Rahal Lost His Two Fastest Laps Due to Bringing Out the Red Flag on a Wet Track in St. Pete Qualifying; Will Start 21st

1)  Takuma Sato   1:01.8686 / 104.738 mph      

21)  Graham Rahal  No Time / No Speed (fastest lap/omitted – 1:15.200, wet conditions)

SUMMARY: The start of the three-round qualifying session was delayed more that three hours after an afternoon storm. Rahal was in Group 1 that took to a wet track for their session on rain tires. Conditions improved as each round took place and teams installed racing “slick” tires. Graham lost control of the race 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.  Instead, Ryan Briscoe set the sixth fastest time (1:15.6860) and progressed.

GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 National Guard Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “I just messed up. I went into Turn 4, thought I was under control, thought I broke pretty well but all of a sudden the right front locked and I just went straight on (into the tires). Unfortunately we did a lap time that would have advanced us but the lap time doesn’t count. Obviously I’m very disappointed. I would have liked to advance but I didn’t do a good enough job today so we’re going to have our work cut out for us in the race.”

  • FAST FACTS: Will make his SEVENTH start at this track.  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 as the youngest driver to do so… 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 qualified ninth, led 19 laps and won in his series debut in 2008 at the age of 19 years, 93 days old… His highest series start is pole at St. Pete (2009; street) and Kansas (2009; oval) and his highest finish is a win in St. Pete (2008) in his IndyCar Series debut to make him the youngest winner in series history at 19 years, 93 days old.

SEVENTH ST. PETE EVENT FOR RLL: This will mark the seventh IndyCar race for the team in St. Pete and the 12th car entered. The team prepared Indy cars for Danica Patrick (2005, 2006), Buddy Rice (2005, 2006), Vitor Meira (2005), Jeff Simmons (2007), Scott Sharp (2007), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2008), Takuma Sato (2012), Graham Rahal (2013) and James Jakes (2013) prior to this year. The team led the 2012 race for 11 laps with Takuma Sato and for four laps with Hunter-Reay in 2008 (G. Rahal won) and has earned three top-10 finishes with the best being fifth by Meira in 2005.  The highest starting position by the team is sixth place by Hunter-Reay in 2008.

NEXT UP:  Morning warm-up from 10:00-10:45 a.m. ET. Qualifying will take place from 2:00-3:10 PM.  Timing and Scoring information is available for all sessions from www.indycar.com.  The season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be televised live on ABC at 3:00 PM ET Sunday, March 30.

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