PRACTICE BROADCASTS: Live on INDYCAR Pass, the direct-to-consumer streaming product from NBC Sports Gold, on Friday from 12:05-12:50 p.m. and 4:00-4:45 p.m. And Saturday from 12:00-12:45 p.m. All times Eastern. Also live on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network (AAPIRN) and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis).
QUALIFYING BROADCAST: Live on NBCSN and INDYCAR Pass beginning at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 22. Also live on the AAPIRN and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis).
RACE BROADCAST: Live Sunday, June 23 beginning at 12 p.m. ET on NBC, INDYCAR Pass and the AAPIRN. Coverage will also air on Sirius 113 and XM 209.
TRACK LAYOUT: 4.048-mile, 14-turn permanent road course
RACE LENGTH: 55 laps / 222.6 miles
2018 WINNER: Josef Newgarden
2018 POLESITTER: Josef Newgarden (1:43.2026 / 140.020 mph)
RAHAL’S BEST ROAD AMERICA START/FINISH: 4th in 2007 with NHLR / 3rd in 2007 & 2016; will be his 5th Indy car race here & 9th overall
RAHAL’S HIGHEST SERIES START/FINISH: Pole at St. Pete (street) 2009, Kansas (oval) 2009, Detroit Race 1 (street) 2017 / 1st in St. Pete in 2008, Fontana & Mid-Ohio 2015, Texas 2016, Detroit Race 1 & Race 2 2017
SATO’S BEST ROAD AMERICA START/FINISH: 7th / 4th – both in 2018 with RLL; will be 4th race here
SATO’S HIGHEST SERIES START/FINISH: 9 Poles: Iowa (oval) 2011, Edmonton (street) 2011, Houston Race 1 (street) 2013, St. Pete (street) 2014, Detroit Dual 2 (street) 2014, Detroit Dual 2 2017, Pocono (oval) 2017, Barber (road) 2019, Texas (oval) 2019 / 4 Wins: Long Beach (2013), Indianapolis 500 (2017), Portland (road) 2018, Barber 2019
RLL’S BEST START / FINISH AT ROAD AMERICA: 1st – Kenny Brack (2001) / 2nd – Bobby Rahal (1996); 16th race here
NEWS & NOTES:
RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT ROAD AMERICA
The 2019 REV Group Grand Prix at Road America will mark the 16th time for Rahal Letterman Lanigan (RLL) Racing to compete in an Indy car race here and fourth since 2003. The team competed in CART and Champ Car-sanctioned races here from 1992-2003 and again since 2016 with a best starting position of pole by Kenny Brack in 2001 and best finish of second place by Bobby Rahal in 1996. The team has earned a total of five podium finishes here (2nd – B. Rahal 1996; 3rd – B. Rahal 1992-1993, Kenny Brack 2000, Graham Rahal 2016).
Prior to 2019, the team prepared a total of 26 Indy car entries for drivers such as Bobby Rahal (1992-1998), Mike Groff (1993-94), Raul Boesel (1995), Bryan Herta (1996-99), Max Papis (1999-2001), Kenny Brack (2000-01), Jimmy Vasser (2002), Michel Jourdain (2002-2003), Graham Rahal (2016-2018) and Takuma Sato (2018). The No. 15 Gehl / Manitou Honda entry for Graham Rahal and the No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda entry for Takuma Sato will bring that total to 28 in 2019. The team has also competed in ALMS and IMSA-sanctioned races here under the name BMW Team RLL since 2009 and has three wins (2009, 2010, 2012), three poles (2009, 2011, 2014) and a total of eight podium finishes here.
