Steak ‘n Shake Driver Rahal Qualified 10th for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Verizon IndyCar Series

NOTES/QUOTES – Saturday, March 11, 2017

STEAK ‘N SHAKE DRIVER RAHAL QUALIFIED 10TH FOR THE FIRESTONE GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG

1)         Will Power                 1:01.0640 / 106.118 mph       (Group 2, Round 3)

10)       Graham Rahal           1:01.6181 / 105.164 mph       (Group 2, Round 2)    

GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “Starting tenth is obviously not where we want to be but all things considered, and where we’ve been this weekend, we knew it was going to take everything we had to advance out of the first group this weekend.  When you have guys like Helio (Castroneves) and Simon (Pagenaud) and all these boys in there, you know you have to be at your absolute best to advance.  We made it through, but that Top-12 was going to be tough for us to advance out of.  I felt like I got all of it out of the car honestly.  We just need to find some consistency and find some grip.  I’ve seen the sector times and I know where we’re losing it compared to everyone else but I don’t see how, within myself, we’re just going to find a magical three-tenths (of a second).  We’ve got to get to work. Tomorrow is a whole new day and we seem to excel as a team on race day.  Who knows what can happen but we’ll try to get this Steak ‘n Shake car in Victory Lane.”

  • FAST FACTS: Will make his 10th Indy car 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. In 2016, he qualified seventh but started sixth after pole sitter Will Power was replaced by Oriol Servia due to a mild concussion and Servia started from the back of the field.  After a mid-race return to green conditions, he was running eighth, but sixth on the same fuel strategy, when Carlos Munoz dove into Turn 4 and hit him from behind which set off a pileup of more than eight cars that blocked the turn.  Once he was restarted, he had to pit for a new front and rear wing and ran 21st. Munoz was penalized for “avoidable contact.” Rahal moved up to a 16th place finish. In 2015, he started 15th and gained three spots on the first lap and ran as high as fifth place midway through the race but was penalized for “avoidable contact” after he made contact while trying to pass the damaged car of Charlie Kimball. He dropped to the back of the field and ultimately finished 11th…  In 2014, the start of qualifying was delayed over three hours after an afternoon storm. Rahal was in Group 1 that ran on a wet track on rain tires. Conditions improved as each of the three rounds took place and teams switched to “slick” tires. Rahal lost control of the 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.  On the opening lap, Rahal charged from his 21st place starting spot to 12th and was in 14th when he made his first pit stop. Different pit strategies played out in a race that saw only 10 caution laps of 110 total. In the closing laps of the race, Rahal was 13th but lost a position to Bourdais with two laps to go and finished 14th… He 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 in 2008 he qualified ninth, led 19 laps and won in his series debut at the age of 19 years, 93 days old… Has four IndyCar Series wins (2008 – St. Pete street course; 2015 – Fontana Super Speedway, Mid-Ohio road course; 2016 – Texas Super Speedway) and two poles (2009 – St. Pete street course, Kansas oval) and his highest series season-ending standing is fourth place in 2015.

NEXT UP:  Morning warm-up will take place tomorrow from 9:00-9:30 a.m. ET and the 110 lap Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be televised live beginning at 12 p.m. ET. Timing and Scoring information and live streaming video is available for all sessions from www.indycar.com.

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