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.

Supercross: Talon Hawkins to debut in Houston in relief of Jalek Swoll

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Talon Hawkins, 19, will make his Monster Energy Supercross debut on a 250 this week in Houston, Texas as a fill-in rider for Jalek Swoll.

During the Anaheim 2 weekend, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team announced Swoll underwent successful surgery to repair a broken arm suffered in a practice crash.

That same weekend, Hawkins made some noise. He took the lead from teammate Casey Cohran on Lap 2 of the 250 SX Futures Main and led for three laps before he was overtaken by eventual winner Daxton Bennick. Cochran also got around him to push Hawkins to third.

This will not be Hawkins SuperMotocross professional debut, however; he made three Lucas Oil Pro Motocross starts last year with results of 19th at Spring Creek in Millville, Minnesota, 27th at Ironman in Crawfordsville, Indiana and a best finish of 17th in the season finale at Fox Raceway in Pala, California.

Hawkins also has a top-10 finish in the 125 All-Star division at Pala in 2019 riding a Husqvarna.

Speaking with RacerXOnline.com before the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals, Hawkins predicted his future with Husqvarna would come down to how he performed in that race.

“It all just comes down to how I perform at Loretta’s,” Hawkins said. “Say I do really well, I get a top three in both classes and do a pretty solid job, I would like to go pro and just kind of finish out the rest of the series. But there’s also the option of waiting a little bit longer, going back out to [Aldon] Baker’s [Factory] or going anywhere and training, and just being prepared. I’m also open to that too. Honestly, it’s whatever the team wants. Whatever we think is the best option is what we’re going to go with. So, I don’t really have a plan right now, just looking into the future.”

Hawkins finished third overall in the 125 B/C and Schoolboy divisions at the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals.