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2018 St. Pete: Rahal Letterman Lanigan IndyCar Practice Recap
Posted by: newsla on Mar 10, 2018 - 03:54 PM
IndyCar Weekend Team Reports
2018 St. Pete: Rahal Letterman Lanigan IndyCar Practice Recap


1) Ryan Hunter-Reay 1:00.8295 / 106.527 mph

10) Takuma Sato 1:01.3491 / 105.625 mph

20) Graham Rahal 1:01.9993 / 104.517 mph

GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 United Rentals Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “We went down a path in testing at Sebring and unfortunately Sebring is a high grip circuit, which we knew, and I think it just misled us. I fully believe that overnight we will find some changes and get ourselves pointed in a much-better position. We are struggling with the rear of the car which is very strange. We did at our first test as well but in general I think it hasn’t been an issue to this magnitude. We have a lot of work to do. Obviously Taku did a good job putting a lap in and I just didn’t. We are going back to the drawing board for tomorrow and make the United Rentals car quicker. ”

· FAST FACTS: Will make his 11th Indy car start at this track. His best start here is pole in 2009 and best finish is a win in 2008 in his IndyCar Series debut – both history-making moments. In 2017, he started 10th and passed Rossi and Kimball on the opening lap but contact with Kimball in Turn 3 led to a punctured right rear as well as damage to his sidepod and rear wing. He pit for tires and the team assessed the damage and once he got back on track he went a lap down. Once he was cleared to pit for full service, the team changed the rear wing and he returned to the track in 19th place. He moved into 18th when Pigot had an issue on Lap 29 and then late in the race moved into 17th when Power was black flagged for driving too slow... In 2016, he qualified seventh but started sixth after pole sitter Will Power was replaced by Oriol Servia due to a mild concussion and Servia started from the back of the field. After a mid-race return to green conditions, he was running eighth, but sixth on the same fuel strategy, when Carlos Munoz dove into Turn 4 and hit him from behind which set off a pileup of more than eight cars that blocked the turn. Once he was restarted, he had to pit for a new front and rear wing and ran 21st. Munoz was penalized for “avoidable contact.” Rahal moved up to a 16th place finish... In 2015, he started 15th and gained three spots on the first lap and ran as high as fifth place midway through the race but was penalized for “avoidable contact” after he made contact while trying to pass the damaged car of Charlie Kimball. He dropped to the back of the field and ultimately finished 11th... In 2014, the start of qualifying was delayed over three hours after an afternoon storm. Rahal was in Group 1 that ran on a wet track on rain tires. Conditions improved as each of the three rounds took place and teams switched to “slick” tires. Rahal lost control of the car on the slick course and made contact with a tire barrier which brought out a red flag. His two fastest laps were omitted, one of which was sixth fastest and would have allowed him to progress to Round 2 and start in the top-12. On the opening lap, Rahal charged from his 21st place starting spot to 12th and was in 14th when he made his first pit stop. Different pit strategies played out in a race that saw only 10 caution laps of 110 total. In the closing laps of the race, Rahal was 13th but lost a position to Bourdais with two laps to go and finished 14th… He qualified 15th in 2013 for RLL and was in ninth place when the team discovered an electrical issue on Lap 22 under caution that shut the engine off intermittently 6-7 times and dropped him to 21st place. He soldiered on to finish 13th... He qualified 11th in 2012 and finished 12th and qualified 12th in 2011 and finished 17th – both for Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR)… He qualified 16th and finished 9th for Sarah Fisher Racing in 2010... While with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, he won pole in 2009 and finished seventh and in 2008 he qualified ninth, led 19 laps and won in his series debut at the age of 19 years, 93 days old... Has six IndyCar Series wins (2008 – St. Pete street course; 2015 – Fontana Super Speedway, Mid-Ohio road course; 2016 – Texas Super Speedway; 2017 Detroit Race 1, Detroit Race 2) and three poles (2009 – St. Pete street course, Kansas oval; 2017 – Detroit Race 1 street) and his highest series season-ending standing is fourth place in 2015.

TAKUMA SATO, No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “It always feels great to get on track for the opening race of the season. I love the atmosphere of St. Petersburg. There are already a lot of fans here on a Friday; it’s fantastic. We didn’t quite have as good of a first session as we wanted. A few things about the car were a little bit unexpected. Practice 1, I couldn’t do as many laps as I wanted. The second practice was a good improvement. We still need to work hard on some things but hopefully we can improve again for tomorrow.”

· FAST FACTS: Will be Takuma’s ninth race here. In eight races his best start is pole in 2014 with AJ Foyt Racing (AFR) and best finish is fifth place in 2011 with KV Racing. He started in the top-five in four of eight races and earned two, top-five and five, top-10 finishes. Last year, he started and finished fifth for Andretti Autosport and led two laps. In 2016, he qualified 11th, started 10th after Servia replaced polesitter Power and finished sixth for AFR. In 2015, he started fifth and finished 13th for AFR. He won pole in 2014, led 33 laps and finished seventh and started second and finished eighth in 2013 – both with AFR. With RLL in 2012, he qualified 15th and retired in 22nd after an electrical failure. In 2011, he qualified 11th and finished fifth and in his first race here in 2010, he qualified 11th and retired in 22nd after contact – both races with KV. After earning his best season-ending finish of eight place in 2017, Takuma is excited about the opportunity to start the season strong after productive off season testing.

NEXT UP: Practice will take place tomorrow from 11:10-11:55 a.m. ET and qualifying is 2:20-3:35 PM. Timing and Scoring information and live streaming video is available for all sessions from www.indycar.com. The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be televised live on ABC at 12:30 PM ET Sunday, March 11.

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