Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has had a consistent season with Takuma Sato. Sunday’s race at Road America was no different and it resulted in Sato almost earning his first podium finish since his victory in last years Indianapolis 500. As noted, the season has been a consistent one for RLLR including with Sato’s teammate Graham Rahal, who finished Sunday’s race in sixth. The two have had the speed to become a staple inside the top five to 10 drivers all year long. They just need a little more speed to compete with the likes of Josef Newgarden, Scott Dixon, Will Power and Alexander Rossi.
“We had a fast car,” said Sato. “It’s a shame that we missed the podium, but we need to find a little more speed. Thanks to the fans for all the support. It was another great event at Road America. We struggled at the beginning of the season and lost too much ground, but Graham (Rahal) and I are working close with the engineering side and shared a lot of stuff and picked up speed. I made a good start at the beginning and it was really fun.”
Things got sketchy during the race between Sato and Rossi. The two made contact once, sending Sato into the grass. Rossi pulled the same move on Robert Wickens in the early stages of the race. Some say it was aggressive racing while others find it unacceptable including Sato.
“At one point, I was side-by-side (with Rossi) and pushed hard, and obviously, not very happy with that, but in the end, we got the spot back and close to the podium. In high-level, professional racing, you shouldn’t really be bumping each other. Obviously, I gave him room enough and he came inside. He just couldn’t stop and came into me and bumped me. He did exactly the same thing to Wickens at the start and I’m surprised the stewards didn’t take action. I’m OK with side-by-side, just don’t touch me. The guys did a tremendous job over the weekend and we hope to carry momentum to Iowa.”
Sato currently sits 13th in points, 192 points off of points leader Dixon. The series now heads to Iowa Speedway in two weeks, a track that hasn’t been incredibly friendly to Sato. In eight starts, he has five DNFs and has never run better than 11th.