Ferrucci Returns to RLL for Music City Grand Prix

Photo from RLL Twitter accountSantino Ferrucci returns to the number 45 car at Nashville. Despite only appearing in handful of races, the 45 is in contention for the Leaders’ Circle, which awards the top 22 entrants at the end of the year. Ferrucci has finished in the top ten in each of his four Indycar races this season.

From Rahal Letterman Racing:

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (July 19, 2021) – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) announced today that Santino Ferrucci will return to the team to compete in the No. 45 Hy-Vee entry at the inaugural Music City Grand Prix of Nashville, August 6-8. Hy-Vee, Inc. – an employee-owned supermarket chain that operates more than 280 retail stores across eight Midwestern states – is the primary sponsor of Graham Rahal’s entry for two races this season as well as a full season associate and was the primary sponsor of Ferrucci’s car at the Indy 500, doubleheader races in Detroit and the Mid-Ohio event.

At the Indy 500, Ferrucci piloted the No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda to his third straight top-seven finish with a sixth-place result, finished sixth in Race 1 and tenth in Race 2 in Detroit and ninth at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

“I’m super excited to be back driving for RLL and Hy-Vee,” said Santino Ferrucci. “It’s going to be an incredible race as it’s our first time racing in the streets of Nashville. The track has an incredible layout that has us racing over a bridge. I have been to the track before on a scooter so I at least know a little about the layout. I’m excited to get the chance to continue with consistent top-10 finishes for the team but I definitely think we can challenge for a win if the weekend goes smoothly.”

“Our partnership with the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team has continued to bring excitement to our employees and customers,” said Randy Edeker, Chairman, CEO and President of Hy-Vee. “We look forward to teaming up with Santino Ferrucci again to drive the No. 45 Hy-Vee entry in Nashville.”

Hy-Vee first joined the team as the primary sponsor of Graham Rahal’s entry for Race 2 at the Iowa Speedway in 2020 where he finished third. The company was also the primary sponsor of the team’s entry for Spencer Pigot at the Indy 500 and an associate sponsor of Rahal’s entry for the legendary race. In 2021, they have been a primary sponsor at five races: the Indy 500, Detroit Grand Prix doubleheader and Mid-Ohio races with Ferrucci and at Road America with Rahal.

After two full INDYCAR SERIES seasons in 2019-2020 and a partial one in 2018, Ferrucci joined RLL for the Indy 500 and the Detroit Grand Prix races. To date, his best Indy car start is second place at Mid-Ohio (Race 2) in 2020 and he has finished in fourth place four times. In 2021, Ferrucci competes part-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, driving for Sam Hunt Racing.

The 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season continues with the Music City Grand Prix of Nashville which will be broadcast live on NBCSN on August 8 at 4:30 p.m. EDT. All future on-track action can be seen on NBC, NBCSN or NBC’s Peacock Premium streaming service. For more information about the series or team, visit http://www.indycar.com and http://www.rahal.com.

About Hy-Vee, Inc.
Hy-Vee, Inc. is an employee-owned corporation operating more than 280 retail stores across eight Midwestern states with sales of $11 billion annually. The supermarket chain is synonymous with quality, variety, convenience, healthy lifestyles, culinary expertise and superior customer service. Hy-Vee ranks in the Top 10 Most Trusted Brands and has been named one of America’s Top 5 favorite grocery stores. The company’s more than 85,000 employees provide “A Helpful Smile in Every Aisle” to customers every day. For additional information, visit www.hy-vee.com.

