Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey – WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca
Round 17 of 17 in the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series
DATE: September 20-22, 2019
PRACTICE BROADCASTS: Live on INDYCAR Pass, the direct-to-consumer streaming product from NBC Sports Gold, on Friday from 1:30-2:15 p.m. and 5:10-6:40 p.m. And Saturday from 1:00-1:45 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 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, September 21. Also live on the AAPIRN and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis).
RACE BROADCAST: Live Sunday, September 22 beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC, INDYCAR Pass and the AAPIRN. Coverage will also air on Sirius XM Satellite Radio (XM 205, Sirius 98).
TRACK LAYOUT: 2.258-mile, 11-turn road course
RACE LENGTH: 90 laps / 203.22 miles
PREVIOUS WINNER: Patrick Carpentier (2004)
PREVIOUS POLESITTER: Sebastien Bourdais (2004, 1:09.358; 116.163 mph)
RAHAL’S BEST LAGUNA SECA START / FINISH: First race here
RAHAL’S HIGHEST SERIES START / FINISH: 3 Poles – St. Pete (street) 2009, Kansas (oval) 2009, Detroit (street) 2017 / 6 Wins – St. Pete 2008, Fontana (oval; 500 miles) 2015, Mid-Ohio (road) 2015, Texas (oval) 2016; Detroit Race 1 2017, Detroit Race 2 2017
SATO’S BEST LAGUNA SECA START / FINISH: First 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 / 5 Wins – Long Beach (2013), Indianapolis 500 (2017), Portland (road) 2018, Barber 2019, St. Louis (oval) 2019
RLL’S HIGHEST LAGUNA INDYCAR START/FINISH: 3 Indy car Poles – 1997-1999 (Herta) / 3 Indy car Wins – 1998-1999 (Herta), 2001 (Papis) / 6 Indy car Podiums
RLL’S HIGHEST LAGUNA IMSA START/FINISH: 3 IMSA Poles – 2011, ‘15, ‘19 / 3 IMSA Wins – 2015, ‘17, ‘18 / 10 IMSA Podiums
NEWS & NOTES:
RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING RETURNS SITE OF ONE OF ITS MOST SUCCESSFUL TRACKS
The 2019 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey will mark the 13th Indy car event for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and first here since 12 consecutive races here from 1992-2003. The team has also competed in ALMS and IMSA races here since 2009 as BMW Team RLL and has earned three wins, three poles and a total of 10 podium finishes to date – including pole last weekend and a second-place finish. The Indy car team has earned three wins, three poles and a total of six podiums (1st – Herta 1998-1999; Papis 2001; 2nd – Herta 1996; 3rd: B. Rahal 1992, Papis 1999). The team won three straight pole positions (Herta 1997-1999). Prior to the 2019 event, the team prepared a total of 21 Indy car entries for drivers Bobby Rahal (1992-98), Mike Groff (1994), Raul Boesel (1995), Bryan Herta (1996-99), Max Papis (1999-2001), Jimmy Vasser (2002), and Michel Jourdain Jr. (2002-03). The No. 15 United Rentals entry for Graham Rahal and No. 30 ABeam entry for Takuma Sato will bring the Indy car total to 23 entries in 2019.
BOBBY RAHAL AT LAGUNA SECA – 11 MAJOR WINS OVER HIS CAREER AS A DRIVER AND TEAM OWNER
Bobby Rahal captured his first major race win at Laguna Seca in the Can Am series in 1979 so it’s only fitting that the track has become the most successful for RLL overall as a team. After that Can Am win, Rahal went on to become the only driver to win four straight Indy car wins at the track from 1984-1987, the 1985 win coming from pole. A third place in 1992 brought him his fifth podium finish at the track. In terms of Indy car history at Laguna Seca, in 22 races from 1983-2004, the most wins other drivers have is two (Danny Sullivan 1988, 1990), Michael Andretti (1991-92), Paul Tracy (1993-94), Bryan Herta with RLL (1998-99), Patrick Carpentier (2003-04).
