Rahal says RLL making “great gains” in 2020

Graham Rahal says that the Rahal Letterman Lanigan team is fulfilling its promise, following a third place at Iowa Speedway, his second podium finish in five races.

Rahal says RLL making “great gains” in 2020

RLL appeared to be struggling in practice, Rahal in particular looking abysmally slow on Friday afternoon, almost 2mph off the next slowest car. Then in qualifying, he was only 21st of the 22 cars on the first lap (which decided the grid for Race 1), and then he and teammate Takuma Sato were only 19th and 20th on the second lap (qualifying for Race 2).

In Race 1, Sato and Rahal would finish 10th and 12th, one and two laps down on the winner respectively, although Sato led 49 laps through strategy. However, lessons learned from the day before were applied on Saturday, and both cars finished second practice in the Top 10. Sato then had to make an extra stop to counteract vicious oversteer, but Rahal rose from 19th on the grid to finish third, beating other lowly starters Simon Pagenaud of Team Penske-Chevrolet and Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda. He also finished less than one second behind runner-up Will Power.

“I think we actually had the best car on track tonight,” he told NBCSN immediately afterward. “We passed a ton of cars. It was just hard at the end when Will was driving on the same line as me. It was difficult up high to get the grip to go by…

“It was a great run right there and just a good rebound for our team after starting in the back. I’m super excited with P3, and we’re moving up in the championship [sixth]. The entire team worked awfully hard.”

The 31-year-old, now in his eighth season with the team co-owned by his legendary father Bobby Rahal, David Letterman and Mike Lanigan, has suffered misfortunes since he last went to victory lane, conquering the double-header at Belle Isle, Detroit in 2017. Teammate Sato has scored three wins in the intervening period, but two of them were strategic/lucky rather than showing outright pace. The other, at Barber Motorsports Park last year, was a dominant performance from pole position, and there Rahal joined his teammate on the front row but suffered mechanical failure.

This season Rahal has been strong in four of the six races held so far and has had a noticeable edge over Sato.

“I feel like we've made some great gains,” said Rahal. “I think a lot of people over the last couple years knocked our team quite a lot. Our guys kept their heads down.

“We're a contender. This [event] would be the first one you'd say, ‘Hey, they're not in the ballpark’, but then I think we rebounded pretty well.”

Regarding the next two races – his home track at Mid-Ohio on Aug. 9 and the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Aug. 23 – Rahal said he’s very positive.

“I think we ought to be very, very good at Mid-Ohio based on what I saw at Indy GP and based on what I saw at Road America,” he commented. “I feel good about it. I'm excited to go home.

“I'm super confident going to Indy. I feel that we ought to be very, very good there. My engineer, Allen [McDonald], is somewhat of an Indy specialist. He's kind of known for that.

“So I feel very good about what we should get going there. I think Indy should be a place that we are amongst the strongest. I'm excited for that.”

shares
comments
Newgarden feels redemption after anger of night before

Previous article

Newgarden feels redemption after anger of night before

Next article

Indy 500 to run at 25 percent crowd capacity

Indy 500 to run at 25 percent crowd capacity
Load comments
The lasting legacy of a fallen Indy car rookie Prime

The lasting legacy of a fallen Indy car rookie

Jeff Krosnoff was plucked out of obscurity to become a respected and highly popular professional in Japan, and then got his big break in CART Indy car for 1996. But a tragic accident at Toronto 25 years ago cut short a promising career and curtailed his regular teammate Mauro Martini's passion for racing.

IndyCar
Jul 14, 2021
The winners and losers in IndyCar 2021 – Mid-season review Prime

The winners and losers in IndyCar 2021 – Mid-season review

At the halfway point in the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series season, we've had seven winners in eight races, spread between five teams – none of them Team Penske. In this unusual season, even by IndyCar standards, who’s excelling and who’s dragging their heels? David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Jun 18, 2021
The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness Prime

The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness

Long-awaited wins for ex-Formula 1 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen in IndyCar and IMSA last weekend gave F1 a reminder of what it is missing. But with the new rules aimed at levelling the playing field, there’s renewed optimism that more drivers can have a rewarding result when their day of days comes

Formula 1
Jun 17, 2021
Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history Prime

Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history

Helio Castroneves’ overwhelming vivaciousness outside the cockpit belies a hardcore racer who knows how to plot his moves – and then recall it all for us. A day after his fourth Indy 500 win, Helio explained his tactics to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Jun 2, 2021
How 'chess master' Castroneves cemented his Indy legend status Prime

How 'chess master' Castroneves cemented his Indy legend status

Helio Castroneves joined AJ Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears with the most Indianapolis 500 wins after sweeping around the outside of Alex Palou on the penultimate lap in a thrilling climax. In one race, he validated Michael Shank's and Jim Meyer's faith in him, and Helio himself discovered there's life after Penske after all.

IndyCar
Jun 1, 2021
Indy 500 preview: Will experience or youth be victorious? Prime

Indy 500 preview: Will experience or youth be victorious?

A quarter of the drivers racing in the 105th edition of the Indianapolis 500 are former winners - but are they the favourites? The veteran drivers largely impressed in qualifying - but there's also a plethora of young guns looking to secure victory at IndyCar's flagship race...

IndyCar
May 25, 2021
What will it take to get American drivers in Formula 1? Prime

What will it take to get American drivers in Formula 1?

The FIA says it wants American drivers in Formula 1, but would it take an IndyCar driver to transfer or does an American need to join the European junior ladder system to get there? By David Malsher-Lopez.

Formula 1
May 19, 2021
Why IndyCar is satisfying Grosjean’s appetite for his second life Prime

Why IndyCar is satisfying Grosjean’s appetite for his second life

After spending the majority of his 179-race Formula 1 career in middling to tail-end machinery, Romain Grosjean finds himself once again with an underdog team in IndyCar. While not without its challenges, he's relishing the more level playing field that means his Dale Coyne Racing crew can expect to claim a few scalps...

IndyCar
May 14, 2021