TWO INDYCAR PODIUMS IN PAST FOUR RACES HERE FOR RAHAL
The REV Group Grand Prix at Road America will be Graham Rahal’s ninth race here and fifth in a Champ or Indy car. In 2007 and 2016 here, he finished third, was eighth in 2017 and sixth in 2018. Last year, he started ninth and moved to seventh on the opening lap after Power dropped back due to a broken header and he passed Dixon, who later regained the spot. Rahal took over seventh when Bourdais pitted early with an issue on Lap 9 of 55 before his first stop on Lap 13. Once Kanaan pit out of sequence, he regained seventh on Lap 18 before his second stop on Lap 27 for fuel and sticker alternate tires. He passed Wickens for sixth on Lap 33 and began closing on teammate Sato. He moved into fifth when Rossi had to pit for a problem on Lap 38 and made his third and final stop from fifth on Lap 41. Wickens was waved out of his pit as Pagenaud, who was pitting just ahead of him, was coming in but the situation was reviewed for an unsafe pit release, but no action was taken. The stop enabled Wickens to return to the track ahead of Rahal, who was now sixth. He held the position until the checkered flag. In 2017, Rahal started sixth and jumped to fourth on the start past Pagenaud and Dixon. Dixon regained the spot but INDYCAR determined that Rahal had blocked Dixon, so he had to give up one spot and moved back to sixth on Lap 2. After a handful of laps, Rahal knew the team would need to go with a four-stop strategy rather than a three-stop. After stops on Laps 7, 19, 29 and 42 he was running 13th. A Lap 45 full course caution for Kanaan’s crash bunched the field and moved Rahal into 12th. Once the race restarted on Lap 47, he got by Aleshin, Chilton and later Rossi who contacted another car on Lap 49. On Lap 53 he took over eighth place when seventh place Hunter-Reay made contact with another car and took the checkered flag in that spot. In 2016, Rahal not only returned to the track to race for the first time in nine years (2007), he also returned to the podium with a third-place finish after starting sixth… He finished third in the 2007 Champ Car race after starting fourth with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing… An electrical failure in the season-finale Atlantic Championship race in 2006 at Road America after starting third led to a runner-up finish in the title fight with eventual champion Simon Pagenaud after he retired in 20th place… Rahal also competed in two Formula BMW events here in 2004 and once in Star Mazda in 2005. He is looking forward to returning to Road America.
“I have high hopes for the race at Road America,” said Rahal. “I think Takuma and I have a lot of the same things in mind (for the car setup), and we are eager to get out there and see what we can do. It’s challenging to get the lap right due to the track length. You can get so many sectors perfect and then make one mistake and it’s very costly. With the long straights, every corner and every mistake carry a big lap time penalty if you get it wrong. We will be looking to avoid that. Road America is set up perfectly for racing and in particular Indy car racing. We love racing there as it was always a huge family event for us and will be yet again this year as all the Rahal’s will gather there over the weekend.”
TAKUMA AT ROAD AMERICA AND THE BARBER ROAD COURSE WIN THIS SEASON
The 2019 REV Group Grand Prix will be Takuma Sato’s fourth race at the four-mile, 14-turn course. His best start and finish here came last year of seventh and fourth, respectively. On the start last year, he passed Power, Bourdais and then later Wickens on the opening lap for fourth place. He made his first stop from fourth place on Lap 13 and cycled back into position once Dixon made his stop a few laps later. He made his second stop on Lap 27 from fourth and on his out lap he passed Wickens and then Rossi on the outside of Turn 5 and Rossi made an aggressive move while alongside and bumped him off track in Turn 6 for fifth place. He held the position until Rossi had a problem and pitted on L38. He held fourth through his third pit stop on Lap 41 and took the checkered flag there after 55 laps to earn his best finish of the season. In 2017, he started 20th and finished 19th with Andretti Autosport and in 2016 with A.J. Foyt Racing, he started 15th and jumped up to eighth early in the race before an electrical issue limited his finish to 17th place. He is hoping to be a contender at Road America after his dominating win from pole at the Barber Motorsports Park road course in April.
