IndyCar: Rahal Letterman Lanigan releases statement on Panther lawsuit

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Rahal Letterman Lanigan has released a statement regarding Panther Racing’s decision to sue the team, INDYCAR and other entities after the National Guard decided to move its IndyCar Series sponsorship from Panther to RLL.

Panther filed the lawsuit in a Marion County, Indiana court on Feb. 19. The Associated Press reports that the suit alleges bid-rigging and other improprieties were at cause for them losing the sponsorship.

Here’s this afternoon’s full statement from RLL:

Unhappy with the summary denial of its bid protest before the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) and unwilling to accept that the government chose to save taxpayers almost $5 million dollars per year by selecting Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s (RLL) competitive bid, Panther Racing has sued IndyCar, the National Guard’s agency, RLL, and others.

Panther is seeking damages from the National Guard awarding RLL a sponsorship contract for the Indycar racing series. The facts and issues Panther raises in the lawsuit are many of the same it raised before the GAO, which issued a 9-page decision noting that RLL was rated higher than Panther in three out of four categories. The GAO also noted that there was no evidence supporting many of Panther’s allegations, and that the National Guard’s decision probably was driven by the basic fact that Panther’s base per year price was approximately $5 million more than RLL’s base price. A copy of the GAO’s decision is attached.

RLL believes it is unfortunate and disappointing that Panther has filed a lawsuit making serious allegations against the National Guard’s decision process. RLL also believes that Panther’s lawsuit has no merit as a matter of fact and law. RLL’s lawyers will vigorously defend RLL so it can focus on what matters most — representing the courageous men and women of the National Guard and winning races.

The full decision from the GAO can be found here.

Since landing the National Guard sponsorship, RLL has shifted focus to putting together backing for a second car alongside Graham Rahal in the No. 15 Honda.

F1 Mexican Grand Prix on NBC, NBCSN, App this week

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Lewis Hamilton is poised to wrap his fourth Formula 1 World Championship early at this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix, as NBC Sports covers the 18th of 20 rounds this season from the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.

Expanded TV coverage comes this weekend on NBC, NBCSN and the NBC Sports App.

All sessions will air live. Both Friday practice sessions are live on NBCSN at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. ET. Saturday third practice airs live via the NBC Sports App at 11 a.m. ET with a practice replay show at 12:30 p.m. before live qualifying at 2 p.m. ET, those two on NBCSN.

On Sunday, race day, F1 Countdown starts at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC leading to lights out and the race at 3 p.m. ET. Post-race coverage continues on NBC for one hour, from 5 to 6 p.m. ET.

Mercedes AMG Petronas has won both Mexican Grands Prix since the race was reinstated in 2015 after a 23-year hiatus. Nico Rosberg won in 2015 a race after Hamilton had clinched that year’s title, while Hamilton won last year in a 1-2 with Rosberg continuing to close on his first title.

Controversy reined about third place in Mexico last year with all of Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and ultimately Daniel Ricciardo ending in third, Ricciardo getting the podium after post-race penalties were assessed to the other two. Valtteri Bottas is the other active podium finisher in Mexico, having come third in 2015 with Williams.

Vettel enters Mexico 66 points behind Hamilton and can only keep the title alive to Brazil if he gets the gap under 50 points; any top-five finish for Hamilton will ensure the Englishman equals Vettel on four titles. So if Vettel doesn’t finish first or second, he can’t score enough points (either 25 or 18) to get that gap under 50 markers.

Last year’s race featured a bit of a “Noah’s Ark” finishing order with just the top five teams in the championship scoring points at this race, almost in descending order of just two-by-two. It was two Mercedes, then two Red Bulls, then two Ferraris, then Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India before the two Williams, and finally hometown hero Sergio Perez in the second Force India.

Perez is the lone home favorite this race with Esteban Gutierrez not on the grid this season.

Here’s the F1 schedule, with stream links and TV network if applicable:

  • Practice 1: Friday, Oct. 27, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Practice 2: Friday, Oct. 27, 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Practice 3: Saturday, Oct. 28, 11 a.m.-12 p.m. ET (Streaming)
  • Practice 3 (Replay): Saturday, Oct. 28, 12:30 p.m.-2 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Qualifying: Saturday, Oct. 28, 2 p.m.-3:45 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Pre-Race: Sunday, Oct. 29, 2:30 p.m.-3 p.m. ET (NBC)
  • Race: Sunday, Oct. 29, 3 p.m.-5 p.m. ET (NBC)
  • Post-Race: Sunday, Oct. 29, 5 p.m.-6 p.m. ET (NBC)
  • Race (Replay): Sunday, Oct. 29, 8:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)

The next race is the Brazilian Grand Prix, on November 12.