Photo by Joe Skibinski, Indycar

About Santino Ferrucci
Ferrucci began his karting career at age five and was a multi-time champion by age 11 and was featured in an article in GQ magazine on being a karting prodigy. He also competed in six Formula 2000 races, never finishing worse than fourth in any race. In 2013 he competed in the Skip Barber Racing Series, winning his debut race at Homestead and collecting five wins, two poles and three fastest laps. His career took him to England in 2014 where he competed in British Formula 3, winning two races – both at Brands Hatch, which made him the youngest winner in British Formula 3 history at 16 years, 2 months and 30 days. In 2015, he finished third in the Toyota Racing Series New Zealand with a win and five podium finishes and also competed in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. In 2016, he competed in the GP3 Series as a rookie with DAMS with a best finish of third place at Spa-Francorchamps and joined Haas F1 as a test driver for a July test at Silverstone and became the first American driver to test an American F1 car since 1977. He also made his sports car debut that year, winning his first race in the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo North America event at Circuit of The Americas. In 2017, he continued his role as a development driver with Haas F1, testing at Hungaroring in August. He also made six GP3 starts with DAMS before moving to FIA Formula 2 with Trident. In 2018, he competed in FIA Formula 2 with Team Trident, scoring a best finish of sixth at Baku and served as a Haas F1 development driver for a third consecutive season. He also made his debut in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES for Dale Coyne Racing in 2018 with a best finish of 11th at the season-finale at Sonoma and competed in a total of four events (Detroit doubleheader, Portland). In 2019, he competed in the full INDYCAR SERIES season and finished 13th in series standings for Dale Coyne Racing with a best finish of fourth at Texas, Pocono and World Wide Technology Raceway. He was named Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year after an impressive performance en route to a seventh-place finish. Ferrucci returned for his second full season in the series in 2020 with Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan with a best finish of fourth place in the Indy 500 and 13th place, season-ending rank. Always open to new challenges, Ferrucci currently competes part-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, driving for Sam Hunt Racing.

About Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, based in Hilliard, Ohio and Brownsburg, Ind., is co-owned by three-time
IndyCar Champion and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, former CBS Late Show host David Letterman and Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan. In 2021, the team begins its 30th year of competition and will attempt to add to its 29 Indy car wins – including the 2004 Indy 500 from pole with Buddy Rice and the 2020 Indy 500 with Takuma Sato — their 33 poles, 107 podium finishes and 1992 series championship.  The team also competed in the American Le Mans Series from 2009-2013 as BMW Team RLL where they won both the Manufacturer and Team Championships in the GT category in 2010 and swept all three GT titles in 2011 – Manufacturer, Team and Driver. In 2012, the team finished second in the Team Championship and third in the Manufacturer Championship and in 2013, the team finished second in the Driver, Team and Manufacturer Championship. Since 2014, BMW Team RLL has competed in the GTLM class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with a two-car program and has brought their total to 22 wins – including the 2019 and 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona endurance races, 28 poles and 91 podium finishes as well as a second-place finish in the Manufacturer, Team and Driver championships in 2015 and 2017. The team was also the 2020 Michelin Endurance Champions. For 2021, the team will compete for back-to-back Michelin Endurance Championships.

Ferrucci Returns with RLL at Mid Ohio

The release from RLL this afternoon:

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (June 28, 2021) – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) announced today that Santino Ferrucci will return to the team to compete in the No. 45 Hy-Vee entry at the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, July 2-4. Hy-Vee, Inc. – an employee-owned supermarket chain that operates more than 280 retail stores across eight Midwestern states – is the primary sponsor of Graham Rahal’s entry for two races this season as well as a full season associate and was the primary sponsor of Ferrucci’s car at the Indy 500 and doubleheader races in Detroit.

At the Indy 500, Ferrucci piloted the No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda to his third straight top-seven finish with a sixth-place result and finished sixth in Race 1 in Detroit and tenth in Race 2.

“I’m super excited to return to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing to race the Hy-Vee entry at Mid-Ohio,” said Santino Ferrucci, whose highest career INDYCAR qualifying position is second place in Race 2 at Mid-Ohio in 2020. “It’s been a great track for me in the past and last year I started on the front row. I’ve always enjoyed the track and its fans. I cannot wait to be working with the team again and continuing our relationship and our growth as the season moves forward. Hopefully we can get the Hy-Vee car into the top five and on the podium!”

“We look forward to having Santino Ferrucci drive the No. 45 Hy-Vee entry in this weekend’s race,” said Randy Edeker, Chairman, CEO and President of Hy-Vee. “Santino and the entire Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team care about their fans just like we care about our customers at Hy-Vee. Plus, the excitement Santino brings to the course keeps us on the edge of our seats and we can’t wait to see how he performs at the Honda Indy 200.”

