Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
ABC Supply 500 – Pocono Raceway
Round 14 of 17 in the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series
DATE: August 18-19, 2018
PRACTICE BROADCASTS: Live on www.Indycar.com with analysis from the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network (AAPIRN) and on the INDYCAR YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/indycar) on Saturday beginning at 10:30 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. ET. Also on the INDYCAR 18 app.
QUALIFYING BROADCAST: NBCSN will air live coverage on Saturday, August 18 at 1:30 p.m. ET, on the (AAPIRN), the INDYCAR 18 app and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis).
RACE BROADCAST: Live on NBCSN, Sunday, August 19 beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET and on the INDYCAR 18 app. The race will also air live on the AAPIRN, Sirius 217, XM 209 and www.indycar.com.
TRACK LAYOUT: 2.5-mile triangular oval
RACE LENGTH: 200 laps / 500 miles
2017 WINNER: Will Power
2017 POLESITTER: Takuma Sato (2-lap avg. speed 219.639 mph)
RAHAL’S BEST OVAL START/FINISH: Pole (Kansas 2009) / 1st (Fontana 2015, 500-miles; Texas 2016)
RAHAL’S BEST POCONO START/FINISH: 5th in 2015 / 9th in 2017; will be his 6th race here
RAHAL’S BEST 500-MILE START/FINISH: 4th – 2009 Indy 500 / 1st – Fontana 2015
SATO’S BEST OVAL START/FINISH: Pole (Pocono 2017) / 1st (Indy 500 2017)
SATO’S BEST POCONO START/FINISH: 1st 2017 (AA) / 6th in 2015 (A.J. Foyt); will be his 6th race here
SATO’S BEST 500-MILE START/FINISH: 1st – 2017 Pocono / 1st – Indy 500 2017
RLL’S BEST START/ FINISH AT POCONO: 5th in 2015 / 9th in 2017 – both by Rahal
RLL’S BEST 500-MILE START/FINISH: 1st – Buddy Rice, 2004 Indy 500 / 1st – Vasser (2002 Fontana), Rice (2004 Indy 500), G. Rahal (2015 Fontana)
NOTES & QUOTES:
RLL AT POCONO RACEWAY
The 2018 ABC Supply 500 will mark the sixth open-wheel race at Pocono Raceway since 1989 as well as the sixth for the team. The 2.5-mile oval hosted Indy car races from 1971 to 1989 and team co-owner Bobby Rahal competed in eight races here from 1982-1989. The team entered cars for Graham Rahal (2013-2017) and James Jakes (2013) at this track and the No. 15 Bobby Rahal Automotive Group entry for Rahal and No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic entry for Takuma Sato will be the bring the total to eight for the team here.
GRAHAM AT POCONO RACEWAY
The ABC Supply 500 will be Rahal’s sixth race at Pocono Raceway. His highest start is fifth in 2015 and his highest finish is 9th last year although he has run in the top-five all but two races. In 2017, he started seventh, was running fourth near the halfway point of the 200-lap race and later restarted the race in second place on Lap 118 and swapped the lead with Kanaan repeatedly the rest of the stint although he was only credited with nine laps led due to leading many laps in the back of the track but giving up the spot before the start/finish line. After his fifth stop on Lap 151 he returned to the track behind Kanaan and Andretti, who passed him in the pits. Right after that, he ran three-wide with Munoz and Castroneves but backed out to avoid contact. After that, a group of cars was able to carry momentum around him and he ran 13th. He climbed back up to ninth place, which he held for the final 10 laps. In 2016, he started 11th, ran as high as fourth and finished 11th. In 2015, he entered the race second in the point standings and started fifth. He ran in the top-eight until a fueling problem on his second pit stop dropped him to 20th place. On Lap 66 of 200, he was in 16th place on a restart and got a run on Justin Wilson and pulled inside him on track. They were two-wide until Tristan Vautier decided to dive low inside, partially on the track, and make it three-wide. Vautier made contact with Rahal and spun the two into the wall. Both were checked and released from the medical center. The DNF in 20th place hindered his title bid after having entered the penultimate race in second place and only 9 points behind leader Montoya who finished third and increased his lead to 34 points entering the double-points season-finale in Sonoma. In 2014, he started 14th and moved into 11th on the opening lap but his helmet pad on the right side of the cockpit flew out of the car and he gradually dropped to 19th. The helmet pad helps the drivers head stay upright while sustaining high G-Forces for 200 laps and he was unable to see as well. Once he made his first stop and the team replaced the helmet pad, he steadily climbed back up the field and ran 12th midway through the race and held the fastest lap of the race through his third stint. He was in 11th place when a problem surfaced on Lap 158/200. The car appeared to abruptly change and Rahal spun. The side of the car made contact with the Turn 2 wall and he ultimately retired in 19th place. In 2013 he qualified 17th, started 16th due to a grid penalty ahead and finished 18th. Graham is looking forward to the race after having a competitive car here in 2017.
“Pocono is a big weekend for us. We have a lot of employees and customers of our dealerships coming out and we want to make everyone proud and have a great race. We came up short last year at Pocono so we would like to do better this year. I’m excited to get there. It’s a beautiful part of the world; it’s a great racetrack and great challenge for us. I think we will have a lot of fun.”
