Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Advance: RLL Returns to Detroit After a Second Place Start and Finish in 2013

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Pre-Race Notes

Chevrolet Dual in Detroit — Raceway at Belle Isle Park

Round 6 and 7 of 18 in the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series

 

DATE:

May 30 – June 1, 2014

QUALIFYING BROADCAST:      

None; LIVE on www.indycar.com (timing & scoring with audio commentary)

RACE BROADCAST:

Live on Saturday, May 31 and Sunday, June 1 – both at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC

RADIO BROADCAST:

The race will air on IMS Radio Network, XM channel 94 & Sirius channel 212

TRACK LAYOUT:

2.36-mile, 13-turn tempo­rary street course

RACE LENGTH:

70 laps / 164.22 miles (each race)

2013 WINNER(S):                            

Mike Conway (Dual 1) and Simon Page­naud (Dual 2)

2013 POLESITTER(S):                  

Dario Fran­chitti (1:19.3311; Dual 1) and Mike Conway (1:18.0977; Dual 2)

 

RAHAL’S BEST ROAD/STREET START/FINISH:             

Pole at St. Pete (street) 2009 / 1st at St. Pete in 2008

RAHAL’S BEST DETROIT START/FINISH:

6th in 2008 with NHLR / 9th – two times in 2013 with RLL; will be his 5th & 6th start here

 

RLL’S BEST START/FINISH AT DETROIT:                   

2nd / 1st – both in 1992 by Bobby Rahal in the inau­gural Belle Isle event; Jakes also started 2nd in Dual 2 in 2013

 

NEWS & NOTES: 

FRONT ROW START AND PODIUM FINISH OF SECOND ON BELLE ISLE LAST YEAR

The Chevrolet Indy Duel in Detroit will mark the Verizon IndyCar Series’ fifth visit to Detroit, and it’s third since 2008. The Motor City hosted Indy car racing from 1989 – 91 in Down­town Detroit. The race moved to Belle Isle Park from 1992 – 2001 and 2007 – 2008 and returned in 2012. The 2014 event will mark the 15th year for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) to compete at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park and the team’s 16th and 17th races.

The team’s highest start of second place came in the inau­gural running on Belle Isle in 1992 by Bobby Rahal and last year by James Jakes in Dual 2. Bobby Rahal brought the team its highest finish with a win in 1992 and Jakes added a third podium for the team last year with his second place finish. In total, the team has earned three podiums (James Jakes 2013 & Max Papis 2000 – 2nd), four top-five finishes and 12 top-10’s here (chart avail­able). Prior to 2014, the team prepared a total of 23 entries for drivers such as Bobby Rahal (1992 – 1998), Mike Groff (1993 – 94), Raul Boesel (1995), Bryan Herta (1996 – 99), Max Papis (1999 – 2001), Kenny Brack (2000 – 01), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2007 – 08) Takuma Sato (2012), Graham Rahal (2013) and James Jakes (2013). The No. 15 National Guard entry for Graham Rahal will bring that total to 24 in 2014.

Last year in Detroit Jakes earned his best series start on Friday of fourth place, started third due to an engine penalty for Fran­chitti but finished 10th in Saturday’s race after strug­gling with the handling of his race car on red alter­nate tires and drove into runoff area which dropped him to 21st at one point. He bettered his qual­i­fying record with a second place start for Sunday’s race, led four laps but six caution periods contributed to multiple pit strate­gies. He gained ground by leading Laps 55 – 58 of 70 before his final stop, came out in second place and held off a hard charging Mike Conway, who won Dual 1, to earn a career-best finish in Indy car. Rahalqual­i­fied 14th for Saturday’s race (engine penalty, started 23rd) and 15th for Sunday’s race and finished ninth in both.

DOUBLE THE FUN – DOUBLE THE PHYSICAL CHALLENGE FOR THE DRIVERS

The Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit will mark the first of three double­headers on the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. The series will race a pair of 70-lap races Saturday and Sunday on the 2.36-mile tempo­rary street circuit, posing a unique chal­lenge for drivers and teams. Double­headers will also take place in the Toronto and Houston street events. While the fore­cast will be perfect for spec­ta­tors, National Guard driver Rahal concedes that it will be phys­i­cally demanding for the drivers.

                “Its going to be tough; its going to be a brutal weekend for us phys­i­cally because every day looks like its going to be nice and sunny, and hot. Based on that, this is going to be one of the most demanding week­ends that we will ever compete in. But it’s the same for every­body. I feel like my phys­ical prepa­ra­tion is pretty good, and phys­i­cally I can compete with every­body out here. I can tell you that with 85-degree days and a full race distance, we’re all going to sleep well on Saturday and Sunday night.”

