Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal in the No.15 Total Honda goes into this weekend’s NTT IndyCar Series race at Pocono Raceway for the ABC Supply 500 off the back of a ninth place finish in the Honda Indy 200 at the Mid Ohio sports car course.
Speaking ahead of the race this weekend he said:
“I always look forward to the challenge of racing at Pocono. I think we have had some great runs in the past there but haven’t been able to fulfill and complete the task. Two or three years ago, Kanaan and I changed the lead every lap for about 40 laps so it can certainly be an exciting race. This year we showed at Indianapolis that we have great pace and had a really good result at Texas Motor Speedway. I think we found a lot of good setup information on ovals and I expect us to be competitive. Last year at Pocono I made a mistake on the start and hit Spencer but once the race got going, we were actually right in line and running with Rossi. We stayed with him for all 500 miles which was a good sign that at least our car was competitive. We were a couple of laps down due to the penalty, but we were in the hunt.”
Takuma Sato who finished in 18th place in Mid-Ohio commented on this weekend’s race saying:
We were in pretty good shape last year despite no testing before the race and very little running time on the race weekend due to weather. My race ended very early but Graham had a strong pace during the race so we should have a good baseline. On top of that, we have been very strong on ovals this season so we are expecting to have a competitive package in Pocono too.”
Graham Rahal spoke about the increased competitiveness on oval races this season saying:
“The engineering staff has done a great job identifying how we need to be better on ovals. We have worked hard on tracks like Indianapolis that can also benefit Pocono. The attention to detail by our mechanics is unparalleled too, and there is no doubt that helps us a lot! I feel this is likely our best chance yet for success at Pocono, but we need to be smart and race well. The SIM test should be beneficial. Honda has provided us with a great tool to use and I think we found some great stuff. Having said that, we always need to be smart and diagnose what really worked and what didn’t. So we will put our heads down and find a way to be at our best.”
Takuma Sato said:
“It is very encouraging that we have been competitive on all type of ovals. We have learned a lot through last season as well as the engineers have come up with a new philosophy over the winter so we have a great chance to recover good points for the rest the season. The race will be very long and 500 miles so it’s difficult to predict but equally we have a lot of chance to deliver a good result.”
Graham Rahal discussed the final four races of the season saying:
“People are used to us qualifying average and racing extremely well and actually this year we have qualified quite well at a lot of places. Look at Barber. Nobody was going to touch either of our two cars but we had a battery explode and I don’t think anyone had ever heard of that in our series. We were also really good on race day in Indianapolis and had a good race at Texas. There have been a lot of places where we have had great potential but it just hasn’t come together. We’ve had some bad luck and missed some opportunities. Toronto was a huge opportunity. Our car on race day was amazing. We got ourselves back into the top-nine to finish but after the contact (on L1 from Power) but I’ve never had a day where literally I could catch a car and pass it on the next straightaway and that’s how Toronto was. Everyone has worked hard within our organization and we continue to evolve. We have made a big step from last year and have been in the hunt a lot but just haven’t been able to close the deal. It will turn around soon. I want to get into the top-five of the standings by season’s end. We should be able to, just need some good results. We really need a win; we can do it.”
Takuma Sato spoke about his last five races saying:
It was a tough five races we had. Some was very unfortunate but the positive side is we were competitive every weekend so we will continue to work hard to achieve a strong finish of the season. We believe the SIM will help us have a good baseline for Pocono. We have tried several test items that show good potential. Pocono is quite a unique oval and closing the balance between Turn 1 and Turn 3 is very important as well as challenging and we think we have improved our 2019 set-up. We will see how the performance is on track.