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Disappointment Doesn’t Dampen Buhl’s Desire for Another ‘500’ Entry

Robbie Buhl couldn’t believe what the video monitors were showing him in the final laps of the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge in August.

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES car fielded by Buhl, his brother, Tom, and business partners Rob and Nick Citrone as part of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing was competing admirably when suddenly, on Lap 195, the No. 45 Hy-Vee/Embrace Pittsburgh Honda driven by Spencer Pigot smashed the pit road attenuator and came to a nearly sudden stop.

The month had started so well for the new INDYCAR SERIES partnership, with Pigot positioned for a top-three finish in the GMR Grand Prix road race at IMS in July. Just as suddenly as in the “500,” a rare engine issue sidelined the car, robbing them of a chance at a spot on the podium. Now two weeks later, the car was in shambles at the north end of the track.

“That was almost in disbelief,” Buhl said.

Buhl was tremendously thankful for the safety innovations the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and its partners have developed over the years. Two drivers Buhl had raced with in his driving days – Kevin Cogan and Mark Dismore – suffered significant injuries in similar impacts with different versions of the attenuator, but Pigot climbed out of the car mostly unscathed.

“Pretty amazing the technology where the sport’s come from (as) Spencer walked away from that,” Buhl said. “Talking with him the next day he’s like, ‘Nah, actually I feel pretty good,’ which is incredible.”

From a results standpoint, Pigot and the Buhl/Citrone group were left with what could have been.

“If, if, if,” Buhl said. “It’s the biggest word in the dictionary.”

Buhl complimented the full-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES team co-owned by Bobby Rahal, David Letterman and Mike Lanigan, saying it “delivered on all fronts.” RLLR cemented its place in the record books by winning the 2020 race with Takuma Sato and finishing third with Graham Rahal. It was the first time in four years that one team placed a pair of drivers among the top three finishers.

As for this year’s race, set for May 30, Buhl said he and his partners “would very much like to continue” the program, but there are factors associated with the COVID-19 pandemic that must be resolved.

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