TAKUMA ON HIS 2017 POLE AT POCONO AND EXPECTATIONS THIS YEAR
This will be Takuma’s sixth race here. In his five previous races, his best start is pole last year with Andretti Autosport and his best finish is sixth in 2015 after he led three laps with A.J. Foyt Racing. He retired with electrical failure in 2014 and contact in 2013 and 2016 while with A.J. Foyt Racing. Takuma recalled winning pole last year and expects new challenges with the universal aero kit for this year’s race.
“I knew we could be competitive but it was little hard to know how much I could commit as I just saw my sister car lose control and hit a wall heavily just before my run. So we adjusted wings accordingly and went out. It was then a little too conservative in terms of balance and I had to run wide at the exit of Turn 1 but I kept on power and got on pole. That was a really great feeling and big satisfaction. With the universal aero kit, we can achieve a similar downforce level in Super Speedway trim as we saw at the INDY 500 so we can have similar handling but to go fast, we need to reduce the drag and that means we will lose a huge amount of downforce. So it will be quite challenging but I expect we will be competitive.”
RAHAL & SATO ON OVAL PROGRESS SINCE THE INDY 500 & THE TYPE OF RACING EXPECTED
The ABC Supply 500 will be the second 500-mile race of the season after drivers and teams gained experience at the 2017 Indy 500 with universal aero kit. Graham and Takuma will participate in a practice session, followed by qualifying and then the final practice on Saturday before Sunday’s 500-mile race.
“With the new aero kit, I think we found some things since Indy that will help improve our performance,” said Rahal. “We had a good race car in Indy but I definitely think we have learned a lot from an aerodynamic standpoint. I expect to be more competitive. I expect to have a faster car. If you get the balance right, anyone can run well there. Hopefully we will make that happen. Pocono is always a competitive race. With the long straightaways, there is always tons of passing. The restarts are absolutely nuts. We’ll just have to see how it all plays out. This new car is going to accelerate really well in the draft.”
“The data from Indy should help us a lot but the configuration we had last year between Indy and Pocono was different and this year there is certainly a lot less downforce so it could be very tricky,” added Sato. “Turn 1 will be limited by understeer but T urn 3 could be very challenging as I expect the car goes too neutral but we will see. In the Indy 500, we experienced it is extremely tough to follow or get close to the car in front so Pocono will be more challenging than previous years. The tow effect seems big and it is a long fast straight at Pocono so it could be interesting.”
GRAHAM ON SEASON TO DATE AND OUTLOOK FOR FINAL FOUR RACES
“Our season has been pretty good in many ways. We’ve had a lot of top-10s and a lot of consistency but clearly not great season because we haven’t won and we are disappointed in that but we have four races left to get that done. I think we can be very strong in Pocono. We led there a bit last year so I think in the end we should be pretty decent. I think having two races on ovals and two on road courses is a good challenge. Pocono is obviously a very high-speed, intense place and then we go to St. Louis which is 1.25 miles, so half the distance of Pocono with really tight corners. The two ovals back-to-back will give us great challenge and I think we ought to be very good on the road courses.
RAHAL AND SATO ON THEIR APPROACH TO A 500-MILE RACE
Graham won the exciting 2015 500-mile race at Auto Club Speedway in 2015 and Takuma won the 2017 Indy 500. Both agree that the approach to a 500-mile race is different from other races and plan to rely on the experience they gained en route to victory in those.
“Five-hundred-mile-races take a lot of patience,” said Rahal. “We’ve won one before. You have to understand how it all plays out. Pocono can typically be pretty green and can get away from you a little bit. We will go there, work hard and make sure we have a good solid day.”
“Sure it helps any circumstances to have experience,” added Sato. “A 500-mile race is a long one so your physical and mental condition has to be strong and it’s important to work with your team very closely as there are so many pit stops as well. I am ready to compete competitively at another 500 mile race so I’m really looking forward the weekend.”
SATO ON THE SEASON TO DATE AND OUTLOOK FOR THE FUTURE
Since Detroit, the pace and potential of the No. 30 team has gained momentum. Once luck is on the team’s side, the finishes should be strong. Like St. Pete, Long Beach, and the Indy Grand Prix, Takuma’s finishing position was greatly compromised when he was hit by another car. Max Chilton, who was later penalized for avoidable contact, hit him while he was sixth on Lap 2 and he couldn’t recovered from the unscheduled pit stop and finished 17th. The ever-positive Sato feels that the team is on the right path to success.
“It’s been a tough season, a lot of happening outside of your control but that’s racing and we were very unfortunate from that point of view. However, it’s great feeling that our speed and competitiveness is getting better and stronger in the second half of the season so we just need to concentrate on our job and keep positive about what we are heading to and we just need to perform well. The result will come.”
THE POINT STANDINGS
The four remaining races in 2018 include two ovals and two road courses, including the double-points race at Sonoma Raceway. Rahal is ranked eighth in series point standings with a total of 335 and is 64 points out of fifth place. Sato is ranked 12th in series point standings with 258 and is 35 points out of 10th place.