Graham Rahal to Join Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing; TBC Retail Group and Valvoline to Sponsor Entry

INDIANAPOLIS (November 14, 2012) – In a long-anticipated move, Graham Rahal, 23, has signed a multi-year contract to compete in the IZOD IndyCar Series for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) – a team his father, 1986 Indi­anapolis 500 winner and three-time Indy car cham­pion Bobby Rahal co-owns with CBS LATE SHOW host David Letterman and Mi-Jack co-owner Michael Lanigan.  TBC Retail Group, who has spon­sored Graham since 2010, will be the primary sponsor while Valvo­line will be a major asso­ciate sponsor.
 
“It’s extremely exciting for me to join Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing full­time,” said Graham Rahal. “It’s some­thing that I thought really wouldn’t happen this early in my career but, at this point, it absolutely makes the most sense for us. For me, this is prob­ably the most excited I have been to join any team because I see the poten­tial behind what my dad and the rest of the team have been able to accom­plish over the last year with Takuma. And knowing the devel­op­ment and other things that the team will now have the time to do to prepare for the season makes me more than thrilled to be here.  I can’t wait for the whole process to begin – the testing and obvi­ously going racing!  It’s really an exciting time for me.”
 
TBC Retail Group oper­ates more than 2700 fran­chised and company oper­ated tire and auto­mo­tive service centers under the brands Tire Kingdom®, Merchant’s Tire & Auto Centers®, NTB-National Tire & Battery®, Big O Tires®, Midas®, and SpeeDee Oil & Tune-Up®.  Valvo­line, a brand of Ashland Inc., has been serving Amer­ican motorists longer than any other motor oil and is a leading, world­wide producer and distrib­utor of premium-branded auto­mo­tive, commer­cial and indus­trial lubri­cants and car-care prod­ucts.
 
“We are excited to sponsor Graham again this year in part­ner­ship with Valvo­line,” said Orland Wolford, CEO TBC Retail Group, Service Central. “He is an excep­tional ambas­sador for our brands. Not to mention, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has the equip­ment and exper­tise to keep him running in the front of the pack.”
 
“This oppor­tu­nity solid­i­fies our great working rela­tion­ship with TBC Retail,” added Tom Gerrald, vice pres­i­dent of Valvo­line Installer Channel. “We’re thrilled to be a part of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and continue our Valvo­line racing heritage by working with Graham Rahal.” 
 
The 2013 season will mark the seventh in a top-tier open wheel racing series for the 23-year-old, who became the youngest winner in major auto racing history when he drove to victory in his first IndyCar Series race at the 2008 Honda Grand Prix of St. Peters­burg 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. 
 
Graham Rahal made one start in an RLL-prepared Indy car where he qual­i­fied seventh and finished 12th in the 2010 Indy 500.  In 91 Indy car starts, he has earned 19 top-five finishes — including his 2008 win at St. Peters­burg — 44 top-10’s, and led a total of 116 laps.  In addi­tion he won poles at St. Peters­burg (street course) and Kansas Speedway (oval) in 2009.  The younger Rahal come close to winning again earlier this season as he led the closing laps at Texas Motor Speedway before a slight brush of the wall with two laps to go forced him to settle for second place.
 
RLL returned to full-time IZOD IndyCar Series compe­ti­tion in 2012 for the first time since 2008 and was a contender for victory in multiple events including the Indi­anapolis 500 with Takuma Sato.  The team won the 1992 IndyCar cham­pi­onship as well as the 2004 Indi­anapolis 500 from pole and RLL Indy cars have finished in the top 10 in more than half of its 602 career series starts.
 