“There is no other circuit that we’ve ever raced on, either me personally as a driver or as a team owner that we’ve had as much success as we’ve had at than Laguna Seca. If you include my wins, which began with my first big professional win in the 1979 Can Am series at Laguna Seca. Then I won four Indy car races in a row from 1984 through 1987 and won my third championship there. I didn’t win overall that day but finished third and won my third championship there in 1992. And then of course we’ve had six wins since that time with RLL and either Bryan Herta or Max Papis on the Indy car side or in IMSA with BMW Team RLL. You add all of that up and that’s 11 major race wins at Laguna Seca over the course of my career. It’s a very special place. To have part of the track named after you is pretty cool too. We have a very special relationship with Laguna Seca and of course we enjoy going to the beautiful Monterey peninsula.”
GRAHAM AND TAKUMA ON BOBBY AND THE TEAM’S SUCCESS AT LAGUNA SECA
With a total of six wins, six poles and 16 podium finishes between the Indy car team and IMSA sports car team at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Graham and Takuma are hoping to add to those stats with a good season finale.
“Dad was always strong at Laguna, and it definitely has had some good mojo for my family and our team,” said Graham Rahal. “I am eager to get back on track and see if the things we’ve learned throughout 2019 will help us be very competitive here to end the season on a strong note.”
“I think that’s (four consecutive wins) an incredible achievement and it will be so tough to repeat that but it’s really great that the team has such a great chemistry at Laguna Seca,” added Sato. “It’s going to be very challenging to transfer to today’s IndyCar season but I believe we have a great chance to be competitive and we all feel very positive to go there knowing team’s great history there.”
GRAHAM ON INDYCAR’S RETURN TO LAGUNA SECA AND THE SEASON TO DATE
“Laguna is tremendous, an awesome track and great region of the world. We couldn’t be more excited to see Indy car racing back in the Monterey Peninsula. I think the season has been filled with some untapped potential for me. I feel we had some great runs, a lot of top 10s, but we certainly never expected to go through the year without a win and we aim to make sure that isn’t the case in Laguna. We have made some great gains but I’ve made my mistakes and we have lived up to all our potential at times, so we simply need to finish strong and focus on 2020. We hope that we can combine what we’ve learned on several tracks. We think we have some direction to follow, and I think myself, Takuma and all of the engineers are excited to see what we have for Laguna.”
TAKUMA ON INDYCAR’S RETURN TO LAGUNA SECA AND THE SEASON TO DATE
“It’s great for the series and fans. Laguna Seca has a long great history with IndyCar and it’s one of the favorite tracks for fans and competitors. There is a no question that Monterey is one of most gorgeous places in North America and that region is so fantastic with food, wine and the living culture so I love it. It’s been a great season for us. We have achieved multiple wins, poles and podiums, in particular the third-place podium at the Indy500. Certainly, that’s my most successful season in IndyCar. I would like to give a huge compliment to all of the No. 30 crew and engineers for their fantastic work. They gave me an environment for winning. We will keep work hard to make it (another win in 2019) happen. We have not been as strong as Barber at other road courses but we showed good speed and potential so I expect to be able to carry good things from Barber to Laguna Seca.”
TAKUMA ON A POSSIBLE FIFTH PLACE RANK FOR 2019
“We all want to finish the season high and certainly it’s mathematically possible for fifth place, which is a great target but we are just solely focused on the weekend and will race hard to get the best possible result which is no different to other races. Also, one of our loyal sponsors, ABeam, returns as primary sponsor at Laguna Seca for my No. 30 car so I am very much looking forward to having a great weekend.”
GRAHAM AND TAKUMA ON THE CORKSCREW
“The Corkscrew is all placement,” said Rahal. “Do it right, place your car in the right spot and make sure you aim for the right tree on the hillside otherwise it could be an even more exciting ride!”
“The Corkscrew is amazing,” added Sato. “It is so challenging to get it right because simply you cannot see anything due to the massive elevation change! You have to hit the brake before you see the corner in a never-straight situation and turn-in before you see the apex of the corner so that it’s not a very fast point of track but you have to be committed a lot. I think Laguna Seca is a great track with a lot of high-speed turns with big elevation changes which makes it very attractive.”
POINTS BATTLE AFTER 16 OF 17 RACES
The Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey is a double-points race like the Indy 500 was and therefore can make a big difference in each drivers’ season-ending points rank. Takuma Sato is ranked sixth in series point standings with a total of 397 points and Rahal is ninth with 353. Leader Josef Newgarden has 593, second place Alexander Rossi has 552, third place Simon Pagenaud has 551, fourth place Scott Dixon has 508 and fifth place Will Power has 469.