Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach – Streets of Long Beach, California
Round 2 of 17 in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series
Friday – Sunday, April 7-9, 2017
Live on NBCSN, Friday, April 7 beginning at 5:00 p.m. ET (Practice 2).
Live on NBCSN, Saturday, April 8 beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET. Live on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network (AAPIRN) and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis)
Live on NBCSN, Sunday, April 9 beginning at 4:00 p.m. ET
The race will air on the AAPIRN, Sirius 212, XM 209, www.indycar.com and on the INDYCAR mobile app .
1.968-mile, 11-turn street course
85 laps / 167.28 miles
Helio Castroneves (1:07.1246 / 105.547 mph)
RLL’S BEST START/FINISH AT LONG BEACH:
3 poles (Herta 1998, Vasser 2002, Jourdain, Jr. 2003) / 2nd – four times (B. Rahal 1992-1993, Vasser 2002, G. Rahal 2013)
RAHAL’S BEST START/FINISH AT LONG BEACH:
5th in 2007 / 2nd in 2013; will be his 11th Indy car race here and 12th overall
RAHAL’S HIGHEST SERIES START/FINISH:
Pole at St. Pete (street) 2009 & Kansas (oval) 2009 / 1st in St. Pete in 2008, Fontana (Super Speedway) & Mid-Ohio (road) 2015, Texas 2016 (oval)
NEWS & NOTES:
18TH INDY CAR RACE IN LONG BEACH FOR RLL; THREE CARS ENTERED FOR WEEKEND
The 2017 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (TGPLB) marks the 18th time for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) to compete in the event. 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 GTLM class of the ALMS with BMW Team RLL and has finished on the podium each year but 2016 which makes Long Beach the most successful venue for the team on the current WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule. The team has won the race three times (2011, 2013 and 2015) and started from pole five, including the past two years.
In their 17 previous Indy car races in Long Beach, the team entered 29 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), Michel Jourdain (2002-2003), Takuma Sato (2012), Graham Rahal (2013-2016), James Jakes (2013), Mike Conway (2013) and Oriol Servia (2014). 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).
GRAHAM AND LONG BEACH REWIND
The 2017 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will be Graham’s 11th Champ/Indy car race here and 12th overall. In 2016, after setting the third fastest time overall on Friday, Rahal held the fastest spot in Saturday morning’s final practice at one point late in the session and was ranked sixth with a few minutes to go when he made contact with the wall in Turn 9 and sustained damage to his front and rear wings and left-side corners of his car. The team repaired it by qualifying but he was unable to progress from his group and ultimately qualified 17th. In the race, the team elected for an alternate strategy due to starting from 17th place. Rahal passed two cars on the start and another by Lap 3 to run 14th.. He made his first stop on Lap 20 of 80 and returned to the race in 19th place. As the field cycled through their stops he moved up to 10th place and later made his second stop on Lap 48 which came one lap earlier than expected which forced the team into even more of a fuel-savings mode. He had moved up to ninth place by Lap 59 and held it while the team hoped for a caution period. The race ran caution-free and Rahal dropped from ninth to 15th in the final 10 laps and coasted across the finish line. His car ultimately stooped on track in Turn 1… In 2015, he qualified eighth but struggled in the race and finished 11th. In 2014, he finished seventh after struggling in practice and qualifying 23rd. In 2013, he finished second after starting 11th. In 2012, he qualified 15th for SCCGR, started 8th 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 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. 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. In the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Series race here he started seventh and finished fifth. Rahal is hoping to pick up where he left off on Saturday morning with a fast car.
“Last year, before qualifying I screwed up and crashed in practice and that really put us behind the eight ball. Because then we went into qualifying and we tried to trim out and ran too little downforce and struggled in all of the twisty bits and other guys were able to make up a bunch of time there so we missed advancing and qualified towards the back. And then we were trapped on race day. When you start there, you have to play the risky game with strategy and we tried and it bit us right in the-you-know-what. It just didn’t work out, we didn’t have enough fuel to make it to the end. It was very frustrating because actually we were very fast, we had a quick car, so to not get the result that I think we all felt we deserved was really disappointing.”
GRAHAM ON HIS SECOND HOMETOWN RACE & ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY FOR A RAHAL TO WIN HERE
“Long Beach is such an iconic, historic race. It’s been going on for more than 40 years – forever. There is a lot of great history there and I have fond memories of finishing second there a few years ago (2013). It’s like my second hometown race now so there is a lot of support from friends and family that come out. It’s a special event for us and I hope we can get a win in the PennGrade Honda. A Rahal has never won there but we have finished second five times combined. It’s a tough track, a track that I feel I have raced at so many times but every time I go there I feel like I am learning something completely new. I’m excited to get there just to get over what happened at St. Pete really.”
GRAHAM ON THE IMPACT OF FIVE ADDITIONAL LAPS IN 2017
The 2017 race has been extended from 80 laps to 85this year. The 2016 race was largely dictated by fuel strategy as many tried to stretch their fuel to only stop twice. The additional five laps this year could make the race more exciting.
“I think that is going to make it a lot better for the fans. You are going to see guys pushing a lot harder because if its green (the whole race) like last year, there is no way anybody will make it on fuel (on two stops). You might see some different strategies because it’s probably going to be firmly a three-stopper so you will stick to that and have pretty big (pit) windows and see drivers try to pit at different times. It should make it a lot more exciting for everyone.”
GRAHAM ON THE BUSY MONTH BETWEEN ROUND 1 AND ROUND 2 IN LONG BEACH
The 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season opener in St. Petersburg, Fla. was held March 12 and didn’t end as well as the team had hoped. Rahal had passed Rossi and Kimball in Turn 1 on the opening lap but contact with Kimball in Turn 3 ultimately limited him to a 17th place finish. Since then, the team has been busy with tests at Barber Motorsports Park, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Sonoma Raceway. In addition, Rahal will have participated in series media days for Texas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway and two sponsor photo/video shoots in the month since then before arriving to Long Beach on Thursday.
“It’s been so busy since the last race that I can’t even list off all of the places I’ve been. This year has been a very heavy demand on time. Just since St. Pete, we’ve had tests at Barber, Indy, Sonoma and a couple of media days for the series which has kept me hopping. We’re just all excited to get there and hopefully be competitive in Long Beach. It’s time to get back to racing.”