Well, I have to look back and say we didn't end up first or second, but I think we did everything we were supposed to do. We were going for the win. When you see the opening, you go for it. If Takuma Sato had pulled it off, people would have been talking about that pass forever. They still may!
The thing that set up the last lap is that Taku passed Scott Dixon in pretty much the same place. Dixon didn't move over on him, because he was letting Franchitti by. So the move had worked before, and I can find no fault with what Takuma tried to do. He was trying to win the race.
Many people are saying, 'He should have waited until Turn 3.' Well, who's to say he would have had a shot? If he had followed Franchitti all the way down into the turn, I can guarantee you Franchitti would have been on the inside of the racetrack.
So, he saw the hole, and he went for it. It's pretty clear to me that Dario didn't pinch him at all, and didn't move over to defend the line. He just ran out of room, unfortunately.
It's obviously disappointing given how well the day had gone up to that point. But I feel tremendous pride in what Takuma did, what the team did on the pit stops all day, with a good setup on the car.
After this weekend, if people don't think RLL is for real, then I don't know what will convince them. Given the lack of resource compared to some of the teams, I think we're getting a lot of bang for the buck!
We started 19th, then we passed our way into the top 10 fairly early in the race. We had a good car with good stops, good pace and good strategy. We took some downforce out so we could run fast by ourselves. Everything went according to plan. You have to look back at the whole month with a lot of satisfaction, and a real appreciation for the job everyone did.
I think TK had jumped the (second-to-last) restart, because you don't go sixth to first on a single-file restart if you start where you're supposed to. That was ridiculous. We called that to the attention of the officials, but I don't think they saw it our way. Dixon had complained about it too, from what I read.
But at that point, I just told him, “OK, these guys are going and they're not going to get black flagged. So we're gonna need to be aggressive on the restarts, because these other guys are coming.” And that's what happened – we were shot back from third to seventh on one restart. Briscoe, TK and maybe someone else – JR Hildebrand or Hinchcliffe – did that.
So with eight laps to go, we didn't have any time to waste. He made a very good last restart. He made a really good one earlier in the race. We pitted along with Marco on a yellow after about 10 laps. A lot of the other guys didn't. We were maybe 15th or 16th in line, and before we knew it we were P8 and some other cars still needed to stop. He did a great job on that restart. It was almost as though stopping for fuel at that point was no hindrance whatsoever based on the restart we had. Most of them were pretty good. At the end of the race, you want to make sure you're on your toes. It was obvious there'd be no black flags at that point.
He was good in the corners, too, but we had taken downforce out of the car at different times. We were probably at similar levels as Dario and Dixon. Taku drove it though. There were a couple times he caught it when it was sideways. He drove the wheels off the thing. He was able to get a really good run off of Four on Franchitti, Franchitti got a good run on Dixon, and that's how we both passed Dixon.
All day long, the car was pretty good. We had some understeer in the beginning but were able to tune it out. He seemed pretty happy with the car but, make no mistake, he drove it really well, too.
I was very pleased with Honda, too. My god, what a comeback. What a job. I was amazed when I saw the first stop that we were going a lap or two laps further than the Chevys. We thought going in it would be the other way around. Honda did an unbelievable job. We had talked with the Honda folks throughout the month, and that they would get it right, and boy, they sure did. I'm so excited about the rest of the year.
Having Scott Roembke back was super emotional for us, too. He told me last June or July, that he'd be back at Indy. There were some times we didn't think it would happen. He's provided a real value for the team for the last several months. We do – I do – have a lot of respect for Scott and so having him there was a big success for us. He has been one of our key ingredients over the years.
Generally it was a trouble-free race. Taku did an excellent job, Michel ran well, the crew did an excellent job, and that just says a lot about the entire organization.
And with Takuma, he got great respect from many people with his attitude that he was there to win, not just finish. We may not have won the race, but we were the moral victor. There's a lot to be said for being the moral victor.
For him, it gives him a great deal of optimism for what he can do. That's already the third race he's led this year! I told him, “You're gonna win more than one race this year, I have no doubt.” He's the real deal, he's a racer.
Bobby Rahal and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing competes with Takuma Sato in the No. 15 Dallara-Honda in the IZOD IndyCar Series and with two BMW M3s in the American Le Mans Series. To learn more about the team, go to www.rahal.com. Rahal is also on Twitter at @BobRahal.