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Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach — Advance Notes/Quotes

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Pre-Race Notes

Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach – Streets of Long Beach, Calif.

Round 2 of 18 in the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series

 

DATE:

Friday – Sunday, April 11 – 13, 2014

QUALIFYING BROADCAST:      

NBC Sports Network at 6 p.m. ET Saturday, April 12; live on the IMS Radio Network and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring)

RACE BROADCAST:

Live on NBC Sports Network, Sunday, April 13 at 4 p.m. ET

RADIO BROADCAST:

The race will air on IMS Radio Network, XM 211 & Sirius 211

TRACK LAYOUT:

1.968-mile, 11-turn street course

RACE LENGTH:

80 laps / 157.4 miles

2013 WINNER:                                 

Takuma Sato

2013 POLESITTER:                       

Dario Fran­chitti (1:07.2379 / 105.369 mph)

 

RLL’S BEST START/FINISH AT LONG BEACH:          

3 poles (Herta 1998, Vasser 2002, Jour­dain, Jr. 2003) / 2nd - four times (Rahal 1992 – 1993, Vasser 2002, G. Rahal 2013)

G. RAHAL’S BEST START/FINISH AT LONG BEACH:

5th in 2007 / 2nd in 2013; will be his eighth Indy car race here and ninth overall

RAHAL’S BEST INDY CAR START/FINISH:

Pole at St. Pete 2009 & Kansas 2009 / 1st in St. Pete in 2008

 

SERVIA’S BEST START/FINISH AT LONG BEACH:

4th in 2011 / 2nd in 2007; will be his 13th race here

SERVIA’S BEST INDY CAR START/FINISH:

Pole at Surfers Paradise (street) in 2005 / 1st at Montreal (road) in 2005

 

NEWS & NOTES:

15TH INDY CAR RACE FOR RLL IN LONG BEACH; FOUR CARS ENTERED FOR USCC/INDY CAR RACES

The 2014 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (TGPLB) marks the 15th time for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) to compete in the event.  RLL’s second place finish in last year’s IndyCar race by Graham Rahal followed a 1 – 2 finish by the team’s sports car program on Saturday and will be hard to top this year but RLL is looking forward to the oppor­tu­nity to try.

Although the team didn’t compete in Indy car races here from 2004 – 2011 while they fielded a full­time entry in the Indy Racing League (2004 – 2008), they did compete in the 2003 and 2004 Atlantic races with Danica Patrick and in the 2007 Amer­ican Le Mans Series (ALMS) race. In 2009, the team returned to the streets of Long Beach in the ALMS with BMW Team RLL and finished on the podium each year since then including a win in 2011 with Joey Hand and Dirk Müller and a 1 – 2 finish last year with Bill Auberlen and Maxime Martin (1st) and Dirk Mueller and Joey Hand (2nd).

In their 14 previous Indy car races in Long Beach, the team entered 25 cars for drivers such as Bobby Rahal (1992 – 1998),

Mike Groff (1994), Raul Boesel (1995), Bryan Herta (1996 – 1999), Max Papis (1999 – 2001), Kenny Brack (2000 – 2001), Jimmy Vasser (2002), Jour­dain (2002 – 2003), Takuma Sato (2012) and Graham Rahal, James Jakes and Mike Conway in 2013.  In total, the team won three poles (Herta 1998, Vasser 2002, Jour­dain, Jr. 2003); made five front row starts including an all-Team Rahal front row in 1998 (2nd – Rahal 1998, Brack 2001); earned their best finish of second place four times (Rahal 1992 – 1993, Vasser 2002, G. Rahal 2013) and earned six podiums (2nd — Rahal 1992 – 1993, Vasser 2002 & G. Rahal 2013; 3rd — Herta 1998 – 1999).

In 2013, Rahal qual­i­fied 11th and finished second. James Jakes qual­i­fied 13th but was hit at the start and ulti­mately finished 12th despite a slow first pit stop due to a left front issue and Mike Conway qual­i­fied fifth but retired after mechan­ical failure.

The team has prepared four cars for the Long Beach weekend – two of which are entered in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Verizon IndyCar Series race on Sunday including the No. 15 National Guard entry for Graham Rahal and the No. 16 Rahal Letterman Lanigan entry for Oriol Servia. The team also prepared two entries under the name BMW Team RLL that will compete in the GTLM class of the United SportsCar Series race on Saturday.

GRAHAM ON HIS SECOND PLACE FINISH IN 2013

Sunday’s race will be Graham’s eighth Champ or Indy car race here, ninth overall, and second for his father’s team.  In 2013, he finished second after starting 11th.  In 2012, he qual­i­fied 15th for Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR), started eighth due to penal­ties to Chevy-powered teams, ran as high as fourth but finished 24th due to contact with Marco Andretti. In 2011, he qual­i­fied 16th for SCCGR and finished 13th.  In 2010, he started and finished 22nd for Sarah Fisher Racing after contact.  In 2009, he started seventh and finished 12th for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR). In 2008 he started ninth and had a podium in sight when he was along­side third place but contact during this pass led to a 13th place finish with NHLR.  He started fifth in 2007 but the pit strategy of others and slow fuel flow related to teething prob­lems for the all-new Panoz Champ Car on two stops limited his finish to eighth place with NHLR.  In the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Series race here he started seventh and finished fifth.

