Filippi Fourth Fastest in Practice for the Shell and Pennzoil GP of Houston in IndyCar His Return; Rahal 14th and Pleased with Progress

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston – NRG Park, Houston

Verizon IndyCar Series

PRACTICE NOTES/QUOTES – Friday, June 27, 2014



FASTEST:   Simon Pagenaud     1:00.1415 / 97.809 mph

4th:               Luca Filippi              1:00.6735 / 96.952 mph       (3rd in afternoon session)

14th:            Graham Rahal          1:00.9989 / 96.435 mph      (11th in afternoon session)


GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 National Guard Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “I think the National Guard car is very competitive and I think there is more time in it.  We didn’t get a run on new tires so we don’t really know its potential but I think it’s probably a top-five car at this point. I just have to keep working on myself and find a bit more speed. I think we’re learning; we’ve just got to keep going forward. I think we will have a pretty competitive car tomorrow. It’s hot, there’s no doubt about it but we’ll be alright. It’s going to be a survival of the fittest and hopefully we’re one of them. I feel pretty good out of the car.  The front straight is significantly better. It’s a hard thing to do and they’ve done a phenomenal job with it.”

  • FAST FACTS: Will be his be his fourth Indy car race here and fifth overall… His first Indy car race here was Round 3 of the Champ Car World Series on April 22, 2007 and he became the youngest driver to earn a Champ Car podium with his second place finish at the age of 18 years, 3 months and 18 days. Rahal skipped his prom to compete in Houston and qualified sixth. His second place brought Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing a 1-2 finish with teammate Bourdais’ win from a second place start… Last year he set the 10th fastest time in Group 2 of qualifying on Saturday to earn a 19th place starting position but was assessed a 10-grid penalty for an unapproved engine change and started 24th. The team employed good pit strategy and he was able to move up to a seventh place finish… Qualifying for Race 2 in Houston was cancelled due to standing water on the course so the field was set by Entrant Points and Graham started the race 19th. He was hit on the opening lap by Simona de Silvestro who was penalized for “avoidable contact” and had to pit for a new nose which put him a lap down. Later he tagged the wall and had to pit for a new rear wing which dropped him another lap down and he ultimately finished 18th… He also competed in the 2006 Atlantic race here where he started third and was in second place when he collided with Raphael Matos while attempting to take the lead with three laps to go and finished 15th… His best finish this season is second place in Detroit Dual 1 and best start is ninth – also in Detroit Dual 1.

LUCA FILIPPI, No. 16 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “It was a great day. I was obviously very motivated but to finish in the top three (in the second practice) is amazing. We have to keep our feet on the ground and work harder because it’s going to be a long weekend with two races but we have the opportunity to do well obviously. So we just have to do a clean job. At the moment I feel good with the car. There are some things we can still improve to suit my driving style but my confidence is good and I feel very thankful to the team, to Bobby and everybody who is working with me to make this happen.”

  • FAST FACTS: Will be his third and fourth Indy car races here. He competed in the doubleheader races in Houston in 2013. He qualified eighth for Race 1 and finished 10th which is his best start and finishing positions to date of his four series races. Qualifying for Race 2 was cancelled due to standing water on the course so the field was set by Entrant Points and Luca started the race 23rd due to his lack of points in his partial season, set the fastest race lap (Lap 86/90) and finished 19th… It is his first IndyCar race since last year at Houston and first time in a race car since he competed in a GT car in Europe in December ’13.

RLL AT HOUSTON / LANIGAN’S ROLE IN EVENT: The event will mark the third (and fourth) time for the team to race at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Speedway at NRG Park. The team competed on the temporary circuit downtown around the George R. Brown Convention Center from 1998-2001 but this will mark the second year for RLL to compete at NRG Park. Team co-owner Mike Lanigan’s company, MJ Promotions, is the promoter of the event. The event will mark the fifth overall Indy car race at Reliant Park and second since the 2006 and 2007 Champ Car races that MJ Promotions also promoted. Last year the team finished seventh and 18th in races 1 & 2 respectively with Rahal and sixth and 17th with James Jakes.

NEXT UP: Qualifying for Race 1 will take place tomorrow morning from 10:00-11:10 a.m. CT. The first of two 90-lap races will take the Green Flag at 2:50 p.m. CT Saturday and be televised live on NBC Sports Network beginning at 3:00 ET. Timing and Scoring information is available for all sessions from

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