Photo: Walter G. Arce Sr. /ASP Inc.

Rahal, Sato Lock Out Third Row at Road America

By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer

ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin — In Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s best road course qualifying performance since the NTT IndyCar Series visited Barber Motorsports Park in April, Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato qualified their cars fifth and sixth respectively for Sunday’s REV Group Grand Prix at Road America.

Rahal is racing with a tribute livery honoring how his father’s car looked 25 years ago and the No. 15 Gehl Honda turned a lap of 1 minute, 43.8076 seconds to average 139.204 mph around the 14 turn, 4.014 mile road course.

In Saturday’s practice session, Rahal had a spin coming off of Turn 7 that caused a red flag. Limiting his running time, qualifying fifth was a near-dream result for the Ohio native.

“For both Takuma and I to make the Fast Six was a great recovery from where we were this morning,” said Rahal. “Not only myself, but with Taku this morning I think we both struggled quite a lot. To recover that way, both of us making it in the Fast Six, was impressive.

I think the guys did a great job. The engineers have worked hard all year long. I think we also recognize a little bit that we struggled at Indy GP, struggled here to get going. Just kept our heads down and here we are.”

Sato is fifth in points and his 2019 season is his best in recent memory. The 2017 Indianapolis 500 winner qualified just .0714 seconds behind Rahal in his best qualifying performance at Road America.

“For me, the season has been so far very strong,” said Sato. “Particularly for the road courses, we were very strong at the very beginning of the season. Now we struggled a little bit, but I think we came back in strong which gives us quite the positive feeling for tomorrow.”

The REV Group Grand Prix broadcast will be on NBC at 11:00 a.m. ET with the green flag scheduled for 11:50.

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A 2012 graduate of LSU, Christopher DeHarde primarily focuses on the NTT IndyCar Series and the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. DeHarde has actively covered motorsports since 2014.