ELKHART LAKE, Wis – Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing had a rough start for their new two car program at the beginning of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season. While Graham Rahal finished runner-up, his new teammate Takuma Sato finished 12th. The next race in Phoenix, Rahal was ninth and Sato 11th. In race No. 3 at Long Beach, Rahal was fifth but Sato 21st.
One car was performing but not the other. Call it growing pains.
But, the April race at Barber, well that was the turning point. The rain delayed race was the first time that both drivers finished inside the top 10 of the same race weekend. Rahal, brought his No. 15 Honda home seventh. Sato, finished one spot behind in eighth. One race later, the INDYCAR Grand Prix, Rahal finished ninth and Sato 10th.
The next three races, the Indy 500 and both in Belle Isle, they couldn’t accomplish that feat again. Rahal, came home 10th in Indy but 22nd and fifth respectively in Detroit. Sato, was fifth and 17th respectively in Belle Isle but 32nd in Indy.
They both haven’t finished outside the top 10 since though.
Two weeks ago in Texas, they came home sixth (Rahal) and seventh (Sato) respectively. For Sunday’s Kohler Grand Prix, another natural road course, Sato would bring his No. 30 Honda home fourth and Rahal sixth.
Stats show that RLL has had a car finish in the top 10 in every race in 2018. That’s a big step forward. But, for them scoring dual top 10’s, that even bigger.
If not for that crash in Belle Isle, Rahal would have been in the top 10 in every race. They’d also have another double top 10 for the group too. It would have been five of the last seven races they’ve accomplished that feat. Still, four for the last seven is a start. They were 0-for-3 to start the year off.
They were strong all weekend though. Sato, was second, ninth and 11th respectively in the trio of practice sessions. He started seventh and within a few laps was quickly into the top five. He’d remain there the rest of the day. Rahal, was 16th, third and 10th respectively in the same three practices. He’d qualify ninth.