race here where he started third and was in second place when he collided with Raphael Matos while attempting to take the lead with three laps to go and finished 15th… His best finish this season is second place in Detroit Dual 1 and best start is ninth – also in Detroit Dual 1.

LUCA FILIPPI, No. 16 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “At the beginning we were struggling a little with the red tires. I was trying to find my pace with too much front grip and towards the end of the stint it was much better. We were able to stay out and push and came out of the pit stop in fifth because of our strong pace. After that we were running well in fifth but unfortunately there was a slow puncture so during a yellow we had to pit because we were losing pressure so in that moment our strategy changed. We didn’t know if we would make it to end with that second stop only or not so we pitted again. Maybe we could have finished the race without it but after that we were still fast but towards the end we were in traffic and faster than the guys in front. There was an accident in front and I hit Bourdais and I lost part of the front wing so I started to have a lot of understeer but still we were able to overtake people. Then (Will) Power had a problem and Montoya got by him. In the meantime, I don’t understand what happened, I braked in my normal place for that area and I hit him (Montoya). I don’t know if he had a problem with fuel or tires but something happened to him because I was very surprised by his braking zone and I couldn’t do anything but touch him. I went in the marbles and our race was over. We were top-seven and with all the issues we had it would have been a good result. We were fast. Obviously I’m not happy but I gained a lot of experience this weekend. It’s been a long time since I have raced and racing at a high level like this is not easy. To get the perfection you have to work on it and hopefully we will be there in Toronto. The weekend was surprising from a speed point of view; we were fast all the time. I made a few mistakes which I shouldn’t have but I was pushing very hard and this is what happens when you do that. Generally you have to be optimistic and happy. Next time I will be used to the team and we have a foundation to get a good result.”

  • FAST FACTS: Brushed the wall in qualifying for Race 2 and bent the right rear toe-link. Once the team replaced it, he was only able to complete one lap on red tires in the 15 minute session and was sixth fastest and started 12th. In the race he ran as high as fifth but had to pit due to a tire puncture. He was on target for a seventh place finish but contact with Montoya on the last lap dropped him to 15th. Earned a career-best Indy car qualifying position of fourth place for Race 1 and was in eighth place when he made contact with the inside wall of a turn on a restart while attempting to overtake Pagenaud and retired in 21st place in Race 1… He competed in the doubleheader races in Houston in 2013. He qualified eighth for Race 1 and finished 10th which is his best start and finishing positions to date of his four series races. Qualifying for Race 2 was cancelled due to standing water on the course so the field was set by Entrant Points and Luca started the race 23rd due to his lack of points in his partial season, set the fastest race lap (Lap 86/90) and finished 19th… It is his first IndyCar race since last year at Houston and first time in a race car since he competed in a GT car in Europe in December ’13.

NEXT UP: Round 11 of 18 in the Verizon IndyCar Series – The Pocono INDYCAR 500 will take place next weekend, July 5-6.

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