The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team brought the curtain down on an eventful 2019 season at the Firestone Grand Prix after Graham Rahal finished 12th and Takuma Sato 21st.
It was something of an anti-climactic end to an encouraging season for the Acronis partner team that saw them gain two wins, two poles and two more podiums, and it could have been so much better had Sato not been hit by Santino Ferrucci in Turn 2, dropping him to the back of the field.
THANK YOU, fans!
— Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (@RLLracing) September 22, 2019
Even so, Sato, who recorded wins at Barber and St. Louis, gained further places and was still in position to finish sixth in the drivers’ standings but a pit stop to check for damage meant that he finished 21st.
“In the race, we had some issues and a mechanical failure in the end,” said Sato. “It is a shame that we couldn’t finish high and try to get fifth in the championship. In the end we dropped significantly in the standings. The No. 30 car ran beautifully this season with Graham and I pushing each other all season. We will come back even stronger next season and I’m really looking forward to that. Thank you to everyone for their support.”
Despite his disappointing Firestone result, Sato has every right to be encouraged by a season that saw him sit atop the podium on two occasions.
“I think the season was great. It was a little bit up and down of course but we achieved a couple of pole positions, a couple of podiums and two wins and I think it was a great season. I can’t thank everyone enough for their support. We had some difficult circumstances but the team was fully behind me and I was able to push all the way through the season.”
For his part, Rahal looked set for a good result with which to finish the season on a high after starting eighth before losing out to Ryan Hunter-Reay and Ferrucci, dropping to 11th on Lap 5 when also passed by Felix Rosenqvist.
He ran as high as fifth before his second stop but after the field once again settled into true running order after the third and final stop, 12th was the final reward for his efforts.
Finished 12th today in the #FirestoneGP and 10th overall for the 2019 #Indycar season. Despite a tough year, I’m so proud of this team for keeping their chins up & working hard. Thanks to all our sponsors, partners & fans for the encouragement & support! On to 2020 #gr15 #15in19 pic.twitter.com/lf8l8mPOr4
— Graham Rahal (@GrahamRahal) September 22, 2019
“Today was a tough day. I thought at times that we had decent pace and at other times we really struggled with the rear of the car,” said Rahal. “We’re just missing a little something. We’ve been close this year but not quite there. I’m proud of our mechanics and all of the guys for keeping their heads down and continuing to work hard. It wasn’t the easiest of years but everyone stayed positive and fought until the end. We’re thankful for all of our partners and looking forward to 2020.”