Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL)
1 POLE, 1 PODIUM, 2 FRONT ROW STARTS IN NINE EVENTS AT TMS FOR RLL RACING The Firestone 550 will mark the 10th for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway oval. The team’s highest start of POLE with Scott Sharp came in 2007 and highest finish of SECOND came in 2005 with Vitor Meira. The team earned another front row start in 2004 when Buddy Rice qualified second. Prior to the 2012 event, the team prepared a total of 16 entries for drivers such as Kenny Brack (2003 x2), Buddy Rice (2004 x2; 2005, 2006), Vitor Meira (2004 x2; 2005), Danica Patrick (2005, 2006), Jeff Simmons (2007), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2008) and Jay Howard (2011, Schmidt/RLL). The team has earned three top-five finishes and six top-10’s at the track. The No. 15 entry for Takuma Sato will bring that total to 17 in 2012.
RLL HOPES TO AGAIN CONTEND FOR THE WIN IN THE SECOND OVAL RACE OF THE SEASON The only other oval race run so far in the 2012 season was the Indy 500 on May 27 and Takuma Sato led the third most laps at 31. He pulled alongside eventual winner Dario Franchitti in Turn 1 on the final lap to take the lead but lack of traction led to a crash and he finished 17th.
SATO EARNED HIS HIGHEST OVAL FINISH OF FIFTH AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY LAST YEAR The Firestone 550 at TMS will mark Sato’s third time to compete here. Last year he earned his best IndyCar Series oval finish of fifth in Race 1 after starting fourth. He drew the 25th starting position in Race 2 and finished 12th. He started 11th and retired in 25th in 2010 after contact.
SATO ON THE TEAM’S COMPETITIVENESS AT INDY TRANSFERING TO THE SECOND OVAL OF THE SEASON “Although Indianapolis and Texas will be quite a lot different, there are number of the things we can translate as a generic oval setup so I expect we will have a strong package at Texas too.”
SATO ON THE CHALLENGES OF THIS WEEKEND’S RACE AT TMS “We will have a different aero package at TMS and we haven't run that yet so to find the best performance from that package in a short amount of time will be a challenge.”
SATO ON THE TYPE OF RACE HE’S EXPECTING WITH THE DW12 AT TMS FOR THE FIRST TIME “There should be less downforce as it's a different concept from last year, so we should see less pack racing and more separation through the field. However, as we saw at the Indy 500, the DW12 will create many overtaking possibilities so it will be a very challenging and exciting race.”
SATO ON HIS SERIES BEST OVAL FINISH OF FIFTH PLACE AT TMS LAST YEAR “It was really an exciting race with a lot of side-by-side racing the whole way through the field and I enjoyed it. The second race was quite challenging and difficult as I had to start from the back of the grid but overall I had good races.”
SATO’S SEASON TO DATE Sato has run competitively in all races to date this season although his 13th place rank in series standings with a total of 112 points does not reflect that performance. He is only 64 points out of the top five (5th: Hinchcliffe 176 pts.). He led three of six races to date and ran as high as second and sixth in two others but has only seen the checkered flag in Brazil where he finished third. Of the five races he failed to finish, two were mechanical failures, one was the result of “avoidable contact” by Hunter-Reay (Long Beach while third), and he retired due to contact in another two (Indy while attempting to win from second place on the final lap; launched into wall after hitting the curb in Detroit).