Oliver Askew says he is excited to racing for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing this weekend in the Portland Grand Prix as the NTT IndyCar Series begin the West Coast Run In.

The test went really well at Barber Motorsports Park. The car was very enjoyable to drive and I’m looking forward to putting it in a competitive environment in the last three races. I’ve done a couple of races this year in INDYCAR, filling in for a couple of drivers, both in Detroit and Road America. I’ve also been racing in the LMP3 series with Jarett Andretti this year full time in IMSA and staying in the gym as much as I can, cycling, (but) there’s no substitute for being in a car, so thankfully I’ve been active this year. I have a lot of great memories at Portland but my favorite memory was the first time there in the Indy Pro 2000 car where we won at that track, and ultimately finished third in the championship. That was the final round of that championship. And then the following year I secured a double podium in Indy Lights which ultimately propelled us to winning the championship a couple weeks later in Laguna Seca. It’s been a good track for me, I feel comfortable there. And I also had my first INDYCAR experience at Portland International Raceway at a test in the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing car. I know I’m ready for these last three races. I believe that this car is very capable, and I felt that at the test in Barber. It’s very enjoyable to drive and I think we can do some great things.”

Graham Rahal is delighted to welcome Oliver Askew to the team saying:

It’s (Portland) also going to be exciting as we have another new driver with Oliver coming in on the third car. I’m looking forward to seeing how he does and how he adapts to the team. He’s got a lot of experience in INDYCAR with Schmidt but also this year driving for Carpenter. He’s been around it a while. He’s still a young kid but I expect him to do a good job. I’m looking forward to seeing how all that pans out for him and how we can work as a team because with him doing the last three races, it’s going to be critical that we’re on top of it and that we work together to make sure our cars are improving week in and week out

The Portland racexwas cancelled last season and speaking about its return to the calendar this year Rahal said:

It’s good to be back in Portland. I know with COVID and obviously missing out (on the 2020 race), it’s good to be back and get back to racing there and bring some smiles and light to that region of the world – they could use it for sure. As I said it’s great to be back in the Total car, a company that’s stuck with us – is having a great year this year worldwide, and we’re excited to add some further momentum to the rest of their year

Takuma Sato won here in 2018 and speaking about the challenge posed by the race he said:

Portland is a flat track and possibly shorter to medium length of the road courses, but it is quite challenging because it has got a quite fast chicane before the last corner where I think most of the drivers find it’s very tough to get it right. We need to carry a lot of speed through this and braking into the last corner while the car is still leaning on it so the car never gets super straight. Good straight line and heavy braking into turn 1 which is always a great passing point and go to the basically the sector 2 is kind of a complex section where you have double apex corners and it’s a fun track – it’s challenging. I like it.”

Sato is hoping for a repeat of his victory here saying:

“We are going back to Portland, which is just fantastic news. Certainly, it’s a special place for me because it was my first win with Rahal Letterman Lanigan back in 2018, and first race win on a road course too which was just a special day. Portland is a great city, lots of great food and restaurants. We just never go wrong over there so we love that. But mostly the fans are so enthusiastic, it’s just fantastic the support I’ve gotten and that we’ve got. We really, really missed (not going) last year, so we can’t wait to be back in Portland after 2020 we missed the race. Certainly, there is a great Japanese community on the west coast and that’s a part of my fans that is great support and I always feel very loyal. I think we are very up for it, our road course performance is getting better all the time, and as I said it’s a special place, Portland, and it’s great to be back there so can’t wait to be back in Portland very soon.”

Graham Rahal in the No.15 Total Honda is hoping for a strong result this weekend following two difficult races here:

I’m excited to be back at Portland and really excited to be in the Total car. As most people know, our Total livery is a throwback to the ’86 Indy 500 winner so it’s all red and will look beautiful. Total has been a great partner and they’ve stuck with us through COVID, which was a tough year for them and they’ve been able to bounce back really well this year. I’m excited to represent Total Quartz there. Portland has not necessarily been the best place for me. We’ve actually always been relatively quick there however, I’ve not maximized qualifying or race days. I think in Indy car races as of late, I don’t know that I’ve actually completed a lap two years in a row. I’m excited to get back out there and start fresh, have a great result. I expect us to be very competitive. We found a lot of things at the Indy Grand Prix with the setup that we feel are going to work very well at Portland so we are excited to get out there and give it a shot and try to get the Total car up front.”


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