Rahal Letterman Lanigan Puts 3-Cars Into 103rd Indianapolis 500 Lineup

Graham Rahal, Takuma Sato And Jordan King Will Start 14th, 17th And 26th Respectively

Scott Stiller
May 19, 2019 - 1:19 pm
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing's Graham Rahal During IndyCar Qualifying For 103rd Indianapolis 500

Matt Fraver-IndyCar Series

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Speedway, IN (93.7 The Fan) – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing is locked into the field for the 103rd Indianapolis 500.

Friday evening’s qualifying draw played a huge role in the outcome of Saturday’s qualifying sessions as ambient temperatures hit 85-degrees, the highest of the month so far. The sunshine and warmer temperatures sent track temps over 120-degrees as the sun beat down the huge Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Graham Rahal made three qualifying attempts in the No. 15 United Rentals Honda, with the last one taking place while the gun went off to signal the end of the session at 5:50 p.m. 

Rahal’s 4-lap average of 228.104 mph was good for the 17th starting spot in the 33-car field.

“We had a tough decision to make after that second run,” said Rahal.  “I think everyone felt that we could go a lot quicker.  We just needed to go out and put it together.  It just takes a little tweak here and there and we got it right.”

The 500 will be Rahal’s 12th start in the event.  His best start was fourth in 2009 with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing and his best finish was third in 2011 with Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing.

2017 Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato is starting 14th after completing a 4-lap average of 228.300 mph in the No. 39 Mi-Jack/Panasonic Honda.

“It was a tough day,” said Sato.  “It was warm with gusty wind.  Nobody had a perfect car I don’t think.  The morning runners from 11-12 p.m. got a bit of a condition advantage, but then after that we all struggled due to the temperature.  I’m kind of half satisfied.  I ended up lifting on my third lap, which cost me 0.1 mile down on average.  I think with the conditions and the circumstances; the team did a good job and we have decent speed.”

RLL Racing’s third driver Jordan King had a bizarre first attempt after IndyCar officials threw a yellow flag for debris on the track as he was about to take the green flag. King returned to pit lane and the RLL crew scrambled to cool down the No. 42 Honda and put on fresh tires because officials said the qualifying order could not be changed.

King, a rookie who is making his first oval start, then made three attempts to make the field and his third and final attempt got hm into the field with a 4-lap average of 227.502 mph, good for 26th place.

“That was a good run,” said King.  “It was pretty consistent.  I think my drop off was only half a mile an hour.  The first run was so mismatched with a yellow flag.  The team did a great job staying relaxed, getting the car ready and making those small adjustments and now we’ve got ourselves some breathing room.”

Qualifying continues on Sunday, weather permitting, with the “Last Row Shootout” to determine the final three starting spots (31, 32, 33) and the “Fast Nine Shootout” where Saturday’s number one through nine will fight it out for the pole position and ultimately determine the lineup for the first three rows.

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