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2018 Toronto: Rahal Letterman Lanigan IndyCar Race Preview
Posted by: newsla on Jul 11, 2018 - 06:54 AM
IndyCar Weekend Team Reports
2018 Toronto: Rahal Letterman Lanigan IndyCar Race Preview


NEWS & NOTES:

FIVE PODIUMS AND ONE POLE IN TORONTO FOR RLL

 
The Honda Indy Toronto will mark the 19th year of Indy car racing for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) here. The team also competed in the Atlantic Series races here in 2003 and 2004. The team earned a total of four second place finishes (Rahal 1992, 1994, 1995; Michel Jourdain Jr. 2003) and best start was pole in 1992 by Bobby Rahal. Prior to the 2018 event, the team prepared a total of 31 Indy car entries for drivers Bobby Rahal (1992-98), Mike Groff (1994), Raul Boesel (1995), Bryan Herta (1996-99), Max Papis (1999-2001), Jimmy Vasser (2002), Michel Jourdain Jr. (2002-03), Takuma Sato (2012), Graham Rahal (2013 x 2; 2014 x2; 2015-2017), James Jakes (2013 x 2) and Luca Filippi (2014 x2). RLL also prepared three Toyota Atlantic entries (Danica Patrick 2003-2004; Chris Festa 2004). In total, the team has earned FIVE podiums (3rd - Rahal 1996), 9 top-fiveís and 19 top-10 finishes at the track. The No. 15 Rousseau Metal entry for Graham Rahal and No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic entry for Takuma Sato will bring the Indy car total to 33 entries in 2018.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY AFTER STARTING 2ND IN 2017 FOR RAHAL - RACE REWIND

In 2017, Graham earned his best start in Toronto to date of second place. On the start, he had a run on pole sitter Simon Pagenaud and went on the outside as third place Helio Castroneves went on the inside and passed both cars. Points leader Scott Dixon and frontrunner Will Power made contact behind Rahal with Dixon needing to pit and Power ultimately retiring therefore it looked to be a good opportunity to make up some ground in the title fight. While Rahal was still third with the top-three pulling away, Tony Kanaan made contact on Lap 23 and fourth place runner Josef Newgarden was able to dive into the pits before the Full Course Caution came out and closed them. Once the pits opened, the front runners made their stops after that and Rahal rejoined the race in 16th place. Late in the race he ran 10th but was able to pass Sebastien Saavedra for ninth before the checkered flag. Newgarden won with Alexander Rossi and James Hinchcliffe, who both pit right before Kanaanís caution, finishing second and third. Rahal is hoping for another competitive weekend in Toronto with a better end result.

"It looked like we were going to have a good race last year after starting second. The Rousseau Metal car was solid. We just got really hosed by a yellow that basically put Helio, Pagenaud and myself to the back and we were the lead three so obviously that ruined our day. The car was pretty good though, there were no major complaints. Were we good enough to beat Helio (Castroneves) or (Simon) Pagenaud on that day if we didnít get hosed by that yellow? I donít think so but we were certainly a podium contender so it was disappointing not to make it all happen. Iím excited to go back. If I look at our street course performances so far, itís our strongest package. Hopefully we can just make it happen. Right now we need to get a win and get need to get some points."

GRAHAM RAHAL AT TORONTO

The 2018 Honda Indy Toronto will be Graham Rahalís 13th Indy car race here and 14th overall (Atlantic 2006). In 12 Indy car races, his best start of second came last year and best finish of fifth came in 2010 with Newman/Haas Racing. He has three, top-five starts and four, top-10 finishes. More details available upon request.

"The Honda Indy Toronto is an iconic event in our sport. There is always great crowd support. Nowadays with Hinch (James Hinchcliffe) and with Robbie, I fully expect there to be a ruckus crowd as usual. Hopefully we can go up there and try to spoil their dreams. They repaved a couple of sections which is good, it was needed. I donít think itís going to transform the place so it will still be textbook Toronto."

TAKUMA SATO HOPES TO CARRY MOMENTUM OF FOURTH AND THIRD PLACE FINISHES TO TORONTO

This will be Takumaís 11th race here. In his 10 previous races, his best start is eighth in 2015 and his best finish is fifth in 2016 and Race 2 in 2014 - all with A.J. Foyt Racing. He has four top-10 finishes. Takuma has finished no lower than seventh place in four of the last five races dating back to fifth place in Dual 1 of Detroit and finished the past two races fourth (Road America) and third (Iowa Speedway). He is looking forward to the opportunity to continue the momentum at the Honda Indy Toronto.

"Iím very excited to go back to Toronto. We think we have a good car for a street course and itís the final street course of the season so I really want to have a strong race and I think we can. We have good momentum right now so I hope we can continue in Toronto. Itís a challenging track."

TAKUMA ON ROAD AND STREET COURSES

Since the season-opener, Sato has had competitive runs on road and street courses but just needs better luck. After starting fifth in St. Pete, he was hit by an airborne Scott Dixon, was sixth when he and Ryan Hunter-Reay made contact in Long Beach and was hit by an airborne Spencer Pigot on the opening lap at the Indy Grand Prix. He finished eight, fifth and fourth, respectively in Barber, Detroit (Dual 1) and Road America. If he can have a trouble-free race, he stands a good chance of a strong finish as he has proven as of late. Takuma is expecting another exciting race on the city streets.

"Toronto is probably one of the bumpiest tracks of the season and is also challenging because the track surface changes multiple times in one corner, from asphalt to concrete. On the engineering side and the driverís side, itís always very challenging because no matter what setup you apply, the cars go all over the place. However, itís a good track. There is a long straight followed by heavy braking which gives the drivers opportunity for overtaking and make the race exciting for the drivers and the spectators. The weather usually is great but it can be sketchy which adds another factor and another reason why the Toronto race is always exciting."

TAKUMA ON SUPPORT WHILE AT THE HONDA INDY TORONTO

"Toronto is great. Itís a metropolitan city but there are a lot of Japanese communities there as well and Honda Canada makes a huge commitment for the race so we always have great support from them too. I love Toronto. There are great restaurants, a great downtown area and enthusiastic fans which make the Honda Indy a great venue for the IndyCar Series. Iím looking forward to it."

THE CHAMPIONSHIP BATTLE

With six races yet to be run this season, including one that is worth double points (Sonoma), Rahal is tied for sixth in series point standings with Robert Wickens with a total of 304 and Sato is 12th with 237. Leader Scott Dixon has 411, second place Josef Newgarden has 378, third place Alexander Rossi has 370, fourth place Ryan Hunter-Reay has 359 and fifth place Will Power has 358.



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