Sato and RLL Racing Hope to Carry Momentum of Strong Indy 500 Run to Second Oval Race of the Season — The Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing – 21st Season
Pre-Race Notes
Fire­stone 550 – Texas Motor Speedway
Round 7 of 16 in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series

 

DATE:                                        June 8 – 9, 2012
QUALIFYING BROADCAST:     7:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network on June 8; LIVE on www.indycar.com (timing & scoring with audio commen­tary)
RACE BROADCAST:                 Live on Saturday, June 9 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network
RADIO BROADCAST:                The race will air on IMS Radio Network, XM channel 94 & Sirius channel 212
TRACK LAYOUT:                      1.5-mile oval
RACE LENGTH:                        228 laps / 342 miles or 550 km
2011 WINNER:                          Dario Fran­chitti (Race 1) and Will Power (Race 2)
2011 POLESITTER:                  Alex Tagliani (215.186 mph avg.)
SATO’S HIGHEST
OVAL START:                          Pole at Iowa Speedway in 2011
SATO’S HIGHEST
OVAL FINISH:                          Fifth at Texas Motor Speedway 2011 (Race 1)
SATO AT TMS:                         In two previous events here, Sato’s best start is 4th and best finish is 5th (Race 1, 2011)
RLL’S TOP START/
FINISH AT TMS:                       1st by Scott Sharp 2007 / 2nd by Vitor Meira 2005

 

NEWS & NOTES:


 1 POLE, 1 PODIUM, 2 FRONT ROW STARTS IN NINE EVENTS AT TMS FOR RLL RACING
The Fire­stone 550 will mark the 10th for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway oval.  The team’s highest start of POLE with Scott Sharp came in 2007 and highest finish of SECOND came in 2005 with Vitor Meira.  The team earned another front row start in 2004 when Buddy Rice qual­i­fied second.  Prior to the 2012 event, the team prepared a total of 16 entries for drivers such as Kenny Brack (2003 x2), Buddy Rice (2004 x2; 2005, 2006), Vitor Meira (2004 x2; 2005), Danica Patrick (2005, 2006), Jeff Simmons (2007), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2008) and Jay Howard (2011, Schmidt/RLL).  The team has earned three top-five finishes and six top-10’s at the track.  The No. 15 entry for Takuma Sato will bring that total to 17 in 2012.

 

RLL HOPES TO AGAIN CONTEND FOR THE WIN IN THE SECOND OVAL RACE OF THE SEASON
The only other oval race run so far in the 2012 season was the Indy 500 on May 27 and Takuma Sato led the third most laps at 31.  He pulled along­side even­tual winner Dario Fran­chitti in Turn 1 on the final lap to take the lead but lack of trac­tion led to a crash and he finished 17th.

SATO EARNED HIS HIGHEST OVAL FINISH OF FIFTH AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY LAST YEAR
The Fire­stone 550 at TMS will mark Sato’s third time to compete here.  Last year he earned his best IndyCar Series oval finish of fifth in Race 1 after starting fourth.  He drew the 25th starting posi­tion in Race 2 and finished 12th.  He started 11th and retired in 25th in 2010 after contact.

SATO ON THE TEAM’S COMPETITIVENESS AT INDY TRANSFERING TO THE SECOND OVAL OF THE SEASON
“Although Indi­anapolis and Texas will be quite a lot different, there are number of the things we can trans­late as a generic oval setup so I expect we will have a strong package at Texas too.”

SATO ON THE CHALLENGES OF THIS WEEKEND’S RACE AT TMS
“We will have a different aero package at TMS and we haven’t run that yet so to find the best perfor­mance from that package in a short amount of time will be a challenge.”

SATO ON THE TYPE OF RACE HE’S EXPECTING WITH THE DW12 AT TMS FOR THE FIRST TIME
“There should be less down­force as it’s a different concept from last year, so we should see less pack racing and more sepa­ra­tion through the field. However, as we saw at the Indy 500, the DW12 will create many over­taking possi­bil­i­ties so it will be a very chal­lenging and exciting race.”

SATO ON HIS SERIES BEST OVAL FINISH OF FIFTH PLACE AT TMS LAST YEAR
It was really an exciting race with a lot of side-by-side racing the whole way through the field and I enjoyed it.  The second race was quite chal­lenging and diffi­cult as I had to start from the back of the grid but overall I had good races.”

SATO’S SEASON TO DATE
Sato has run compet­i­tively in all races to date this season although his 13th place rank in series stand­ings with a total of 112 points does not reflect that perfor­mance.  He is only 64 points out of the top five (5th: Hinch­cliffe 176 pts.).  He led three of six races to date and ran as high as second and sixth in two others but has only seen the check­ered flag in Brazil where he finished third. Of the five races he failed to finish, two were mechan­ical fail­ures, one was the result of “avoid­able contact” by Hunter-Reay (Long Beach while third), and he retired due to contact in another two (Indy while attempting to win from second place on the final lap; launched into wall after hitting the curb in Detroit).

- RLL -