Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama
Verizon IndyCar Series
RACE NOTES/QUOTES – Monday, April 23, 2018
GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Mi-Jack Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “In the dry we were able to make some moves and get by some guys and turn in some good laps when we needed to before the pit stops and cycle out to a pretty good spot. Overall it was a decent day. I can’t say too much bad about it. I’ll take seventh. We lost some ground to a few of the guys ahead but overall it’s good to be third in points.”
FAST FACTS: On Sunday, Rahal started 15th and was in 11th when the red flag came out for track conditions. Once the race was restarted 37 minutes later, he spun under caution and lost two positions before the red flag was brought out again. The race was postponed until Monday after 26 laps due to heavy rain and limited visibility. On Monday, the race resumed and would run to a two-hour time limit. Rahal was passed by rookie Claman De Melo, who was two laps down and that opened the door for Pagenaud to pass and drop him to 14th. He gained a spot when Pigot had a problem on Lap 29, and another when Jones pit on Lap 36. When he made his first stop for fuel and tires on Lap 52, he had cycled up to seventh. He moved to 11th by Lap 58 as the team monitored the increased probability of rain. He took over 10th when Rossi pit. As light rain began to fall around Lap 66, some elected to pit for rain tires and Rahal ran seventh on Lap 71. He was able to hold out until Lap 74 before being in one of the last groups to pit for rain tires from eighth place. He moved up when Rossi and Pigot spun on separate laps and held seventh place until the checkered flag
He played a major factor in the most exciting races of the 2015 and 2016 seasons as he challenged for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama win but finished second both times. In 2017, he qualified 21st and alternate strategy didn’t pay off so he was only able to gain eight positions to finish 13th. In 2016, he started sixth and moved into fourth when Bourdais and Dixon made contact on the first lap. He stretched his fuel the farthest and cycled into the lead by the time he made his first of three pits stops and returned to the track in fourth. He cycled into second place before his second stop on Lap 43 and returned to the track in third place and reclaimed second place on Lap 65 by passing Power. On Lap 81, Rahal attempted to pass Pagenaud but the Frenchman made an evasive move and the two made contact sending Pagenaud off course and he returned second to Rahal. Later the pass was deemed a racing incident. On Lap 85 of 90, Rahal was behind traffic which enabled Pagenaud to close. Sixteenth placed Hawksworth allowed Rahal to pass but the two made contact which allowed Pagenaud to take the lead. Rahal’s already compromised front wing (mechanical failure on a portion since approx. Lap 50) took a fatal blow and he struggled to hold on to second place until the checkered flag.
The 2015 race at BMP kicked off a strong run of races for Rahal that largely continued for the rest of the season. He started eighth and passed Kanaan on the opening lap. He later lost a position to Filippi but passed Dixon for 7th. He pitted and ran ninth place but moved to third as others made their stops. He held off charges from fourth place Hinchcliffe on several restarts and later built a gap on him while leading Laps 35-46. He pitted from the lead for his second stop, dropped to 15th but cycled back into the lead for Laps 65-69. He made his final stop on Lap 71 and returned to the track in sixth place, approx.. 20 seconds behind the leader. With new tires and more fuel than others, he consistently turned lap times that were one-to-two seconds quicker than those in front of him and eventually passed Power, Hunter-Reay and Castroneves before he was able to close the gap on second-place Dixon in the closing laps.
With less than two laps to go, he passed Dixon but ran out of time to catch eventual race winner Newgarden and finished second. In 2014, Rahal started 18th on a wet track, ran as high as 10th, dropped four places after being hit by two cars and ultimately finished 17th. In 2013, Rahal set a lap time fast enough to progress to Round 2 and qualify in the top-12 if he had been in Group 2 but he was in Group 1 and ultimately qualified 21st. He had to pit for a new nose on the opening lap after the field checked up and he hit Servia. He moved up to 12th place but ran out of fuel on the final lap due to a malfunction in the fueling system and dropped to 21st. He started 8th, led one lap and finished fourth here in 2012 for Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR). He started 10th and finished 18th in 2011 for SCCGR and started 15th and finished 17th for Sarah Fisher Racing in 2010
He is tied for third in 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series point standings with Sebastien Bourdais with 119 points.
TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “We tried a one-stop strategy and basically everyone else was two-stoppers so we looked like we lacked pace but we had to save a massive amount of fuel. It looked good until the middle. My teammate came on charge and was on a hard two-stopper so I let him go and lost some positions a couple of times but then it looked good. If the yellow came, we would have been in a very positive position. Even not, a lot of people had to come into the pits. However, unfortunately the rain came and I had to stop again for rain tires which meant my second stint was basically just a slow pace. It’s a big shame. The rain helped me a lot yesterday to get to eighth and today, in the end the rain didn’t help my strategy. I will take it after a difficult qualifying. We need to make the car fast at the Indy Grand Prix because we have a lot of work to be done.”
FAST FACTS: On Sunday, he started 18th for his ninth race here and moved up to eighth before the red flag came out for track conditions after 19 laps. The race was restarted after 37 minutes and he maintained eighth place until the red flag came out again and the race was ultimately postponed until Monday after 26 laps due to heavy rain and limited visibility. On Monday, the race resumed and would run to a two-hour time limit. On Monday, he held eighth place on a one-stop strategy until Dixon passed him on Lap 42. He maintained his position while dealing with lapped cars. He cycled into fourth before his stop on Lap 53 for fuel and tires and returned to the track in 12th place and tried to maintain his position while saving fuel. As rain began to fall around Lap 66, the team strategized on the best time to pit for rain tires if necessary and he made his stop on Lap 72 with approx. 12 minutes left in the race. He pitted from ninth place and returned to the track in 14th but moved up as others stopped for rain tires. He moved into eight when Pigot spun and held the position until the checkered flag to earn his highest finish at the track
His highest start here is sixth in 2010 with KVRT and his previous highest finish was ninth in 2017 with Andretti Autosport which are both his only top-10 starts or finishes here. It will be his second time to compete with RLL here. In 2012 he qualified 16th but retired due to mechanical failure in 24th place. The team tested at BMP February 20 and March 20. The February test took place under mild conditions while rained ended the March test early.
Has TWO IndyCar Series wins (2013 – Long Beach street course, 2017 – Indy 500 oval) and SEVEN 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). He is currently ranked 14th in series point standings with 70 points.
NEXT RACE: The Grand Prix of Indianapolis will take place on Saturday, May 12 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
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