Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Takuma Sato is coming off a win in the Series last race at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. Sato is also the defending winner of the Grand Prix of Portland after winning there in 2018.
“It’s great to go back to Portland as the defending winner and also after having won in St. Louis,” said Sato. “The fans waited a long time for the return of IndyCar racing and I’m really honored to be the first winner for the new generation of races there. That was also the first win for me with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing so there are a lot of great memories and happy moments.”
Sato’s victory was the highlight of the day for RLL as Sato’s teammate Graham Rahal was an innocent victim of a first lap crash that took him out of the race.
“I love going to Portland, it’s a great race,” said Rahal. “Last year was not what we hoped for, we were pretty competitive last year, and I expect us to be pretty competitive again this year.”
Rahal said the picturesque 1.964-mile permanent road course is not like most road courses where if you make a mistake you can recover.
In 2018 there was a huge accident on the first lap coming exiting turn three that saw Marco Andretti go up and over a couple of cars.
“There is no margin for error to go fast there,” said Rahal. “Like all tracks, you’ve got to push it to the limit to get the most out of a lap, but there is a very fine line there between what is good and what is not at Portland. And there is not a lot of runoffs so the moment you drop a wheel, you’re really in the grass whereas a lot of other places have a little bit of margin.”
Josef Newgarden comes into the event as the points-leader with his Team Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud in second place, 38-points behind. Andretti Autosports Alexander Rossi is in third place, 46-points behind Newgarden. PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon, the five-time and defending series champion, sits in fourth place 70-points out of the top spot.
“We were able to maintain the points lead in Gateway, and that was a huge deal for us,” said Newgarden. “Now we focus on Portland. It’s a technical road course, so we’re really going to have to make sure we hit our marks to make sure we don’t lose any ground.”
“Portland is shaping up to be a super-exciting weekend,” said Pagenaud. “This is the part of the season that I love the most. It is down to the wire exciting racing and competing at our highest level. It’s time to shine.”
“Our mindset has changed a bit from being conservative on our strategy to putting it all out there,” said Rossi. “We have to get another win in order to head into the season finale with a fighting chance for the Astor Cup. We were very strong last year at Portland and could have potentially won, but an untimely yellow caught us out.”
Team Penske’s Will Power Wins GMR Grand Prix Pole Position
SPEEDWAY, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Will Power is on the Pole Position for Saturday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES GMR Grand Prix on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Power’s fast lap of 110.1779-seconds (125.116 mph) was good enough to earn the former series Champion the 58th pole position of his career.
“We left nothing on the table in that lap in the Verizon Chevrolet,” said Power. “I knew that (Jack) Harvey had a pretty good time up there, so we put our best set on for the last run, and I just gave it my all. Fortunately, it was enough.”
Power’s pole win spoiled a terrific lap by Meyer Shank Racing’s Jack Harvey (1:10.3653/124.783), who will start second in the SiriusXM/AutoNation Honda.
“I thought we were pretty good in practice one,” said Harvey. “Everybody at Meyer Shank Racing has been working their butt’s off to give us a really good car. The car clearly was really good to be on the front row, which we haven’t done before. We’re just really happy and hopefully will have a great race.”
Colton Herta will start in the third position after a fast-lap of 110.5197-seconds.
Graham Rahal will line up fourth in the No. 15 Fifth Third Bank Honda, his best qualifying effort in the GMR Grand Prix.
“The Fifth Third Bank car feels strong,” said Rahal. “We know we race better than we qualify so it’s a good start for us. We certainly didn’t have Will’s (Power) speed. We’ll take fourth and go race from there.”
Arrow McLaren SP rookie Oliver Askew will start fifth after a fast lap of 110.8404-seconds (123.946).
“We made some really good changes after the morning practice,” said Askew, the 2019 IndyLight’s Champion. “It was just flawless. I felt at one with the car and those are some really good feelings.”
Starting positions six through ten include two series Champions and a surprise or two.
Defending and two-time series Champion Josef Newgarden will start sixth after a tough start to his fast lap on the Firestone Red (Alternate) tires.