Bobby Rahal, co-owner of RLL:  “I think this is a great moment for our family, for the team and for the sport and I thank TBC Retail Group and Valvo­line for making it possible.  Of course, for me, the pres­sure is really on us to deliver the goods so that Graham can realize all the poten­tial he has. I think we can create an envi­ron­ment that will allow him to fulfill that poten­tial. The last time Graham was the leader of the team was when he was with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing in 2009. For only a 20 year old kid, he won a couple of poles, had a number of very good races, was very compet­i­tive and finished seventh in the cham­pi­onship.  If we give him that level of focus I think he can do even better than that so I am quite excited about the poten­tial although, as I said, the sense of commit­ment that we now have to make sure we deliver the goods has prob­ably never been higher.  I think it is great for the team and I really look forward to seeing Graham’s helmet in our car.  As a team, having both him and I here is like a two-for-one special for ourselves, our spon­sors, and the poten­tial spon­sors we are talking to.”
 
David Letterman, co-owner of RLL:  “Very excited to have Graham Rahal on the team.  Honestly, this will be our best chance yet to win the cham­pi­onship, the 500 and Dancing with the Stars.”
 
Michael Lanigan, co-owner of RLL: “Need­less to say the Rahal Letterman Lanigan team is ecstatic to bring Graham back home and working with Bobby and all our people in Indy Car.  Graham has driven for me in the past going back to when he first broke into racing as a teenager and has been a winner in every series of our asso­ci­a­tion. He has always proven out his driving talents and matu­rity both on and off the track. Having the support and part­ner­ship with Service Central and Valvo­line has made this happen. I would like to person­ally thank them and look forward to winning races for these two fine compa­nies for many years to come.”
 
About TBC Corpo­ra­tion
Head­quar­tered in Juno Beach, Florida, TBC Retail Group, Inc., a subsidiary of TBC Corpo­ra­tion, oper­ates more than 2700 fran­chised and company-operated tire and auto­mo­tive service centers under the brands Tire Kingdom®, Merchant’s Tire & Auto Centers®, NTB-National Tire & Battery®, Big O Tires®, Midas®, and SpeeDee Oil & Tune-Up®. The contin­gent of stores has trained and certi­fied ASE tech­ni­cians who use state-of-the-art equip­ment to provide quality service on cars and trucks. TBC is owned by Sumitomo Corpo­ra­tion of America (SCOA). SCOA is the largest subsidiary of Sumitomo Corpo­ra­tion (SC), one of Japan’s major inte­grated trading and invest­ment busi­ness enter­prises.
 
About Valvo­line
Valvo­line™, a brand of Ashland Inc. (NYSE: ASH), has been serving Amer­ican motorists longer than any other motor oil. In addi­tion to commer­cial and indus­trial lubri­cants, the Valvo­line family of prod­ucts includes Eagle One™ appear­ance prod­ucts, Car Brite™ car restora­tion prod­ucts, Zerex™ antifreeze, SynPower™ perfor­mance prod­ucts, MaxLife prod­ucts created for higher-mileage engines, and NextGen motor oil created with 50 percent recy­cled, re-refined oil. With more than 860 loca­tions throughout the United States, Valvo­line Instant Oil Change™ is a leader in serving the quick lube market, and is looking for fran­chisee part­ners to estab­lish a pres­ence for the brand in markets across the country.
 
About Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, based in Hilliard, Ohio and Browns­burg, Ind., is co-owned by three-time IndyCar Cham­pion and 1986 Indi­anapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, CBS LATE SHOW host David Letterman and Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan.  In 2013 the team will begin their 22nd year of open wheel compe­ti­tion and attempt to add to their 20 wins – including the 2004 Indy 500 from pole with Buddy Rice — their 29 poles and 1992 series cham­pi­onship.  The team also competes in the Amer­ican Le Mans Series as BMW Team RLL where they won both the Manu­fac­turer and Team Cham­pi­onships in the GT cate­gory in 2010 and swept all three GT titles in 2011 — Manu­fac­turer, Team and Driver. In 2012, the team finished second in the Team Cham­pi­onship and third in the Manu­fac­turer Cham­pi­onship.
 

 – RLL -

 
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