Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal in the No.15 Hy-Vee Honda is looking forward to this weekend’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Worldwide Technology Raceway and believes that the team are well prepared for the final oval race of the season.
I think the team is super-well prepared this year. “Actually we gained a lot of information last fall from an engineer that came and worked for us a little bit so we’ve got some data to look at and some stuff to understand on what went right and what went wrong. Our weekend on the 15 car was terrible last year, obviously we started at the very back on both days. Sunday, actually we were much more competitive, the problem was Sunday it was too late. We started at the back, to be able to pass was difficult because it was in the heat of the day versus this time around we’re on Saturday night. I anticipate a lot better racing, a lot better action for the fans.
“Last year as well, on the first day we got a napkin stuck in the CCU which is the clutch control unit, and it overheated the car so we had to come to pit lane and stop because the shifting wouldn’t work and so on which was difficult and disappointing. This time around though I think that we’ve learned a lot and we still have some preparation to go before we get there on the weekend.”
Takuma Sato in the No.30 Panasonic Honda is looking forward to this weekend’s race where last season he took pole for race 2 and finished second while in 2019 he won. Speaking about the race this weekend, Sato said:
The Bommarito 500 is this weekend and it’s the only short oval event for this season. I love it, I always enjoy driving at Gateway. It’s such a challenging little track. Turn 1 and 2 is high banking but the corner radius is quite tight so you require the brake every single lap, even in qualifying. Turn 3 and 4 is more flattish so it’s much less banking, but apparently the same as Indianapolis but it doesn’t look that way. It used to be flat in qualifying, but today with the reduction of downforce, certainly last year it wasn’t the case. So, it was a great satisfaction when we got on pole last year, it was just really challenging. Last year we nearly won the race, came in second after the Indy 500 win which was fantastic. The boys did an amazing job and we started on pole too for the second race. The second race was difficult, it’s more of a track-position race, it was difficult to overtake due to some conditions that were different from race one.
Speaking about the race this weekend being a one-day show, Graham Rahal commented saying:
“It’s a one day show. “I’ve been asking for these for many years and the biggest reason for that is because of the fans. I think on a one day show for the fans there’s a ton of action. We practice, go right into qualifying, then right into the race. They get it all right in front of them at one time. I think that is an awesome way to go, so I’m glad to see that Curtis, Chris, Declan, the entire group at World Wide Technology Raceway have brought this on. But it’s going to be busy, and I think it puts a lot of pressure on us as a team. I think that we are prepared. We’re ready to go and eager to go. Being with where we are in the championship we could use a great result, we could use a win – everyone knows that. So hopefully we’re able to get that done. I expect a lot more out of us as a team, I expect a lot more out of myself, I expect a lot more out of the handling and balance of the car so hopefully we can find a way to go forward.”
Speaking about the challenge of competing in a day event Takuma Sato said:
“This year I think it will be quite tough as a single day event. “About noon we have practice, then qualifying in late afternoon, and then evening we have a race. So, it’s going to be quite compressed and important to have a competitive car straight away. I think we’ve done a good preparation, we have a very good race car as a base setup.”
Graham Rahal is ranked sixth in NTT INDYCAR SERIES point standings with 286 and is -41 points from fifth-place Marcus Ericsson while Takuma Sato is 11th with a total of 251 and speaking ahead of the race this weekend, Rahal said:
“At this point in the season, it’s really important that we are on top of our game. “We’re sixth in points, kind of holding serve again. We had a good result last weekend in Indy but we need to get a win if we are going to find ourselves in the top three which is going to be difficult but even creeping into the top-five with Marcus having won a couple times would be good. Obviously, we are still fending off guys like Colton and Simon and so on, so we need to have a really great result. I think Josef is within striking distance, I know that Marcus is within striking distance, so there are guys that we can get, and we need to put our heads down and make it happen.