“I came out of the pits and just had a huge lock-up to start the lap going into the first corner,” said Newgarden. “It just kind of snuck up on me. It hadn’t done that all day.”
Fifth Third Bank Extends Partnership with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
BROWNSBURG, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Fifth Third Bank is extending their partnership with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing through the 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season.
Fifth Third Bank will be the primary sponsor of Graham Rahal’s No. 15 Honda at the GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Race 2 of the REV Group Grand Prix at Road America and the Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Fifth Third will also have an enhanced associate sponsor presence in key markets where the INDYCAR SERIES races including Indianapolis, Monterey California and St. Petersburg Florida.
“When this relationship began, I already had the utmost respect for Fifth Third Bank as a company,” said team co-owner Bobby Rahal. “As each year progresses, we continue to be inspired not only by how they conduct their business but also how they support the communities in which they service. Fifth Third Bank is able to uniquely leverage the partnership with RLL to enhance their commercial banking position with clients across the INDYCAR paddock.”
Fifth Third Bank first joined RLL in 2016 as an associate sponsor and the partnership has grown as the two organizations have continued to build up and pursue new collaborative business-to-business opportunities.
“Motorsports is such a vital part of the Indianapolis culture and as a corporate citizen Fifth Third Bank believes greatly in supporting the sport at the very heart of our state,” said Kevin Hipskind, Fifth Third Bank Regional President. “Our partnership with the elite Rahal Letterman Lanigan team continues to create even more opportunity for long-term community impact and meaningful business relationships for the Bank. We look forward to three more heart-racing years of collaboration and an exciting NTT INDYCAR SERIES ahead.”
The 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES resumes on Saturday July 4th with the GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. The event is part of a historic INDYCAR/NASCAR tripleheader at the Brickyard.
Citrone/Buhl Autosport with RLL Getting Ready For Debut At GMR Grand Prix At Indy
BROWNSBURG, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Citrone/Buhl Autosport with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) is getting ready for their debut at the GMR Grand Prix, July 4th on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back in an INDYCAR at the GMR Grand Prix,” said Spencer Pigot, driver of the No. 45 Citrone/Buhl Autosport with RLL Honda. “It’s obviously been a very different season this year so it’s exciting that we’re finally getting back to racing at IMS.”
The team announced on Tuesday that Shield Cleansers will server as the co-primary sponsor along with Mi-Jack. Shield Cleansers is a new product line for RLL team partner Digital Ally, a company that develops, manufactures and markets advanced video recording and other critical safety products for law enforcement, emergency management, fleet safety and security.
“We’re thrilled to not only continue, but expand our relationship with RLL,” said Stan Ross, CEO of Digital Ally. “We can think of no better opportunity to spread the word about our highly effective, less harsh, cleanser line.”
Shield Cleansers, which launched earlier this month, includes a disinfectant/sanitizer that is less harsh than many of the traditional products now widely distributed.
Hypochlorous Acid (HOCI) is the active ingredient of Shield Cleansers. HOCI falls under EPA category IV, which is the safest of the EPA’s toxicity categories. While highly effective as a disinfectant and sanitizer, cleaning crews are not required to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when applying and reapplying HOCI.
Also featured on the No. 45 car is EMBRACE Pittsburgh, which you may remember seeing on the virtual No. 45 Honda during the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge. EMBRACE Pittsburgh is a powerful movement conceived and driven by Citrone 33 with the goal of championing mental strength throughout the Pittsburgh region. Program resources include many “skills and drills” focused on learning to reduce daily stress, and to be mindful, empathetic, and accepting of yourself and others.
This will be the second race of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season but it will be the first road course race. Pigot’s best finish on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course was fifth with Ed Carpenter Racing in 2019.
“Originally the first race for us was going to be about half-way through the season but with the schedule changes it’s going to be the first road course race of the year,” said Pigot. “I think that will be an advantage for us as everyone will be on more of a level playing field. We have a great group so the plan is to hit the ground running and be competitive right away.”
The GMR Grand Prix takes place Saturday, July 4 and will be televised live by NBC with race coverage beginning at 12 p.m. ET. The event is part of the historic INDYCAR/NASCAR Doubleheader.