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SEBRING, Fla. (December 11, 2012) – Graham Rahal, 23, completed his first day of testing with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) today at the 1.65-mile Sebring International Raceway. It was also his first time to drive an RLL-prepared race car on a road course after competing in one event for the team – the 2010 Indianapolis 500. TBC Retail Group is primary sponsor of the No. 15 Dallara-Honda-Firestone entry while Valvoline is a major associate sponsor.
Rahal completed 49 trouble-free laps of testing with a best lap time of 54.730 in low-grip, changing track conditions. Light showers in the morning led to a day of testing in damp-to-dry-to-wet conditions and an afternoon shower at approximately 4:30 p.m. ET brought an end to the day.
“We didn’t run a huge amount of laps but I think it was a pretty darn productive day,” said Rahal. “The car feels great. For the first day I am pretty impressed and certainly encouraged by what we have. At 9 a.m. we did an install check in the rain, came in and then basically sat until noon because of the weather. Then right at noon we got out and got a lot of laps in, in a short period of time from noon to three. Then we stopped to make a longer change and right as we were getting ready to go back out it started pouring so unfortunately we didn’t get that run in. The guys did a great job to get a lot of work done in a short period of time; we were really efficient. The forecast isn’t great for tomorrow. If it’s sunny we will run a lot and if its not, we are pretty limited on rain tires and we don’t want to bang up the car so we’ll have to see how much we run. Even if we only get in as much as we did today, it’s good for us.”
“We completed 49 laps today in changeable weather conditions so we certainly didn’t manage to get everything done on our program because of that but we did get some very useful work done mid-afternoon,” added race engineer Gerry Hughes. “We took an early break for lunch and got on track at 12 and made some changes throughout the afternoon so what we did get done will give us initial insight into some of the development work we have done over the course of the winter. Graham is a very, very nice guy to work with, very calm and methodical and we have had a productive day given the weather conditions.”
Many teams will join RLL on track at Sebring on Wednesday and Thursday. The 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season will begin with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 24. The 2013 season will mark the seventh in a top-tier open wheel racing series for the 23-year-old, who became the youngest winner in major auto racing history when he drove to victory in his first IndyCar Series race at the 2008 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg at the age of 19. The following season he became the youngest pole winner at the same event – both while driving for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, a team co-owned by Michael Lanigan at the time. Graham came close to winning again in 2012 as he led the closing laps at Texas Motor Speedway before a slight brush of the wall with two laps to go forced him to settle for second place.