Rahal Returns to Texas Aiming for Repeat of 2016 Win There and a Third Straight IndyCar Series Victory

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Rainguard Water Sealers 600 – Texas Motor Speedway

Pre-Race Notes

Round 9 of 17 in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series

 

DATE:

June 9-10, 2017

 

PRACTICE BROADCASTS:         

Live Friday, June 9 at 11 AM ET and 6:45 PM ET on Indycar.com, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

QUALIFYING BROADCAST:      

Live on NBCSN on June 9 at 3:30 p.m. ET and live on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network (AAPIRN), the INDYCAR 17 app and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis).

RACE BROADCAST:

Live on Saturday, June 10 at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN

RADIO BROADCAST:

The race will air on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius 212 and XM 209

 

TRACK LAYOUT:

1.455-mile oval

RACE LENGTH:

248 laps / 360.84 miles

2016 WINNER:                                 

Graham Rahal

2016 POLESITTER:                       

Carlos Munoz (2-lap average speed of 217.137 mph)

 

RAHAL’S BEST OVAL START/FINISH:

Pole at Kansas 2009 / 1st in Fontana 2015 (500 miles), 1st in Texas 2016 

 

RAHAL’S BEST TMS START/FINISH:

3rd in 2012 / 1st in 2016; will be his 10th race here

 

RAHAL’S HIGHEST SERIES START/FINISH:

Pole at St. Pete (street) 2009, Kansas (oval) 2009, Detroit (street) 2017 / 1st in St. Pete in 2008, Fontana (oval; 500 miles) 2015, Mid-Ohio (road) 2015, Texas (oval) 2016; Detroit Race 1 (street) 2017, Detroit Race 2 2017

 

RLLR’S TOP START/FINISH AT TMS:                              

1st by Scott Sharp 2007 / 1st by Graham Rahal 2016

 

NEWS & NOTES: 

TEAM RETURNS TO TMS TO DEFEND 2016 HISTORY-MAKING WIN

The 2017 Rainguard Water Sealers 600 will mark the 15th event for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLLR) at the 1.5-mile, high-banked Texas Motor Speedway oval.  The team’s highest start of pole with Scott Sharp came in 2007 and highest finish of first came in 2016 with Graham Rahal.  The team earned another front row start in 2004 when Buddy Rice qualified second.  Overall the team has earned four top-five finishes and seven top-10’s at the track.

Prior to the 2017 event, the team prepared a total of 20 entries for drivers such as Kenny Brack (2003 x2), Buddy Rice (2004 x2; 2005, 2006), Vitor Meira (2004 x2; 2005), Danica Patrick (2005, 2006), Jeff Simmons (2007), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2008), Jay Howard (2011, Schmidt/RLL) Takuma Sato (2012), James Jakes (2013) and Graham Rahal (2013-2016).  The No. 15 entry for Graham Rahal will bring that total to 21 in 2017.

GRAHAM ON MOMENTUM AFTER DOUBLE WINS IN DETROIT

After winning both races in Detroit, Rahal became the first repeat winner of the 2017 IndyCar Series season after eight of 17 races. His wins Saturday from pole and Sunday from third place were done in dominant fashion after he led 96 of 140 total laps.  He scored all but one point of the maximum offered in Detroit to catapult him from his 15th place rank entering the weekend to sixth with a total of 251, only 52 behind leader Scott Dixon (303).

“It’s great to head to Texas not only as defending race winner, but also after a great weekend in Detroit. Those wins put us back in the championship fight and we want to continue the momentum obviously. I’m excited about Texas.  We had a good test there in April so hopefully we can get another victory there and keep this string going. I think it’s going to be a crazy race.  Honda has been working hard and it shows.  We hope to put them in Victory Lane again.”

GRAHAM ON HIS RECOLLECTION OF THE HISTORY-MAKING WIN, ONE YEAR LATER

The originally scheduled June 11, and then June 12 Firestone 600 was postponed to August 27 due to rain. Once the race resumed, Rahal emerged victorious with a dramatic, last lap pass to win in the closest finish in TMS history — a scant 0.0080-seconds ahead of James Hinchcliffe.

“It was a good day obviously and a very, very competitive race. It was also challenging. As much as went for us, went against us and there were a lot of things we had to battle through but overall it was a very special day.  To get a win and cap what was somewhat of a difficult season off that way felt great.  Those are some special memories for me.  My grandmother passed away that day so there was a lot going through my mind afterward.  I didn’t know it at the time.  Texas Motor Speedway is an exciting place. I’m looking forward to going back and hopefully getting another victory.

“There was a lot going on the last lap.  I was fighting and battling with Hinch (Hinchcliffe). I felt like my best move was that I needed to complete the pass on the bottom –I didn’t think that I would be able to go up top and get it done.  Fortunately the seas kind of parted on the back straightaway and I was able to cut to the bottom, get a good clean run and get by him. As you can see on the videos, he certainly closed up a lot on the back straight and made it close but fortunately we made it across the line first.”

GRAHAM’S OVERALL RESULTS AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

In his nine races here, his best start came in 2012 of third and best finish is his win in 2016. The June 11, 2016 race was postponed until June 12 due to rain which again postponed the race to August 27 after the field complete 71 of 248 scheduled laps before rain came again.  Rahal had qualified 13th for the race and was in 12th when it was halted.  On August 27, he restarted on Lap 72 and quickly moved to sixth place. He maintained a top-five position the majority of the time except after pitting and never was lower than eighth.  He ran second many times and only led once – the final lap – and won by a margin of victory of 0.0080-of a second in what is the fifth-closest finish in Indy car history and the closest finish at Texas Motor Speedway. In 2015, he qualified sixth and finished 15th.  In 2014, he qualified 21st and finished 12th and in 2013 he qualified 19th and finished 21st after struggling with the handling of his race car. He qualified third in 2012, led 27 laps and looked close to earning what would have been his second series victory but a slight brush of the wall with two laps to go forced him to settle for second place with Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR).  He qualified 20th for the first of two heat races in 2011 and finished ninth with SCCGR. He drew the fourth starting spot for Race 2 in 2011 and finished 30th.  He did not compete in Texas in 2010 during his partial season of competition.  He qualified 12th with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) in 2009 but retired in 22nd place after contact. In 2008, he qualified 18th and finished 11th with NHLR.

COMMEMORATIVE RAHAL BOBBLEHEAD AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

The first 20,000 fans attending the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 at TMS on Saturday, June 10 will receive a limited-edition bobblehead in Rahal’s likeness to commemorate his history-making 2016 win. There is also a life-sized version that will be included in a display that TMS will showcase year round.  Bobbleheads of former RLLR driver Danica Patrick and fellow NASCAR star Kevin Harvick are also part of the 2017 TMS bobblehead series. Rahal is excited to share this experience with fans.

“I’m pretty geeked; it’s pretty cool. I’m thankful to Eddie (Gossage), Ziz (Mike Zizzo) and everybody at TMS for making it happen for me. It’s a pretty cool opportunity. I will enjoy it while I can and certainly get a lot of ‘you know what’ from my wife and family but I’m going to enjoy it, that’s for sure.”

DOUBLEHEADER WINS CATAPULTED RAHAL INTO POINTS BATTLE NEAR HALFWAY POINT

After racking up all but one point over the two-race-weekend in Detroit, Rahal catapulted from a pre-Detroit point standing of 15th place to sixth heading into Round 9 of 17 at Texas Motor Speedway. He has a total of 251 points and trails leader Scott Dixon by 52 (303), second place Helio Castroneves by 44 (295), third place Takuma Sato by 41 (292), fourth place Simon Pagenaud by 27 (278), and fifth place Josef Newgarden by eight (259).

CHANGES AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

The 2017 race will mark the first at the track since it was repaved in the offseason and re-profiled in Turns 1 and 2 from 24 degrees of banking to 20 degrees. Turns 3 and 4 remain banked at 24-degrees.

-RLLR-