Sato Earned His Best Qualifying Position of 10th for the Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Fire­stone 550 – Texas Motor Speedway
IZOD IndyCar Series


POLE:   Alex Tagliani     2-lap avg. speed of 215.691 mph                       (L1: 215.795, L2: 215.587)
10th:     Takuma Sato    2-lap avg. speed of 214.196 mph                       (L1: 214.211, L2: 214.181)

TAKUMA SATO, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “It was quite an adven­ture today. We are using a different aero­dy­namic package here than we did in the Indy 500 and it was the first time for us to run at Texas this year.  We only had a one hour session and there were so many things for us to work on.  The car wasn’t as comfort­able to drive as we wanted but we had good data from the prac­tice session and put it all together for qual­i­fying.  We should be happy with our perfor­mance in qual­i­fying consid­ering the situ­a­tion. It’s good to start in the top-10.  The race setup is quite different from the qual­i­fying setup and we will continue to work on it in the next prac­tice session.”

FAST FACTS: His best oval finish of fifth place came at TMS last year (Race 1) after he started fourth. He drew the 25th starting posi­tion in Race 2 and finished 12th.  He started 11th and retired in 25th in 2010 after contact.  It will be his third race at TMS… His best oval qual­i­fying is pole at Iowa Speedway in 2011 and his best finish is fifth in Race 1 at TMS in 2011… Is Sato’s first season at RLL and third in IndyCar and it appears to be the start of his best season to date in the series… Sato led three of six races this year – including 31 laps at the only other oval race this year – the Indy 500 — and nearly won the event. Has led 58 laps to date in 2012… In 34 starts in 2010 – 2011, has 17 career top-10 starting spots including four top-five starts and two poles ( Edmonton and Iowa 2011). He has earned eight top-10 finishes including three top-five spots (fourth at Mid-Ohio, fifth at Texas and St. Peters­burg in 2011).  Led a total of 61 laps from 2010-11.

JAY O’CONNELL, Vice Pres­i­dent Tech­nology: “The one-hour prac­tice was short­ened a bit today due to the weepers and so forth but we did our best to get Takuma comfort­able and figure out what ride heights and gears the car wants with this aero package. Since we didn’t test here on May 7 we were a little bit behind the other teams but we worked as quickly as we could to dial in those basic settings and get Takuma comfort­able and then went straight in to qual­i­fying and Takuma did a great job with the trim level that we accom­plished in our qual­i­fying. Having not pre-run that setting, he went out there and did a great job and put it in 10th place.  We are obvi­ously going to focus on running in traffic in this next prac­tice and start from where we left off to improve the car another step and try to increase the stability and the ability to run behind other cars and carry the momentum.”

RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT TEXAS The Fire­stone 550 will mark the 10th event 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.

NEXT UP: The 228-lap Fire­stone 550 will take place tomorrow, Saturday, June 9, and will be tele­vised live by NBC Sports Network at 8 PM (ET). It will also be broad­cast by the IMS Radio Network on Sirius XM (XM 94 and Sirius 212). Timing and Scoring infor­ma­tion is avail­able for all sessions from