Hy-Vee first joined the team as the primary sponsor of Graham Rahal’s entry for Race 2 at the Iowa Speedway in 2020 where he finished third. The company was also the primary sponsor of the team’s entry for Spencer Pigot at the Indy 500 and an associate sponsor of Rahal’s entry for the legendary race. In 2021, they have been a primary sponsor at four races: the Indy 500 and Detroit Grand Prix doubleheader with Ferrucci and at Road America with Rahal.

After two full INDYCAR SERIES seasons in 2019-2020 and a partial one in 2018, Ferrucci joined RLL for the Indy 500 and the Detroit Grand Prix races. To date, his best Indy car start is second place at Mid-Ohio (Race 2) in 2020 and he has finished in fourth place four times. In 2021, Ferrucci competes part-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, driving for Sam Hunt Racing.

The 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season continues with the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio which will be broadcast live on NBC on July 4 at 12 p.m. EDT. All future on-track action can be seen on NBC, NBCSN or NBC’s Peacock Premium streaming service. For more information about the series or team, visit http://www.indycar.com and http://www.rahal.com.

About Hy-Vee, Inc.
Hy-Vee, Inc. is an employee-owned corporation operating more than 280 retail stores across eight Midwestern states with sales of $11 billion annually. The supermarket chain is synonymous with quality, variety, convenience, healthy lifestyles, culinary expertise and superior customer service. Hy-Vee ranks in the Top 10 Most Trusted Brands and has been named one of America’s Top 5 favorite grocery stores. The company’s more than 85,000 employees provide “A Helpful Smile in Every Aisle” to customers every day. For additional information, visit www.hy-vee.com.

About Santino Ferrucci
Ferrucci began his karting career at age five and was a multi-time champion by age 11 and was featured in an article in GQ magazine on being a karting prodigy. He also competed in six Formula 2000 races, never finishing worse than fourth in any race. In 2013 he competed in the Skip Barber Racing Series, winning his debut race at Homestead and collecting five wins, two poles and three fastest laps. His career took him to England in 2014 where he competed in British Formula 3, winning two races – both at Brands Hatch, which made him the youngest winner in British Formula 3 history at 16 years, 2 months and 30 days. In 2015, he finished third in the Toyota Racing Series New Zealand with a win and five podium finishes and also competed in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. In 2016, he competed in the GP3 Series as a rookie with DAMS with a best finish of third place at Spa-Francorchamps and joined Haas F1 as a test driver for a July test at Silverstone and became the first American driver to test an American F1 car since 1977. He also made his sports car debut that year, winning his first race in the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo North America event at Circuit of The Americas. In 2017, he continued his role as a development driver with Haas F1, testing at Hungaroring in August. He also made six GP3 starts with DAMS before moving to FIA Formula 2 with Trident. In 2018, he competed in FIA Formula 2 with Team Trident, scoring a best finish of sixth at Baku and served as a Haas F1 development driver for a third consecutive season. He also made his debut in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES for Dale Coyne Racing in 2018 with a best finish of 11th at the season-finale at Sonoma and competed in a total of four events (Detroit doubleheader, Portland). In 2019, he competed in the full INDYCAR SERIES season and finished 13th in series standings for Dale Coyne Racing with a best finish of fourth at Texas, Pocono and World Wide Technology Raceway. He was named Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year after an impressive performance en route to a seventh-place finish. Ferrucci returned for his second full season in the series in 2020 with Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan with a best finish of fourth place in the Indy 500 and 13th place, season-ending rank. Always open to new challenges, Ferrucci currently competes part-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, driving for Sam Hunt Racing. 

About Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, based in Hilliard, Ohio and Brownsburg, Ind., is co-owned by three-time
IndyCar Champion and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, former CBS Late Show host David Letterman and Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan. In 2021, the team begins its 30th year of competition and will attempt to add to its 29 Indy car wins – including the 2004 Indy 500 from pole with Buddy Rice and the 2020 Indy 500 with Takuma Sato — their 33 poles, 107 podium finishes and 1992 series championship.  The team also competed in the American Le Mans Series from 2009-2013 as BMW Team RLL where they won both the Manufacturer and Team Championships in the GT category in 2010 and swept all three GT titles in 2011 – Manufacturer, Team and Driver. In 2012, the team finished second in the Team Championship and third in the Manufacturer Championship and in 2013, the team finished second in the Driver, Team and Manufacturer Championship. Since 2014, BMW Team RLL has competed in the GTLM class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with a two-car program and has brought their total to 22 wins – including the 2019 and 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona endurance races, 28 poles and 91 podium finishes as well as a second-place finish in the Manufacturer, Team and Driver championships in 2015 and 2017. The team was also the 2020 Michelin Endurance Champions. For 2021, the team will compete for back-to-back Michelin Endurance Championships.

Ferrucci Stays with RLL for Detroit

Santino Ferrucci’s Indycar run continues this weekend as he will again drive the number of 45 Hy-Vee car for Rahal hours Letterman hours Lanigan Racing.

Ferrucci drove the car to a sixth place finish in the Indianapolis area 500 May 30. He has finished in the top seven I have all three of his runs in the past 500.

Hy_Vee appears to be a good increasing its involvement with RLL. We may see Ferrucci later in the year as well.

Ferrucci started 2021 as a part time job Xfinity series driver for the Sam Hunt Racing. It looks as though he is trying to add as many of the Indycar races to his 20 race stock car schedule as. he can.

It’s always good to have another car on the grid and a sponsor increasing its involvement in the series. RLL has been exploring the addition of a third full time in car for some time now.

Ferrucci Joins RLL; 32 Cars Set for IMS Test

Santino Ferrucci will return to the Indianapolis 500 with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He will drive the number 45 car with sponsorship from HyVee. In the 2020 500, Spencer Pigot drove the 45 HyVee car. The company will also be the primary sponsor for Graham Rahal at Road America and World Wide Technology Raceway.

This will be Ferrucci’s third Indianapolis 500. He drove for Dale Coyne Racing in 2019 and 2020, finishing seventh and fourth respectively. Ferrucci is not in the series full time this season. he is driving select XFinity races for Sam Hunt Racing.

No Fans at IMS Test

Yesterday afternoon IMS announced that there will be no public access to the grounds mThursday or Friday for the open test. A statement released by the track through Nathan brown of IndyStar:

If this action means there is a better chance of having fans at the race, I’m fine with it. Frim what I have seen on social media many fans were planning to come for the test, and IMS could probably not monitor the COVID protocols.

The test features 17 Hondas and 15 Chevys. Cody Ware will be taking his rookie test in the number 52 Dale Coyne/Rick Ware car. Simona De Silvestro makes her speedway return with Paretta Autosport. The action will be streaming on Peacock, which is offering a one week free trial.

The entry list:

Honda

Andretti Autosport (5): Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Colton Herta, Alexander Rossi, James Hinchcliffe;

Chip Ganassi Racing (4): Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Alex Palou, Marcus Ericsson;

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (3): Graham Rahal, Takuma Sato, Santino Ferrucci;

Dale Coyne Racing (3): Pietro Fittipaldi, Ed Jones, Cody Ware;

Meyer Shank Racing (2): Jack Harvey, Helio Castroneves

Chevy

Team Penske (4): Josef Newgarden, Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Scott McLaughlin;

Arrow McLaren SP (3): Pato O’Ward, Felix Rosenqvist, Juan Pablo Montoya;

Ed Carpenter Racing (3): Rinus VeeKay, Conor Daly, Ed Carpenter;

A.J. Foyt Racing (2): Sebastien Bourdais, Dalton Kellett;

Carlin (1): Max Chilton;

Paretta Autosport (1): Simona de Silvestro;

Dreyer and Reinbold Racing (1): Sage Karam

Notes

James Davison said that he will not return to the 500 this year as he is focusing on his NASCAR program.