“The track is just great; a classic super-fast road course. There is a lot of great history behind it and we all love to race there. The very fast turns and especially the iconic “Carousel” and heavy braking area after the long straight with low downforce is challenging. Getting the balance right with good grip and how much you can take off downforce i.e. reduce drag for speed is always a tough one and that’s challenging for both driver and the engineers. The Indy road course was a tough one with tricky conditions and we couldn’t adapt well there but Road America should suit us more. We have a good base set up from last year and this year’s development should apply in a good way. Barber was a very special moment and perhaps the combination of conditions and characteristics of the track matched great for us and there is no reason why we couldn’t repeat that in Road America.”
GRAHAM ON THE THROWBACK SCHEME FOR HIS NO. 15 HONDA AT ROAD AMERICA
The team is looking forward to getting to Road America to unveil Graham Rahal’s No. 15 Gehl / Manitou Honda that will feature a throwback design based on Bobby Rahal’s 1994 Lola-Honda race car. In addition to being a fan favorite, the livery was also chosen as a celebration of Honda’s 25 seasons in the sport, after years of groundwork by Bobby Rahal led to their first season of competition in 1994. The iconic “Powered by Honda” logo, first used in Indy car racing when the program debuted in 1994, will return for the event.
“The Gehl throwback paint scheme is amazing,” said Graham Rahal. “It really looks tremendous and is just like dad’s 1994 MGD car. The team did a great job with it and we’re thankful to Gehl for allowing us to do it. It’s also special to commemorate Honda’s 25th season in Indy car racing and the part that dad had in that.”
TAKUMA ON STRONG PERFORMANCE AT THIS POINT IN THE SEASON VS. THIS TIME IN 2018
Takuma’s fourth place finish at Road America last year was evidence that the momentum the team had been building since Detroit last year after his return to RLL was paying off. Takuma went on to have strong performances and won at Portland before the end of the season. So far this season, he has won from pole on the road course at Barber Motorsports Park and won pole for the oval race in Texas in addition to earning third place podium finishes at Indy and Detroit.
“RLL was a single car team for a while and adding an extra team could take some time to perform in the highest level. We always had potential and showed good speed and we were seeing good results from Detroit onwards. The team did a great job of building up the No. 30 car’s performance all the time. The 2018 Road America race was good, we simply had a good test earlier. Everything is related and all the tests in pre-season helped us but was not enough time to build every area, but we always moved forward, and our performance was improved a lot. In 2019 it was an even bigger improvement on the engineering side and all the team worked together very closely so the continuous work is definitely making great progress.”
TAKUMA ON BEING AT PIT OUT
By virtue of winning pole at the previous race at Texas Motor Speedway, Takuma earned the first pit spot at Road America. He is looking forward to getting the race weekend started.
“It will always help to be there. You can maximize the acceleration out of the box but there is also less chaos when you come into the box, especially under a yellow (flag) situation based on if you are competing in the front group of course. And it’s a good feeling for the boys to be at the very front! I can’t wait to go racing in Road America.”
GRAHAM ON THE SEASON TO DATE AND THE GOAL FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE SEASON
Rahal’s top start this season is second place to Sato in Barber and he has earned three top-five finishes, including a season-best third place in Texas. Other promising races include Barber where he led a lap but retired due to a throttle position sensor issue, had a post-race penalty in Long Beach that dropped him off the podium to fourth, and could have been a contender in the Indy 500 until contact in the final stage while passing for fifth place took him out of the event. Overall the team has been competitive at most races and Rahal feels the team should be contenders for wins in the second half of the season.
“I feel we have been very competitive speed wise, but we still need to button up some loose ends. Texas was surely a step in the direction we want to be going in, but now it’s time to win. No better place than Road America! We just need to win races. The championship is likely out of our reach, but wins can help us close the gap more than anything else. I don’t see why we can’t be in the perfect spot to make it happen.”
POINTS BATTLE AFTER 9 OF 17 RACES
Heading into Round 10 of 17 at the REV Group Grand Prix, Sato has a total of 272 points and is ranked fifth overall. He trails leader Josef Newgarden by 95 (367) and third place Simon Pagenaud by 47 (319). Graham Rahal is eighth with 211.