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Rahal Letterman Lanigan Leaves Indianapolis No Better, No Worse

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has had a tough go of it in the 2024 Month of May but, according to the team’s eponymous driver, the Indianapolis 500 was a net positive for the historic team.

The team arrived at the speedway with its full-time lineup of Graham Rahal, Christian Lungaard and Pietro Fittipaldi, along with two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato, who appeared in the team’s fourth car as a one-off entry.

At the end of a crash-filled, hectic and unpredictable race, three of the team’s cars finished back-to-back-to-back, featuring Lundgaard in 13th, Sato in 14th and Rahal in 15th, respectively. Given the competitiveness of the NTT IndyCar Series, mid-field results are rarely something drivers desire, but when reflecting on the team’s faring in the weeks leading up to the race, these results could be taken as a positive development for the squad at large.

“I thought it was a wild day,” Rahal told Frontstretch after the race. “I thought there was a lot of action on track. Obviously, a lot of accidents; I was surprised by how much activity there was in that regard.

“For us, it was a good comeback. But my penalty, speeding in pit lane, really cost us. [It] probably cost us a top five. It’s a little hard to swallow that, but we put our heads down and it was a good result at the end.”

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Rahal’s use of the term comeback could be taken as a double entendre, referring to both his race at large and rebounding from a penalty, or his charge from a last-place qualifying position to finish in the top half of the field. Importantly, Rahal’s mixed fortunes seemed to be part of a larger theme within the team as a whole.

Fittipaldi ended the day worse of the four RLLR cars after he was collected in a pileup in the opening corner of the race. The Brazilian has the weakest record of his team’s three full-time entrants this year, and would have benefited greatly from a strong result in the series’ biggest race. Like Rahal, Fittipaldi started toward the back of the field in 30th position.

Following the accident, Fittipaldi was kept in the care center longer than the other drivers involved (Marcus Ericsson, Tom Blomqvist), but was eventually checked and released.

“I’m fine, just pretty disappointed,” Fittipaldi told Frontstretch. “Start of the race, you just want to have a clean start, a clean race. I avoided an accident ahead of me, I got clear to the bottom. We went, it was no problem and then I got completely sidewalled, someone hit me and sent me straight to the wall.

“Really nothing we could’ve done there, just pissed off because we put a lot of effort into this race and lap 1 we’re done.”

Fittipaldi confirmed that he was in good condition and stayed in the care center for basic precautionary checks.

Two-time 500 winner Sato made brief appearances at the front of the field throughout the day but conceded after the fact that the No. 75 car was just a bit off the mark, making 14th a finish to be content with for the 47-year-old from Tokyo.

“Certainly, the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team, as well as the No. 75 boys, worked extremely well,” Sato said. “We should be very proud of being in the top 10 in qualifying and in the race we fought back really strong. At one stage we were at the back of the queue and then we fought back … it was a good race!

“In the end, our strategy didn’t work out as we wished and we lost a little bit of speed but we tried our best and it was a great race.”

Lundgaard capped off his third Indy 500 entry with his best finish to-date of 13th, besting his previous results of 19th and 18th in 2022 and 2023, respectively. Lundgaard has been on par with Rahal throughout thus far in the year in terms of finishes, including being in the mix for the win at the Sonsio Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, lending the No. 45 team momentum en route to a team-leading finish in the 500.

For good measure, the Dane led four laps on the day.

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On a positive note, Rahal is enthusiastic about one off-topic matter regarding the schedule, drawing on his comparative wealth of experience over much of the active IndyCar field.

“I love Milwaukee,” he told Frontstretch. “Tough track, tough on tires, so typically good, pretty solid racing, a lot of degradation. It’ll be interesting to see what happens there. I’m excited to go back there for sure, and obviously we have Nashville this year too on the oval as well.”

About the author

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Alex is the IndyCar Content Director at Frontstretch, having initially joined as an entry-level contributor in 2021. He also serves as Managing Director of The Asia Cable, a publication focused on the international affairs and politics of the Asia-Pacific region which he co-founded in 2023. With previous experience in China, Japan and Poland, Alex is particularly passionate about the international realm of motorsport and the politics that make the wheels turn - literally - behind the scenes.

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