First Lap Contact Limited Steak ‘n Shake Driver Rahal to a 17th Place Finish in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Verizon IndyCar Series

NOTES/QUOTES — Sunday, March 12, 2017


GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “We had a good start, I went around the outside there. I don’t even know where Kimball was. Obviously he was on my right rear somewhere.  It’s just a frustrating way to start the year once again, just like last year.  Except this year we struggled a lot more throughout the entirety of the weekend and we just can’t do that going forward if we want to be good in this series. Obviously there is some rethinking to be done as we go forward and figure out a better plan in case of an emergency. Our guys did a great job on the stops all day; they were just put in a bad spot.  It was a tough day.”

  • FAST FACTS: Started 10th in his 10th race here and passed Rossi and Kimball on the opening lap but contact with Kimball in Turn 3 led to a punctured right rear as well as damage to his sidepod and rear wing. He pit for tires and the team assessed the damage and once he got back on track he went a lap down. Once he was cleared to pit for full service, the team changed the rear wing and he returned to the track in 19th place.  He moved into 18th when Pigot had an issue on Lap 29 and then late in the race moved into 17th when Power was black flagged for driving too slow…. His best start here is pole in 2009 and best finish is a win in 2008 in his IndyCar Series debut – both history-making moments. In 2016, he qualified seventh but started sixth after pole sitter Will Power was replaced by Oriol Servia due to a mild concussion and Servia started from the back of the field.  After a mid-race return to green conditions, he was running eighth, but sixth on the same fuel strategy, when Carlos Munoz dove into Turn 4 and hit him from behind which set off a pileup of more than eight cars that blocked the turn.  Once he was restarted, he had to pit for a new front and rear wing and ran 21st. Munoz was penalized for “avoidable contact.” Rahal moved up to a 16th place finish. In 2015, he started 15th and gained three spots on the first lap and ran as high as fifth place midway through the race but was penalized for “avoidable contact” after he made contact while trying to pass the damaged car of Charlie Kimball. He dropped to the back of the field and ultimately finished 11th…  In 2014, the start of qualifying was delayed over three hours after an afternoon storm. Rahal was in Group 1 that ran on a wet track on rain tires. Conditions improved as each of the three rounds took place and teams switched to “slick” tires. Rahal lost control of the car on the slick course and made contact with a tire barrier which brought out a red flag. His two fastest laps were omitted, one of which was sixth fastest and would have allowed him to progress to Round 2 and start in the top-12.  On the opening lap, Rahal charged from his 21st place starting spot to 12th and was in 14th when he made his first pit stop. Different pit strategies played out in a race that saw only 10 caution laps of 110 total. In the closing laps of the race, Rahal was 13th but lost a position to Bourdais with two laps to go and finished 14th… He qualified 15th in 2013 for RLL and was in ninth place when the team discovered an electrical issue on Lap 22 under caution that shut the engine off intermittently 6-7 times and dropped him to 21st place. He soldiered on to finish 13th…  He qualified 11th in 2012 and finished 12th and qualified 12th in 2011 and finished 17th – both for Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR)… He qualified 16th and finished 9th for Sarah Fisher Racing in 2010… While with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, he won pole in 2009 and finished seventh and in 2008 he qualified ninth, led 19 laps and won in his series debut at the age of 19 years, 93 days old… Has four IndyCar Series wins (2008 – St. Pete street course; 2015 – Fontana Super Speedway, Mid-Ohio road course; 2016 – Texas Super Speedway) and two poles (2009 – St. Pete street course, Kansas oval) and his highest series season-ending standing is fourth place in 2015.

NEXT UP:  Round 2 of the Verizon IndyCar Series is the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 7-9.

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