Rahal Looks Forward to Chance to Better His 2016 Fifth Place Finish in the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Pre-Race Notes

Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix – Phoenix International Raceway

Round 4 of 17 in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series

 

DATE:

Friday – Saturday, April 28-29, 2017

 

PRACTICE BROADCAST:            

All sessions not broadcast on NBCSN will be streamed live on the IndyCar Series website (+ live analysis from the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, AAPIRN), YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, and the INDYCAR17 app.

 

QUALIFYING BROADCAST:      

Tape delayed on NBCSN, Saturday, April 29 beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET. Live on the AAPIRN, the INDYCAR17 app and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis)

 

RACE BROADCAST:

Live on NBC Sports Network beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 29 and on the INDYCAR17 app. The race will also air live on the AAPIRN, Sirius 212, XM 209 and www.indycar.com

 

TRACK LAYOUT:

1.022-mile oval

RACE LENGTH:

250 laps / 255.5 miles

 

RLLR TOP START/FINISH AT PHOENIX:                   

2nd by Bobby Rahal in 1992 / 1st by Bobby Rahal in 1992 (led all 200); will be 9th event for team and second since 2005 here

RAHAL’S BEST START/FINISH IN PHOENIX:

19th / 5th – one race here in 2016

RAHAL’S HIGHEST SERIES START/FINISH:

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

 

NEWS & NOTES: 

RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY

The 2017 Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) will mark the ninth Indy car race for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLLR) at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR), and second since 2005.  In only the second race for the team, then named Rahal Hogan Racing, Bobby Rahal led all 200 laps en route to victory with a margin of 22.35-seconds over Eddie Cheever and third place Emerson Fittipaldi in 1992. Over the years, the team has prepared a total of 12 cars for races at PIR: Bobby Rahal (1992-1995), Mike Groff (1994), Raul Boesel (1995), Kenny Brack (2003), Buddy Rice (2004-2005), Vitor Meira (2005), Danica Patrick (2005) and Graham Rahal (2016). A list of results is available upon request.

GRAHAM ON HIS 2016 TOP-FIVE FINISH

The 2016 race at PIR marked the first for the IndyCar Series since 2005, and Graham Rahal’s debut at the track. He started 19th and passed two cars (Daly, Hawksworth) on the start and later moved into 16th when Luca Filippi had a problem. He was in 15th place when he made his first stop and the crew gained two positions in the pits.  He moved into the top 10 near the halfway point of the 250-lap race and was on his “in laps” of his second and third stops when a caution period came out but was able to continue on low fuel each time until the pits opened. He ran as high as third, which is the position he was running in when he entered his pit for his third and final stop but lost a spot to Simon Pagenaud. He was passed by Tony Kanaan on Lap 223 of 250 and was in fifth place when the final caution came out for debris with a few laps to go and the race ended under yellow.  A top-five finish in Round 4 of the 2017 season would be welcome by Rahal.

“We had a good race last year with a top-five finish.  Our starting position wasn’t the greatest so we need to work on that and try to improve but in the race I think we were very good.  We were patient and saved a lot of fuel when we needed to and the guys did a great job in the pits too.  It was a good, consistent and steady race last year and with the way our season has gone so far this year, that’s something that we could really use.”

GRAHAM ON EXPECTATIONS AT PIR

“Overall this year I have expected to be very competitive and we have struggled a little. I hope that Phoenix is a place that we can get back on track in terms of our expectations. Our hope is that we can have a good car to go racing with and put the United Rentals Honda in Victory Lane while racking up more money for Turns for Troops and Soldier Strong in the process.”

GRAHAM ON THE MINDSET ADJUSTMENT FOR THE FIRST OVAL RACE OF THE SEASON

The Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix will be Round 4 of 17 in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season. The first three events were held on road and street courses and this will be the first oval race of the season. The series held an open test at PIR on Feb 10-11 and in the fourth and final session over two days, Rahal lost control of his race car and made light contact with the wall which ended the test an hour early. Racing in the tight confines of an oval requires a different mindset than on road and street courses.  Rahal is looking forward to the different challenge and a chance to better his fifth place finish from last year.

“I think it does take a different mindset to go into the first oval race of the season. We haven’t had the best results at tests but having said that, we were decent up until the moment that things went wrong (crash). We learned from our mistake, we figured out what we did wrong. Now when we go back, we should be better. Hopefully we can improve the car, improve the chassis balance a little bit, particularly in race trim. The car handling didn’t feel bad at the test in general but we would always like to be faster if possible. That’s the nature of racing.”

GRAHAM ON THE CHALLENGES OF THE SUN SETTING DURING THE RACE

The 250-lap race is expected to go green at 6:35 p.m. MST on Saturday, April 29 and sunset is projected at 7:09 p.m. This timing provides another challenge for drivers.

“The sun is right in your eyes going into Turn 1. For the race, you have to wear two different types of tear offs – clear tear offs and then tinted ones with either a very light tint or clear visor. It definitely makes your life tough. It’s not an easy thing to adjust to but it’s the same for everybody. All you hope for is that it’s safe and that everything goes okay because sometimes in those conditions it’s difficult to see. You would hate to have someone lose it out of Turn 4 or into Turn 1 and not see them and catch it too late.”

BOBBY RAHAL AT PIR

Team co-owner Bobby Rahal competed at PIR 16 times between 1982-1995 including two races in 1982, 1984 and 1986 but missed the race in 1983 due to a pre-race warm-up accident that injured a significant number of crew members and forced the team to withdraw from the race. Driver Bob Ward lost control of his race car in the pits and crashed into the back of Bobby’s car that was being worked on in his pit box. In addition to injuring several crew members who would not be able to perform pit stops due to broken bones, the impact broke the bell housing on Rahal’s race car. In total, he won two races (1984 – Race 2, 1992), one pole (1986 – Race 2) and earned six podium finishes (2nd: 1987, 1990, 1991; 3rd: 1986). He finished in the top-five eight times, made four front-row starts and nine starts in the top-five.   Bobby Rahal will participate in pre-race ceremonies at PIR that will feature legends of the sport.

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