After Two Top-Four Finishes the Past Two Years Rahal is Hoping for A Breakthrough Weekend at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Pre-Race Notes

Grand Prix of Indianapolis – Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course

Round 5 of 17 in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series

DATE:

Friday – Saturday, May 12-13, 2017

QUALIFYING BROADCAST:      

Live on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network (AAPIRN), the INDYCAR 17 app and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis) from 4:20-5:35 p.m. ET

RACE BROADCAST:

Live on ABC, Saturday, May 13 at 3:30 p.m. ET

RADIO BROADCAST:

The race will air on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius 212, XM 209

 

TRACK LAYOUT:

2.439-mile, 14-turn road course

RACE LENGTH:

85 laps / 207.315  miles *3 laps longer than 2016*

2016 WINNER:                                 

Simon Pagenaud

2016 POLESITTER:                       

Simon Pagenaud (1:08.6868; 127.832 mph)

 

RLLR TOP START/FINISH AT IMS (ROAD):               

12th by Rahal in 2014/ 2nd by Rahal in 2015; three events

RAHAL’S BEST START/FINISH AT IMS (ROAD):

12th in 2014 (qualified 3rd in 2016 but DQ’d) / 2nd in 2015; three events

RAHAL’S HIGHEST SERIES START/FINISH:

Pole at St. Pete (street) 2009 & Kansas (oval) 2009 / 1st in St. Pete in 2008, Fontana (oval; 500 miles) 2015, Mid-Ohio (road) 2015; Texas (oval) 2016

 

NEWS & NOTES:

RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING & THE GP OF INDY

The Grand Prix of Indianapolis (GPI) will mark the fourth Verizon IndyCar Series race on the 2.439-mile road course. In 2016, Graham Rahal qualified third but was disqualified for the car being underweight and started 24th in the 25-car field but charged back to finish fourth.  Rookie Spencer Pigot qualified 18th and finished 11th.  In 2015, Rahal brought the team its highest finish here of second place after starting 17th.  In 2014, the team prepared an entry for Rahal and Oriol Servia. Rahal started 12th, ran as high as sixth and was 11th when he was hit by the lapped car of Montoya on a restart on Lap 51/82 and ultimately finished 21st.  Servia qualified 22nd and was struck by the flying tire of another car after the standing start. He was forced to pit for a new front wing which put him out of sequence.  Later he led seven laps but the team’s hope to capitalize on a caution flag didn’t pan out and he had to pit for a late-race splash of fuel which limited him to a 12th place finish. For 2016, RLL has entered the No. 15 Soldier Strong / TurnsforTroops.com Honda-Dallara-Firestone car for Graham Rahal.

 

RAHAL EXPECTING A BREAKOUT WEEKEND AFTER SECOND & FOURTH PLACE FINISHES HERE

The 2017 Grand Prix of Indianapolis will be Graham Rahal’s fourth Indy car race on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In 2016, he earned his best start of third place for the first time since 2012 (Texas) but his race car failed post qualifying tech inspection for being a few pounds too light and he had to start 24th in the 25-car field. Newgarden was also penalized for the same thing.  Contact between Bourdais and Kanaan on the start brought out a caution period and the team brought Rahal in on Lap 3 to top off his fuel. This allowed him to extend his next stint and he moved into the lead during the pit cycle before his second stop on Lap 25. He returned to the track in eighth place and made his third stop from seventh place during a caution for Bourdais. He was in eighth place when the race restarted and was able to pass Hunter-Reay and Dixon despite being on primary tires to their faster, alternate Firestone’s. He passed Kimball for fifth on Lap 47 and made his final stop on Lap 61. Once the pit cycle finished, he moved back into fifth and passed Daly on Lap 75 for fourth place, which he held until the checkered flag after 82 laps… In 2015, he finished second after starting 17th.  He moved to sixth on the opening lap after avoiding a multi-car accident and passed Filippi for fifth place on Lap 10. As others made their first pit stops he moved into the lead for laps 22-23 and gained valuable track position before he pitted at the end of Lap 23. He returned to the track in fifth place and moved into second a few laps later when three out-of-pit-sequence cars made their stops.  Leader Will Power pitted and Rahal returned to the lead on Laps 40-43 after being able to stretch his stint due to maintaining good fuel mileage compared to others. The team opted to stay on track one lap longer than previously determined before his second stop but at the pit exit Rahal closed on the car of Scott Dixon, who was returning to the track with cold tires and a heavy fuel load and slightly held up Rahal, who had a light fuel load and hot tires. Rahal pitted the next time by, at the end of Lap 43, and returned to the race in fifth place but again reclaimed second place a few laps later. While navigating lapped traffic earlier, most notably the 23rd place car of Josef Newgarden, who ran between he and Power, the gap to Power grew at times but he finally passed him after he returned to the track from his third and final stop. On Lap 63 of 82 he was -4.4 seconds behind Power but closed to -1.4 by Lap 70. He ultimately took the checkered flag 1.5 seconds behind the reigning series champion.  In the inaugural Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis in 2014, Rahal started 12th, ran as high as sixth and was 11th when he was hit by Montoya on a restart on Lap 51/82 and ultimately finished 21st.  After finishing second in 2015 and fourth in 2016, Rahal is looking forward to what he hopes to be a breakthrough weekend.

“Last year was obviously disappointing because we got the qualifying penalty. It was our best road course qualifying in years (since 2012). It would have been nice start third, be right up front, be able to attack (Simon) Pagenaud, as even he said before the race his main concern going into race day was me. When we started at the back we made his life a little bit easier. We feel like this is a place that we’ve had a lot of success, it’s a track that I really love and it’s an environment that I love and feed off of so I feel like the Grand Prix is going to be our breakthrough of the season so far.”

RAHAL ON WHY HE THINKS THE TEAM SHOULD BE COMPETITIVE AT THE GRAND PRIX OF INDIANAPOLIS

“We’ve worked very hard for this, worked hard focusing on the Month of May in particular. The guys deserve a good result. We have focused a lot of energy on making sure we have a good one.  We feel like the Soldier Strong / TurnsforTroops.com car should be pretty competitive. Yeah we have struggled at times this year but I feel like, out of the box, we should be there, competitive-wise, at the Grand Prix and be able to attack pretty good.  Overall I’m excited to get going.  We had great strategy last year and obviously passed a lot of cars.  We had a really good restart towards the end of the race which gained us a couple more positions.  After that first long run and pit sequence we went from 17th or 18th to eighth so we made our lives a lot easier from that perspective and we just need to do the same thing this year.  We need to stick to our plan .  A couple of times this year we haven’t been so good at that.  I think that if we stick to our plan and perform the way that we know we can, it should be a really good event for us.”

RAHAL ON WHAT HE BELIEVES MAKES IT ONE OF THE BEST ROAD COURSES

The 14-turn, 2.43-mile track produces excellent imagery with the iconic landmarks throughout the background but more importantly, Rahal believes it is one of the best road courses the series races on.

“It’s just a great track, its top notch from a facility standpoint, which is going to surprise nobody. But from a facility standpoint, it’s what an Indy car track should be. The curbing is built properly, the runoff is nice, the fans support it really well which, as a driver is one of the biggest keys, one of the things that get us excited to go to a place. It’s just a great event.”

-RLL-