GRAHAM RAHAL IN DETROIT

The event will be Graham’s fifth and sixth race here. He qual­i­fied 14th for Dual 1 in Detroit in 2013 but started 23rd due to an unap­proved engine change at the previous race in Indi­anapolis. He gained three spots on the opening lap and another two on the first restart on Lap 4. The team elected for an alter­nate strategy and the timing of the caution flags worked in the team’s favor and Rahal was able to climb 14 spots to finish ninth. He qual­i­fied 15th for Dual 2 in Detroit and finished ninth… In 2012, he qual­i­fied seventh with Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing but had a 10-grid penalty for an unap­proved engine change and started 17th. He was eighth when he made his final stop on Lap 45/60 but during the red flag stop to repair the track, a clutch problem surfaced and he was unable to continue and retired in 19thplace… In 2008 he drove for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing and progressed to the Fire­stone Fast Six in qual­i­fying for the first time in his series career and qual­i­fied sixth. The team chose the same pit strategy as then race leader Dixon which almost worked but a late race fourth caution botched the plan and he had to stop for a splash of fuel with three laps to go and dropped to 13th.

GRAHAM ON THE TRANSFERRING THE COMPETITIVE CAR SETUP FROM LONG BEACH TO DETROIT

Rahal was in sixth place in the late stages of the previous street course race – the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach — and looked to move up further once the pit cycle was complete but he was hit from behind by rookie Mikhail Aleshin and dropped to 13th, where he finished. Both he and team­mate Oriol Servia felt the team had made vast improve­ments with the handling of the race car for race day. Rahal is hoping that carries over to the Raceway on Belle Isle street course.

I think quite a bit of our Long Beach setup should transfer to Detroit. At the end of the day the street courses are all pretty similar. Once you get the car in a close range, you shouldn’t have to change it all that much. I think we are starting to get closer to that range. We have more devel­op­ment and work to be done but I feel like what found in Long Beach should be a good starting point in Detroit. Now we are back to a single car team which means more pres­sure on me to do all of the heavy lifting on my own but I think every­body will rise to the challenge.

GRAHAM ON THE SEASON TO DATE AND KICKSTARTING THE SEASON TO COME

We have had a lot of bad luck this year and everyone is fired up. We’re obvi­ously not happy about our point standing but if you look at the season from the stand­point of our poten­tial finishes, it’s encour­aging. At Long Beach we would have had a top-five had we not been punted and at the Indy road race we would have had a top-five at a minimum if we hadn’t been punted. To have the issues that we had in the Indy 500 too put us further behind. We need some luck. I think we’re going to find that we are rela­tively compet­i­tive at times but we defi­nitely need some help from Lady Luck. The guys are excited and fired up. We all want to go out and win like never before. I think everyone is going to see a team this weekend at Detroit that is eager to compete and run up front like we should.”

GRAHAM ON RETURNING TOSTREET RACE AFTER THE SMOOTH, WIDE OPEN SPACE AT IMS

After competing on the streets of Long Beach, the series has raced on the smooth surfaces of Barber Motor­sports Park and Indi­anapolis Motor Speedway’s newly-configured road course and the 2.5 mile oval. The Chevrolet Dual in Detroit marks the return to the chal­lenge of the tight confines and bumpy surfaces of city streets.

Detroit is always a pretty tough place. It’s going to be pretty rough and bumpy as street courses are. I don’t know what changes have been made from last year but I’m sure there will be some things and we’re going to have to adapt to the situ­a­tion. I feel like we had a great car in Long Beach in the race so I feel pretty posi­tive about devel­oping from there and see how compet­i­tive we will be going forward.”

GRAHAM ON THE SCHEDULE CHANGES FOR FRIDAY AT DETROIT

For the 2013 race, there was only one 75 minute prac­tice session on Friday, followed by qual­i­fying for Saturday’s race. This year the series has sched­uled two 45-minute prac­tice sessions with three hours in between to make setup changes. Rahal believes this will allow the teams more time to prepare and improve the show.

I think it’s a great change. We need to go out and learn about how to improve and make our cars better. I appre­ciate the series doing that because it’s defi­nitely some­thing we need. I think it will help to have qual­i­fying Saturday and Sunday morn­ings before the respec­tive races. It’s a good change.”

BOBBY RAHAL IN DETROIT

Bobby Rahal competed in down­town Detroit from 1989 – 1991 with two second place finishes to his credit. When the series moved to Belle Isle, he won the inau­gural event in 1992 and went on to compete there through 1998. In total, he competed in Detroit 10 times (three down­town, seven on Belle Isle) with one win (1992), three podiums (2nd — 1990, 1991), four top five finishes and five top-10’s. A chart is avail­able upon request.

- RLL -