Graham Rahal, in the No.15 Core 3 Associates Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda, scored his first pole position in six years for today’s Gallagher Grand Prix on the IMS road course.
Speaking following qualifying, Rahal, who set a time of 01:10.1132s commented saying:
We were on the front row at Mid-Ohio but to be on pole isn’t something im not known for so to be able to put it together and get ourselves a great shot to go win tomorrow means the world to me. I certainly can sleep a little easier tonight Its not a win but it feels like it. We knocked on the door at Mid-Ohi but to be here this time around and put Code 3 Associates on the pole means the world to me. And also for these guys who have busted their butts all year. They deserve it.
“It’s truly good to be able to just translate what we had in practice, to make it improve to qualifying. Frankly, the very first Q1, I think we were still P2 or 3, but I was not pleased at all with the car. Even in Q2 we were P1, but it was just a terrible lap. That’s always a good sign. It’s nice to be able to feel that way. It’s been a long, long time since I felt very in control, could make it happen when we needed to, put it together. Q3, was really tricky, frankly. My brake pedal was really, really long through all of qualifying, which it was this morning, too. We bled them. I thought it was going to be better. It wasn’t. I locked a few times in Q3. Kind of released the pedal and hoped it stuck, and it worked out. It’s awfully nice to be able to have the Code 3 Associates car up front, to be able to go challenge from there with some clear road ahead. We’ll see how the start goes and things like that. But clear road ahead. We’ll see how it plays out. (On not qualifying for the Indy 500 in May:) You move on from May as best you can. There’s a lot of frequent reminders about what happened there, not only in qualifying, but the car not running at the start of the race, things like that. Those are things that build character. I haven’t told many people this, but when I got back to my phone after May, after qualifying, the very first voice mail I had was from Al Unser Jr. You see somebody like him who’s been here, who’s won here, but he’s also seen the lows of the low. The best have went through it. Definitely seeing his name on my phone lifted my spirits a lot. You come back here, this is a totally different rodeo, but it still means a lot. To be able to run up front, as our team, too, Christian right next to me, Jack just missing out on Q3. We’ve been strong here on the road course. It’s nice that it’s me, not the roles reversed. Hopefully we can translate that into a heck of a good day tomorrow.
“I don’t know what it is about Indy, but we all talk about it as a living being, that it kind of writes its own story. I say it every year: in this large book that’s gone on a hundred-plus years now, a lot of people have had the chance to have their chapter. Some people like Helio have several in the book. You just hope it’s your time. Clearly this weekend is very different than the 500, but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t carry a lot of significance and importance to our team and to me personally.”
Christian Lundgaard in the No.45 Hy-Vee Honda starts the race from second place and speaking after setting a 01:10.2286s he commented saying:
“We are strong here. Graham was strong already this morning. Every time we come to this race track, we know we’ll be able to fight for a win. Now we’ve just given ourselves two chances. In that matter, I think it’s all about executing tomorrow. We’ve proven that we can do it on one-lap pace. We struggled in the May race on the consistency throughout a stint, the strategy decision making. Now we have two opportunities to make up for it. I think it all starts with the car is really competitive around here. We’ve shown it every single time we’ve been on track. I don’t necessarily think it’s just me that’s in the team. I mean, I just got out-qualified by Graham. Technically everybody did. He’s just been really, really strong and difficult to beat today. I think certainly there was some small mistakes that I could have prevented to jump ahead. Right now we put ourselves in a good position, so I’m not going to sit here and say I’m mad about qualifying second because I’m certainly not.
“Honestly, it’s a very similar qualifying compared to the May race. We were first, fourth and eighth, now we’re first, second and eighth. Graham definitely took a step forward compared to May. I mean, it is a little bittersweet not getting the pole, but at the same time I would rather finish first tomorrow than finish first today. As a team, we’ve given ourselves the best opportunity to win the race tomorrow. We have two cars starting on the front row. I think the last time that happened was in Barber 2018 when Sato won and Graham had an issue. I hope none of us have an issue tomorrow, but I hope we can fight for the win and may the best man win, really.”
“I know that Graham will be tough to beat. We’ll have to beat him by just out-smarting him. How we’re going to do that is something I’ll have to figure out really. But we’re definitely going to give each other — we’re going to race hard and race fair. I’m not going to sit here and say he will be favored, because I don’t think he will be, because I’ll give him a tough time.”
Jack Harvey in the No.30 Kustom Entertainment Honda starts the race from eighth place with a time of 01:10.2228s and speaking following the action he commented saying:
We missed it (progressing to Round 3) by a tiny bit. On black tires and our used tire pace actually looked pretty good. We just missed a little bit of raw speed on the alternates today and just a tiny bit of imbalance. But two-hundredths (of a second) is nearly nothing but we were just on the wrong side of it today. And we’ve got to take that engine penalty now on the chin and try and have as good of a race as we can tomorrow.”