Dennis Reinbold said he is close to finalizing a deal to run Indianapolis. His team will test.

Entry possibilities left- a sixth car at Andretti and a fourth car at Foyt.

Sato Reveals Borg- Warner Trophy Image

In an online show on IMS.com, 2020 Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato got his first look at his second likeness on the Borg-Warner trophy. Sato is a two time winner of the race. He first won in 2017 and finished third in 2019.The race is 100 days from today.

The 30 minute program featured segments with Doug Boles and Rahal Letterman team owners Mike lanigan and Bobby Rahal. Last year was Rahal’s second win as a car owner. He also won the 2004 race with Buddy Rice driving. The third team owner, David Letterman, appeared in a prerecorded video.

The full program is available for viewing on YouTube.

A Good Sign for 500 Fans?

The NCAA this morning announced that the NCCA men’s basketball tournament games will allow 25% capacity at the games, which be played entirely in Indianapolis. The tournament will take place at several venues in Indianapolis as well as at Purdue and Indiana University. The 25% includes the teams and game personnel, which narrows the actual number of fans at each arena. As I am writing this, Purdue just announced 12-13% capacity for the tournament games.

The positive part is that this may signal some good news for fan attendance at the Indianapolis 500. Marion County has been the most restrictive county in Indiana at times, but this allowance may be a great sign for May.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan to Build Race Facility in Zionsville

From Rahal Letterman Lanigan racing this morning:

ZIONSVILLE, Ind. (Oct. 7, 2020) – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL), an automotive racing organization, announced plans today to expand its Indiana operations, establishing its global headquarters in Zionsville and creating up to 73 new jobs by the end of 2024.

“Indiana’s reputation as a leader in motorsports continues to pick up speed with companies like Rahal Letterman Lanigan choosing to invest in our state,” Governor Eric J. Holcomb said. “We look forward to supporting RLL’s continued growth in Indiana as the company leverages our state’s business-friendly environment and skilled workforce while racing to the checkered flag.”

The company, which has four entries in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and International Motor Sports Association (IMSA)’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, will invest more than $20 million to build and equip a state-of-the-art racing headquarters at the northeast corner of Creek Way and 106th Street in Zionsville. The 100,000-square-foot facility, which will occupy 13 acres southeast of the downtown area, will allow RLL to consolidate its existing INDYCAR operations in Brownsburg, as well as its IMSA operations in Ohio. The new building will feature office and event space as well as automotive R&D and light manufacturing operations to support the dynamic functions of RLL’s racing teams. The company expects to break ground on its headquarters late 2020 and be fully operational by spring 2022.

“We are very excited about this project, and excited about being in a park-like setting in Zionsville,” said Bobby Rahal, co-owner of RLL. “We feel that this building will make a statement about who we are at RLL and what our intentions are about the future. Having our entire organization based in the Indianapolis area, in Zionsville, is going to be a big plus for our organization. We have done a great job of having two facilities, as is showcased by our wins in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Indianapolis 500 this season, but it is certainly demanding having people in two places. We have had time to really look at the building and design every aspect with input from our personnel to maximize the space.”

Founded in 1992, RLL is co-owned by three-time INDYCAR champion and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, former CBS Late Show host and Indiana native David Letterman, and Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan. This year, RLL earned its second Indy 500 win and first since 2004, when Takuma Sato also took home his second victory at the historic race. RLL’s INDYCAR team is also headlined by Graham Rahal, son of Bobby Rahal, who is a six-time winner in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

“We have been working on building a race shop for over five years and are now ready to move forward,” said Mike Lanigan, co-owner of RLL. “I am personally very excited and honored to be working with the town of Zionsville. I used to live in the area years ago and look forward to our team integrating ourselves into the community and their various programs. Having our racing teams under one roof will not only maximize our abilities, it will provide economies of scale to keep the cost down. That savings will enable us to reinvest more back into the company.”

