During the announcement today that Hy-Vee Inc. will back both races at the 0.875-mile oval near Newton, IA. after this year’s hiatus, Randy Edeker, chairman, CEO, and president of the Des Moines, IA-based supermarket chain revealed that Hy-Vee would also become a full-season primary sponsor of a Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Honda. Motorsport.com has since confirmed with team co-owner and three-time IndyCar champion Bobby Rahal that this will be the third entry.
So far this year, the #45 Hy-Vee car has racked up four top 10s in five races with Santino Ferrucci, including a sixth place at the Indianapolis 500. Last weekend, it was taken over by Formula 2 star Christian Lundgaard who on his IndyCar debut qualified a remarkable fourth, before coming home 12th. Edeker told the media:
“We started in 2020 with a simple one-time partnership that was brought to us by Tom Boehland of Citrus Systems, who came to us and asked if we wanted to be on the #15 Graham Rahal car for the Iowa Speedway IndyCar race. We said, ‘Absolutely,’ and then Graham podiumed that day with a Hy-Vee logo. And we got so many comments from suppliers and customers that we started to think about the possibility of running a partial season with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. They’ve been absolutely phenomenal – Bobby Rahal, David Letterman, and Mike Lanigan.
“We ran the #45 car in a partnership with PepsiCo at the Indianapolis 500, and Santino Ferrucci finished sixth – very proud of that.
“And then [Iowa] Gov. Reynolds came to visit one day and mentioned to me that she would like our help in trying to bring IndyCar back to Iowa after a one-year sabbatical. She was very persuasive and asked me if I would dig into it and start to work on it. We started meeting with Penske Racing and that grew into a bigger opportunity and so we’re really excited to be here.
“So there’s a couple of announcements. The very first today is that Hy-Vee working with Penske, and being nudged by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and the governor to look at putting on a race at the Iowa Speedway, are proud to announce that on July 23 we’ll be putting on the HyVeeDeals.com 250 at the Iowa Speedway… and then on Sunday, July 24, the Hy-Vee Salute to Farmer 300. We wanted to pay homage to the roots of the state, the men and women who farm here in the state, and the industry that supports it… We’ve got great partners, a great plan put together so we’re really excited to be able to do that.
“The other thing that I’d like to show you today is that we are going to be running a full-time car next year with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. There are three colors of that car – this [red] is the first, we’ll have a black car for part of the year, and a white car for part of the year. We’re really excited about it.
“You can see that it’s Hy-Vee and only HyVeeDeals.com that will be on that car; that’s another decision that we’ve made, running that car strictly as Hy-Vee. It really ties into a larger digital strategy that we have and ties in with some plans that we have around marketing, advertising, and promoting the company throughout all of the IndyCar season next year.”
Speculation over the identity of the third driver continues to swirl, as current Meyer Shank Racing driver Jack Harvey is hotly tipped to join Graham Rahal in 2022. Takuma Sato remains in talks with the team for whom he has driven for five years – four consecutive – and scored four wins including the 2020 Indianapolis 500. However, the team is known to be looking at options, both series veterans and potential novices. What Bobby Rahal has stipulated is that the third car will be driven by a full-time rather than shared by a road/street course driver and an oval specialist.
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