It was a great weekend for us,” said Rahal of the 2013 event.  “We started eleventh, had a bunch of good restarts and got ourselves up into a posi­tion to chal­lenge for the win. It went extremely smoothly with all three cars (Rahal, Jakes, Conway) and our compet­i­tive­ness was the highest it was at any track. Unfor­tu­nately we had to save fuel towards the end and that hurt us a little bit. Long Beach has always been a chal­lenging place for me for various reasons but last year was defi­nitely a good result. This gives me a lot of confi­dence coming back this year with a team that I feel is now stronger than before and a car that should be even better.”

 

ORIOL AT LONG BEACH

The 2014 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will mark the 13th race here for Oriol and his first with RLL at this track. His best finish is second in 2007 with Forsythe and best start is fourth in 2011 with Newman/Haas Racing.  In 12 events, he has earned one podium (2nd in 2007), one top-five and five, top-10 finishes. He retired with mechan­ical failure four times and once after contact.  Of his many races here, Servia is hard-pressed to find one that wasn’t memorable.

There are very few of my many Long Beach appear­ances that don’t hold a special place in my memory,” said Servia who is one of 14 drivers entered in Sunday’s race that have led laps here. “Somehow this place has always produced a memo­rable race for me. The 2007 race, where I wasn’t supposed to compete and got a call just before qual­i­fying when (Paul) Tracy got hurt is one of the more memo­rable. I qual­i­fied 14th and almost won the race by finishing second.  I have a lot of memo­ries of the Long Beach race and a lot of friends coming to support me and have fun. Like all street races, the walls can come to quick at you if you get too greedy!”

GRAHAM ON WHAT WINNING IN LONG BEACH WOULD MEAN

Well it would be some­thing I would have over my dad – the only thing in my entire life that I will prob­ably have over him so that would be fun!  Being that we have always been the brides­maid here it would mean a lot to all of us. I know finishing second was a great achieve­ment, but it’s Long Beach, you want to win this one as its one of the greatest races in our sports history.  The tradi­tion, the history, the heritage of Long Beach would mean that it would be great to be included as a winner there. I can tell you that even looking at the second place trophy sitting in the guy’s room in my house is pretty special. That trophy has been around a long time. I’ve seen it as a kid with my dad having received it various times so for me to actu­ally have one on my shelf too if pretty mean­ingful. There would be a lot of excite­ment involved to get a first place one.”

Well obvi­ously I couldn’t do it as a driver but I defi­nitely want to win Long   Beach as an owner,” added Bobby Rahal, who finished second here in 1988 and from 1991 – 1993. “That is a feather in anybody’s cap. We were close last year with Graham, who did a great job in that race and finished second. I think that because its one of the more pres­ti­gious races on the calendar, having that race winning trophy on our mantle would be special for us.”

ORIOL ON THE CHALLENGES OF LONG BEACH BEING HISSEASON-OPENER
The Toyota Grand Prix of  Long Beach, Round 2 of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season, will actu­ally be Servia’s season-opener as he did not compete in St. Peters­burg. It was previ­ously announced that the team will prepare an entry for Servia in races at Long   Beach, Barber, and the road and oval courses at Indi­anapolis Motor Speedway.

It would be nice to have done St Pete as nothing can prepare you better than another race, espe­cially after a long off season. But honestly there is also not a better stim­u­lant than being on the side­lines when the green is called! We are hungry and thanks to the work done by the whole team and Graham, we will be ready. What can I say?  One always wants to win and I have a great team around me.”

GRAHAM ON THE CHALLENGES OF THE LONG BEACH COURSE AND HIS EXPECTATIONS

Long Beach is diffi­cult because there is little margin for error,” said Rahal.  “There are some really high speed corners at the end of the back straight which take a lot of commit­ment, and its pretty bumpy so its diffi­cult to get the car just right.  I expect that with the gains we have made from Sebring and even St. Pete we should be very compet­i­tive. Certainly there is a lot to be gained still, we have a long way to go to be the best but I feel we can be right there and run up front. Of course this is the goal this weekend and I’m looking forward to getting out there.”

GRAHAM AND ORIOL ON STANDING STARTS AND THE NEW STARTING LIGHT SYSTEM

To be honest, I am not the biggest fan,” said Rahal. “I don’t think it adds much to the show but I do support Mark, Derrick, and those that have made the deci­sion.  Long   Beach is a race and a party that doesn’t need any addi­tions so it will be inter­esting to see how it works. The lighting system for this year is miles above where it was last year. That’s a great improve­ment by the IndyCar team.”

I don’t feel any partic­ular way about how to start the race,” added Servia.  “I care more about the finish!”

ORIOL ON GOING FROM AN OBSERVER TOPARTICIPANT
“I was in St Pete with the team assisting with anything I could but mostly to follow every step of the way almost as if I was driving myself. I also took some notes on how to do a spec­tac­ular start! Did you see Graham’s start?

SERVIA ON THE BENEFITS OF BEINGTWO-CAR TEAM
“The limited time on track, the track surface constantly changing and an incred­ibly compet­i­tive field makes it almost a neces­sity to have multiple cars working together on car setup and have multiple drivers comparing data and notes to get the best out of each other. Graham and I have worked really well together in the past. I can’t wait to get started again.”

RLL