Indiana is globally recognized as a leader in motorsports. Home to the “Racing Capital of the World,” Indiana welcomes visitors from around the world to Indianapolis for world-class racing events like the Indy 500, Brickyard 400 and IndyCar Grand Prix. Motorsports-related businesses operate in all of Indiana’s 92 counties, with more than 2,400 motorsports businesses like RLL supporting more than 421,000 motorsports-related jobs across Indiana.

“Our efforts to seek the right fit for Creekside Corporate Park have proven successful with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing expanding to Zionsville and choosing Creekside Corporate Park for their corporate headquarters,” said Zionsville Mayor Emily Styron. “In Zionsville, we have the best of both worlds – a thriving business community and an unparalleled quality of life. RLL fits in well with the local culture and business environment and I know their team will love being part of this community. We are thrilled to welcome RLL to town.”

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation will offer RLL up to $1.2 million in conditional tax credits based on the company’s job creation plans and up to $300,000 in conditional tax credits from the Hoosier Business Investment (HBI) tax credit program based on the company’s planned capital investment in Indiana. These tax credits are performance-based, meaning until Hoosiers are hired, the company is not eligible to claim incentives.

About Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, based in Hilliard, Ohio and Brownsburg, Ind., is co-owned by three-time IndyCar Champion and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, former CBS Late Show host David Letterman and Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan. In 2020, the team is in the midst of their 29th year of open wheel competition and has 29 wins – including the 2004 Indy 500 from pole with Buddy Rice and the 2020 Indy 500 with Takuma Sato — their 33 poles, 107 podium finishes and 1992 series championship.  The team also competed in the American Le Mans Series from 2009-2013 as BMW Team RLL where they won both the Manufacturer and Team Championships in the GT category in 2010 and swept all three GT titles in 2011 – Manufacturer, Team and Driver. In 2012, the team finished second in the Team Championship and third in the Manufacturer Championship and in 2013, the team finished second in the Driver, Team and Manufacturer Championship. Since 2014, BMW Team RLL has competed in the GTLM class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with a two-car program and has brought their total to 22 wins – including the 2019 and 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona endurance races, 28 poles and 82 podium finishes as well as a second place finish in the Manufacturer, Team and Driver championships in 2015 and 2017.

About IEDC
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) leads the state of Indiana’s economic development efforts, helping businesses launch, grow and locate in the state. Governed by a 15-member board chaired by Governor Eric J. Holcomb, the IEDC manages many initiatives, including performance-based tax credits, workforce training grants, innovation and entrepreneurship resources, public infrastructure assistance, and talent attraction and retention efforts. For more information about the IEDC, visit http://www.iedc.in.gov.

Indycar Season Preview, Part II: Teams That Should Improve

Here are four teams I think should show improvement over their 2019 performance. They are presented in no particular order.

Meyer Shank Racing

Michael Shank has finally reached his dream of a full time entry in the NTT Indycar Series.  Jack Harvey did well early in 2019 when the team ran virtually every race, culminating in a podium at the Indycar Grand Prix. When the team had a gap before their next race, their performance dropped off. The consistency of a full season will help the team do well in 2020.

Not hurting their chances is the technical alliance with Andretti Autosport. Colton Herta had this same arrangement last year, and he did all right.  Harvey had three top 10s in his first six races. He was 13th in points after the Indianapolis 500. I think he may have moved up a spot or two had he run every race in 2019.

Arrow McLaren SP

On the surface, it appears this team is doing everything the wrong way. They signed a rookie driver and one with eight races of experience. In the process, they fired their most veteran driver. They are bringing in a new engineering staff. Even the ownership has seen a shakeup. In the team’s favor is that all of the new pieces have a lot of talent.

Rookie Oliver Askew is a steady driver. The 2019 Indy Lights champion is  focused and analytical behind the wheel. Pato O’Ward had a roller coaster season bouncing from series to series. I think he will show his appreciation for having a full time ride. Both drivers were in the top 10 at Spring Training.

The third element that will help AMSP is engineer Craig Hampson, who joined the team after working with Sebastien Bourdais. Hampson and Bourdais won several championships together, and the pair gave the Dale Coyne team some relevance. The team may need a race or two to get their footing, but I think they will have enough good results to call their season successful.

