Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Grand Prix of Portland
NTT INDYCAR SERIES
QUALIFYING NOTES/QUOTES – September 11, 2021
RAHAL EARNED HIS BEST START OF THE SEASON OF FIFTH FOR THE GRAND PRIX OF PORTLAND; ASKEW TO START NINTH AND SATO TO START 26TH AFTER A GRID PENALTY DUE TO AN ENGINE CHANGE
1) Alex Palou 58.7701 / 120.306 mph (Group 2, Round 3)
5) Graham Rahal 59.0067 / 119.824 mph (Group 1, Round 3)
9) Oliver Askew 59.0837 / 119.668 mph (Group 1, Round 2)
24) Takuma Sato 57.9668 / 121.973 mph (Group 2, Round 1) Will start 26th
GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Total Quartz Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “Qualifying is complete here in Portland and the Total Quartz machine is going to start right up towards the front in row three. We’re going to start fifth, which is our best qualifying of the year. I’m proud of the team, proud of the boys. We made some good changes here today and definitely got the car honed in a little better. I thought we had made strides. I said at the Indy road course that we found some good stuff and I think that’s what is showing this weekend. We’ve still got to find a little bit more certainly, but I expect our race cars to be good. We will hopefully be good on tires and hopefully be able to go to the front. It’s great to be out here; this is a beautiful area to go racing. I’ve had a couple of bad starts here, certainly on me, but hopefully we can avoid that tomorrow and go race and have a really solid day. It’s going to be a long day. It’s pretty much a three stopper no matter what you do strategy wise. Its going to be all out so we will see what we can do.”
TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 Panasonic / Mi-Jack Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “It was a tough day. For the first practice session – and only practice session before qualifying, we installed a new engine, and it seems like we had an issue. So basically, I had no timed lap in practice and then we had to change the engine so that was a really difficult situation because here in Portland, the field is very competitive, and tenths make a big difference. Now you have to go qualify with a complete unknown and a lot of challenging fast turns. We did try our best, but we didn’t make it through the first segment, but we were close — only two tenths down from the top which was quite encouraging. The car seems to be competitive. At least we have one more practice session before the race so at least we can catch them up and, hopefully (have a race) like in 2018 where we had a very good race from the back of the grid. Even though I have a penalty for an engine change, I think Sunday will be very exciting. We will try our best.”
OLIVER ASKEW, No. 45 Hy-Vee Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “We are P9 with the 45 Hy-Vee car and I’m really happy with that. I think to be top-10 in INDYCAR right now in qualifying is a solid effort. So, we’ll focus on the race trim now. We have a session this afternoon to kind of decide what the tire strategy is going to be tomorrow. I’m really happy for Graham as well. It looks like he’s getting ready to go here in the Fast Six. I think top-10 qualifying right now with how competitive it is, is really solid so I’m happy with that. A big thanks to everyone at RLL and Hy-Vee, and everyone on the 45 car.”
RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT PORTLAND … Sato brought the team its second win here in 2018 in Indy car racing’s returning to Portland International Raceway (PIR) for the first time since the 24th consecutive race was held in 2007. The 2021 race will mark the 15th time for RLL to compete in an Indy car race here. The team competed in CART and Champ Car-sanctioned races at PIR from 1992-2003 with a best starting position of pole by Bryan Herta in 1998 and Max Papis in 2001 and best finish of first place by Max Papis in 2001 and Sato in 2018. RLL has earned a total of four podium finishes (3rd – B. Rahal 1995, Herta 1998) and has led a total of 114 laps here (1998: Herta, 20; 2001: Papis, 69, Sato: 25). In addition, the team competed in the Toyota Atlantic races here in 2003 (Danica Patrick, Jon Fogerty) and 2004 (Patrick and Chris Festa).
NEXT UP: The Grand Prix of Portland will be televised live on NBC beginning at 3 PM ET Sunday, September 12.