RAHAL - Jordan King on His First 500

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Pre-Race Notes
103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 – Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Round 6 of 17 in the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series

DATE:      Tuesday, May 14 – Sunday, May 26, 2019
PRACTICE BROADCASTS:      Live on INDYCAR Pass, the direct-to-consumer streaming product from NBC Sports Gold, from Tuesday, May 14 through Friday, May 17 from 11-6:00 p.m.  From 12-2 p.m. on Monday, May 20. All times Eastern.
QUALIFYING BROADCAST:      Live on NBC Gold from 8-9:30 and 11-5 and NBCSN & Gold from 5-6 p.m. on Saturday. On Sunday NBC will air coverage from 12-3 on NBC and NBCSN will take over coverage from 3-6 p.m.  All times Eastern. Also live on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network (AAPIRN) and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis).
RACE BROADCAST:      Live Sunday, May 26 beginning at 11 a.m. ET on NBC, INDYCAR Pass and the
AAPIRN.  Coverage will also air on Sirius 113 and XM 209.
TRACK LAYOUT:      2.5-mile oval
RACE LENGTH:      200 laps / 500 miles 
2018 WINNER:      Will Power
2018 POLESITTER:      Ed Carpenter (229.618 mph average)
RLL’S TOP START / FINISH AT INDY:      Won the 2004 race from pole with Buddy Rice
RAHAL’S BEST OVAL START / FINISH:      Pole (Kansas 2009) / 1st (Fontana 2015, 500-miles; Texas 2016)
RAHAL’S BEST INDY 500 START / FINISH:      4th in 2009 / 3rd in 2011 (will be his 12th Indy 500)
RAHAL’S HIGHEST SERIES START/FINISH:      Pole at St. Pete (street) 2009, Kansas (oval) 2009, Detroit Race 1 (street) 2017 / 1st in St. Pete in 2008, Fontana (Super Speedway) & Mid-Ohio (road) 2015, Texas 2016 (oval), Detroit 1 & 2 (street)
SATO’S BEST OVAL START/FINISH:      Pole (Pocono 2017) / 1st (Indy 500 2017)
SATO’S BEST INDY 500 START / FINISH:      4th in 2017 / 1st in 2017 (will be his 10th Indy 500)
SATO’S HIGHEST SERIES START / FINISH:      Pole at Iowa (oval) 2011, Edmonton (street) 2011, Houston Race 1 (street) 2013, St. Pete (street) 2014, Detroit Race 2 (street) 2014, Detroit Race 2 2017, Pocono (oval) 2017. Barber (road) 2019 / 1st in Long Beach (2013), Indianapolis 500 (2017), Portland (2018), Barber (2019)
KING’S HIGHEST SERIES START/FINISH:      4th at St. Pete (street) 2018 / 11th in Toronto (street) 2018

