Graham Rahal Completed His First Test of 2013 and Ran 142 Trouble-Free Laps at Sebring International Raceway

SEBRING, Fla. (February 19, 2013) – Graham Rahal completed a trouble-free day of testing his No. 15 Midas / Big O Tires Honda-Dallara-Firestone race car today at the 1.65-mile Sebring Inter­na­tional Raceway short course in prepa­ra­tion for the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season.  He completed 142 laps with a best lap time of 52.67. 
“I think we made some great gains from the morning to the after­noon,” said Graham Rahal, 24. “We gained about six or seven tenths-of-a-second in the after­noon while others didn’t gain anything.  We’re not the fastest but we got ourselves in the ball­park by the end of the day.  The car, handling-wise, is starting to come to us. We made a lot of big changes that I think will point us in the right direc­tion, not only at Sebring but at a lot of the other tracks we will go to. I’m really pleased with the progress.”
“We had a strong test today, building on the December test we had here with Graham,” added tech­nical director Jay O’Connell.  “We were able to make some good improve­ments based on what we learned from our winter simu­la­tion and test work and it was good to see it trans­late into perfor­mance on the track and that Graham was able to use it to his advan­tage.” 
Earlier this month, the team announced that James Jakes will pilot the team’s second full-season entry and that it will be spon­sored by Acorn Stair­lifts. Prior to that, the team announced that Mike Conway would drive what will now be a third entry for the team at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 19 – 21. Both drivers were observers at the test today.  The next test for the team will take place at Barber Motor­sports Park March 12 – 13.
“Its going to be pretty busy between now and the Barber test,” said Rahal.  “We need to keep devel­oping the cars and I will keep working with Gerry (Hughes, race engi­neer) and the guys back at the shop. We will work on a set-up for Barber and I think we found a lot of things that will help us there no doubt. We feel good about that.  For me person­ally, I’ve got a commer­cial shoot this weekend then I am going to Florida next week to play in the Pro-Am at the Honda Classic which will be pretty cool.  It defi­nitely feels like the season is almost upon us.”
“It will be busy between now and the open test at Barber,’ agreed O’Connell.  “We have some cars to prepare for the Barber test and we need to digest the details and look at the data from what we learned today and apply it to our road course setup going into Barber. Since the Sebring layout is between a street course and road course, there are some things you can take from here for St. Pete and some things you can take from here for Barber which we will try at the open test on March 12 – 13.”
The 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season begins with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Peters­burg on March 24.  Graham Rahal became the youngest winner in major auto racing history when he drove to victory in his first IndyCar Series race at the 2008 event at the age of 19.  The following season he became the youngest pole winner at the same event – both while driving for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, a team co-owned by Michael Lanigan at the time.  Orlando resi­dent James Jakes will make his third start on the streets of St. Pete and first with RLL.
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