From Yesterday- https://thepitwindow.blog/2020/02/27/indycar-season-preview-part-i-coyne-foyt-carlin-look-to-improve/

Rahalk Letterman Lanigan

This group seems to always be looking for consistency. Graham Rahal said on Content Day, “When we were strong at a track, both of ttling battling tus were strong. When we struggled at a track, both of us struggled.”

Takuma Sato was ninth in the final standings and Rahal finished tenth. They are not that far off from moving up in the top 10. Sato won twice and earned two poles. Rahal started on the front row at Barber but was sidelined by mechanical problems. It was a steady season for two drivers who still weren’t satisfied.

RLL should have a few better race results, but moving up in the final standings may be difficult battling the three teams that make up half the grid. Both drivers can win a race and I could see that happening in 2020.

Ed Carpenter Racing

The oval program is solid, especially at Indianapolis. Two spots on the front row last year and three poles in the 500 are a great qualifying record. The team is still looking to improve their road and street course performance. I think they are on their way to doing just that.

The road/street team of Conor Daly and rookie Rinus VeeKay are capable of turning the  team’s fortunes around. Daly seems to make any car he drives better. With a full season at the same team ECR should improve as the year goes on. VeeKay, the Indy Lights runner-up needs to focus his energy and adapt quickly to the nuances of Indycar. He is a talented, consistent driver.

How many more seasons will Ed Carpenter drive the oval races? Only Ed knows that answer. His runner-up finish at Gateway last August shows he isn’t ready to step out of the car yet. I think in a couple of years he will cut back to Indy only, but for now there isn’t any good reason to stop.

A good season for this team on the road courses would be some second round qualifying results and a few top ten race finishes. The talent is there. I can see this team putting it together, especially after Indianapolis.

 

Monday I’ll preview the Big Three. Tomorrow- a summary of all the great news that happened this week in Indycar.

Quick Thoughts- Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

I love watching a track come alive on race morning. It’s fun seeing the energy build among the fans and teams.

Age and experience beat youth everytime.

Takuma Sato was unstoppable this weekend. He has won two of the last five races going back to Portland in 2018.

There were terrific battles throughout the day.

Josef Newgarden is doing the things needed to be champion. He fought hard from his 17th starting position to finish fourth. Herta’s issues allowed him to increase his point lead to 27 over Scott Dixon. I wouldn’t count Dixon out just yet.

Both Swedish rookies finished in the top 10.  Marcus Ericsson was 7th and Felix Rosenqvist was 10th. It was a good recovery for Rosenqvist who had some off track excurions earlier in the weekend.

Even though Power has won twice here, he seems to have some sort of problem during the race.  It’s odd to see a driver who has had a lot of success at a track run into so much difficulty the last few years.

Jack Harvey had another good run but it looked like pit strategy kept him from a third straight top 10, Still MSR is doing well this young season.

The crowd was still a good size, but seemed a little down from the last two years.

Baby Steps

Dragonspeed and  driver Ben Hanley have shown a gain in speed since St. Pete. After today they have just three races remaining in their short first season. It looks like they are on a good path to a decent pace.

They were not the last car running today.

Look for my full race report tomorrow on Wildfire Sports. Thanks for following along this weekend.

Photo: Sato’s crew celebrates after the checkered flag.

 

 

Quick Thoughts on Barber Qualifying

That was a refreshing qualifying session on many levels. It was green all the way. No Penske cars in the Fast Six for the first time since 2014. Five teams represented in the Fast Six. One team locked out the front row, and it wasn’t one of the Big Three.

Chevys are scattered through the field in groups of twos and threes.

Tomorrow’s race became very interesting as soon as the checkered flag waved on qualifying.

The crowd today looked more like a typical Barber Saturday.  The lack of rain likely helped with that.

Does any driver exhibit the pure joy of success better than Takuma Sato? I mean besides Will Power at Indianapolis last May.

Graham Rahal had his best race in a long time at COTA two weeks ago. Can he improve on that tomorrow?

Conor Daly won the Lamborghini Super Trofeo race today