The 2019 entry will mark the 22nd year for the team in the event.  Prior to 2019, the team prepared a total of 41 entries for drivers such as Bobby Rahal (1992-1995), Mike Groff (1994), Raul Boesel (1995), Jimmy Vasser (2002-2003), Kenny Brack (2003, 2005), Buddy Rice (2004, 2006; DNC 2005 due to practice crash), Vitor Meira (2004, 2005), Roger Yasakawa (2004), Danica Patrick (2005, 2006), Jeff Simmons (2006, 2007), Scott Sharp (2007), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2008), Oriol Servia (2009, 2014-2015), Graham Rahal (2010, 2013-2018), James Jakes (2013), Bertrand Baguette (2011), Jay Howard (2011), Takuma Sato (2012, 2018) and Michel Jourdain Jr. (2012).  For 2019, RLL has entered the No. 15 United Rentals Honda-Dallara-Firestone car for Graham Rahal, the No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda-Dallara-Firestone car for Takuma Sato and the No. 42 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara-Honda-Firestone for rookie Jordan King.
The team’s highest start and finish in the event came in 2004 when Buddy Rice won from pole. In addition, the team has earned a total of four podiums (2nd – Meira 2005; 3rd – B. Rahal 1994, 1995). The team was in contention to win the race as recent as 2011, 2012 and 2017.  In 2011, Bertrand Baguette led laps 139-140 and laps 189-197 of the 200 lap race. Had a caution come out before Baguette was forced to pit for a splash of fuel, he might have been the victor. The race ultimately ended under caution when JR Hildebrand crashed on the front straight while in the lead on the final lap.  In 2012, RLL driver Takuma Sato was alongside eventual Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti in Turn 1 on the final lap but limited traction and possible tire contact catapulted him into a spin and he ultimately finished 17th after leading the third most race laps.  Most recently, the team’s best finish is fifth with Graham Rahal in 2015. He was in contention in 2017 but had a puncture while fifth on Lap 149/200.
Jordan King made 11 starts for Ed Carpenter Racing in 2018 with a best finish of 11th at Toronto but all of those were on road or street courses.  He participated in a 2018 pre-season test at the Phoenix International Raceway oval before the season-opener at St. Petersburg but that was his only oval experience.  The 103rd Indianapolis 500 would be his first oval race. He shared some insight on his preparation what he has been doing since the announcement was made in November 2018 that he would attempt to qualify for the 2019 Indy 500.
“It’s been a long wait since the announcement back in November so I’m really excited that my Indy 500 debut is here. As always, it’s been an incredibly busy time both on and off the track. It’s been great to get to know the RLL guys and put everything in place ahead of this month. They’re a great team of people who are incredibly passionate about what they do and I can’t wait to team up with them as the real work starts this month.
            “We’ve also been busy working with new partners ahead of the 500. We’re incredibly lucky and grateful to be working with some really creative and ambitious partners with whom we have made some exciting plans with. RICH Energy are making big waves in the energy drink market and across the sport so it is great to be working with them moving forward. On a more local feel, I’ve teamed up with Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar and again we’ve got some really cool plans lined up for the Month of May.
“With regards to the on-track side of things, it is probably been as busy as I have ever experienced. Aside from all the usual’s in terms of what you would expect; sim work, seat fits and the such.  It has been about keeping myself as fresh as possible through my season program that has included World Endurance Championship and Formula 2 duties on top of my IndyCar commitments.”
“I like to think I take a properly thorough approach to my preparation in everything that I do and this has only been strengthened ahead of the 500. I’ve been in regular communications with the whole team at RLL including establishing a very strong relationship with my engineers so that we can hit the ground running this month. I’ve headed over to Indianapolis and done plenty of running in the Honda simulator to help myself dial in. Beyond that, my racing calendar has been incredibly busy with my WEC and Formula 2 duties so I feel as fresh as ever and in a really good place behind the wheel. Those that know me will know that keeping fit is more than a passion, more of an obsession of mine! So that has been no different and I feel in great shape heading into a very important and exciting month.”
“My approach to my 500 debut will be no different to how I approach any challenge in my career. I like to take things head on and give it all that I have got. Not in a reckless way but instead by taking confidence that I have prepared in the best and fullest way possible. From there it is about trusting in your ability, the team’s ability and delivering from there. I’m under no illusions that it is a massive challenge in front of me - making your oval debut in the biggest oval event across the globe. But if you aren’t confident in your own ability, no one else is going to be! I’m lucky in that I have been around the whole Indy Car platform for over a year now. I’m not coming in as a complete newbie. I know the drill, what is expected and ultimately how you can be successful. Last year was a real learning curve and I’ll be all the better for that experience this year. There are some of the best drivers in the world up and down that grid and many of them have been hugely helpful in terms of offering me some advice. Aside from that, my manager (Mark Blundell) has plenty of experience Stateside including ovals so he has been a huge help too.”
“Yes, I did attend last year’s 500 and it was a bittersweet week for me. Pretty much any driver who goes along to watch the event would much rather be out on track competing and that was no different for me! It was a great experience though to understand all that goes into such a huge event and the scale of it impacts the drivers accordingly. It was great to see the whole event, take it all in and get used to it which should help me take it all in my stride now that I go there as a competitor. To be honest, I can’t remember which year was my first one watching. I vividly remember the 100th running though, watching from start to finish and being glued to the whole scale of the event and the incredible skill required from a driving point of view.”
“As I’ve said, I am under no illusions as to the scale of the challenge ahead but I am confident I can make a real impact. I’ve always set high standards for myself and I will be satisfied so long as I meet them. There are so many factors in an event like the 500 that impact the result that I’m only really focusing on all the elements that I can control. If I deliver to a high level on all those factors that I can control then I will be well placed to leave the weekend feeling happy with all that I have achieved regardless of the result. I want to make sure I deliver on the process, if I do that, the result will come naturally.”

Tom Beeler

Tom has been a contributor to RIS since 1992, and has covered IndyCar, Formula 1, NASCAR, Grand-Am, ALMS and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In addition to his RIS work, Tom has been a contributor for General Motors, Nissan, Toyota and the ACO.

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Volume 2019, Issue 5, Posted 11:37 AM, 05.15.2019