Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix – Phoenix International Raceway, Avondale, Arizona
Round 2 of 16 in the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series
Friday – Saturday, April 1-2, 2016
Live on NBCSN at 1:00 p.m. ET on Friday, April 1
Live on NBCSN at 5:00 p.m. ET on Friday, April 1. Live on the INDYCAR Radio Network and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + commentating)
Live on NBCSN, Saturday, April 2 at 8:30 p.m. ET
The race will air on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius 212, XM 209 and
250 laps / 255.5 miles
RLLR TOP START/FINISH AT PHOENIX:
2nd by Bobby Rahal in 1992 / 1st by Bobby Rahal in 1992 (led all 200); will be 8th event for team and first since 2005 here
RAHAL’S BEST START/FINISH IN PHOENIX:
First race here
RAHAL’S HIGHEST SERIES START/FINISH:
Pole at St. Pete (street) 2009 & Kansas (oval) 2009 / 1st in St. Pete in 2008 (street), Fontana 2015 (oval), Mid-Ohio 2015 (road).
NEWS & NOTES:
RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
The 2016 Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) will mark the eighth Indy car race for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR), first since 2005 and first for Graham Rahal. In only the second race for the team, then named Rahal Hogan Racing, Bobby Rahal led all 200 laps en route to victory with a margin of 22.35-seconds over Eddie Cheever and third place Emerson Fittipaldi in 1992. Over the years, the team has prepared a total of 11 cars for races at PIR: Bobby Rahal (1992-1995), Mike Groff (1994), Raul Boesel (1995), Kenny Brack (2003), Buddy Rice (2004-2005), Vitor Meira (2005) and Danica Patrick (2005). A list of results is available upon request.
GRAHAM ON THE RETURN OF INDYCAR RACING TO PHOENIX & PODIUM APPEARANCE AT AGE THREE
Although it will be Graham’s first race at Phoenix, he has stood on the podium here. In 1992, at three years of age, he joined his father Bobby Rahal on the podium after his commanding win in the second race for Rahal Hogan Racing. (Photo available upon request.) After winning in Phoenix, Bobby went on to clinch the championship with four wins, three poles and 10 podium finishes in 16 races. Graham is hoping to bring the team another victory at PIR in the team’s 25th season. Perhaps his father will join him on the podium this time.
“Exciting is the word that comes to mind when I think about Indy cars returning to Phoenix. To go back there where Indy car racing has such a storied past is cool. It’s also cool as my dad won here before, and dominated in 1992 to score the team’s first win. I think we can make a great run of it and hopefully get Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing another victory in the dessert.”
GRAHAM ON THE CHALLENGES OF RACING AT PIR
Only four drivers in the 22-car field have raced at PIR before: Ed Carpenter, Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan. The race is the first of five ovals races on the schedule and Rahal knows it could be one of the most challenging of the year.
“The dusk or when the sun begins to go down behind the stands in Turn 1 will be very tricky, for sure. Getting the right visor darkness on for the race will be key. Physically this will be the most demanding race of the year, I believe, so it’s important to make sure I am hydrated and ready for a lot of G-forces and laps. It’s going to be a very difficult race in many ways. ”
GRAHAM ON THE IMPORTANCE OF THE PHOENIX RACE AFTER A DISAPPOINTING FINISH IN ST. PETE
At the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Rahal started sixth and hoped to pick up where he left off after a competitive 2015 season that saw his earn a series-high six podium finishes. He was in eighth place after a mid-race return to green conditions, 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 dropped to 21st. Munoz was later penalized for “avoidable contact ” and Rahal ultimately finished a disappointing 16th. He hopes to rebound at Phoenix and kick start his season.
“This race is huge. I honestly feel like this race could shape our entire season. If we have a good run, we will bounce right back in points. I think our competition will be bringing their ‘A’ game and it will be very important that we do as well.”
GRAHAM ON FLYING WITH THE THUNDERBIRDS
On Thursday, Rahal will experience something he has wanted to do as long as he has wanted to be a race car driver – fly in an F-16. After a three-plus hour briefing session, he will experience the thrill of being in an F-16 aircraft that will take off from Luke Air Force Base. For more information on the Thunderbirds log on to: www.afthunderbirds.com. Rahal can’t wait for the experience.
“This is a dream come true for me. I am a very patriotic person and appreciate our military more than they will ever know. I always said as a kid if I didn’t drive race cars I wanted to be a fighter pilot. So literally, for me, this opportunity is a dream come true!”
BOBBY RAHAL AT PIR
Team co-owner Bobby Rahal competed at PIR 16 times between 1982-1995 including two races in 1982, 1984 and 1986 but missed the race in 1983 due to a pre-race warm-up accident that injured a significant number of crew members and forced the team to withdraw from the race. Driver Bob Ward lost control of his race car in the pits and crashed into the back of Bobby’s car that was being worked on in his pit box. In addition to injuring several crew members who would not be able to perform pit stops due to broken bones, the impact broke the bell housing on Rahal’s race car. In total, he won two races (1984 – Race 2, 1992), one pole (1986 – Race 2) and earned six podium finishes (2nd: 1987, 1990, 1991; 3rd: 1986). He finished in the top-five eight times, made four front-row starts and nine starts in the top-five.