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May 29, 2013 - 05:00 PM
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2013 Detroit: Rahal Letterman Lanigan IndyCar Race Preview
Posted by: newsla on May 29, 2013 - 04:58 PM
IndyCar Weekend Team Reports
2013 Detroit: Rahal Letterman Lanigan IndyCar Race Preview


NEWS & NOTES:

1 WIN, 1 FRONT ROW START, 2 PODIUMS IN 13 BELLE ISLE RACES FOR RLL RACING
The Chevrolet Indy Duel in Detroit will mark the IZOD IndyCar Series’ fourth visit to Detroit, and it’s second 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.

 

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The 2013 event will mark the 14th year for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) to compete at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park. The team’s highest start of second place and highest finish of first in the event came in the inaugural running on Belle Isle in 1992 by Bobby Rahal. In total, the team has earned two podiums (Max Papis 2000 – 2nd), three top-five finishes and nine top-10’s here (chart available). Prior to 2013, the team prepared a total of 21 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) and Takuma Sato (2012). Last year Sato qualified 12th and was sixth when he hit a curb that wrenched the steering wheel from his hands and retired in 20th place after he hit the wall. The No. 15 Midas / Big O Tires entry for Graham Rahal and the No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts entry for James Jakes will bring that total to 23 in 2013.

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.

DOUBLE THE FUN
The Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit will mark the first of three doubleheaders on the 2013 IZOD 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 IZOD IndyCar Series drivers and teams. In addition, SONAX will offer a $50,000 bonus to any driver who can win both races through the SONAX Perfect Finish Award.

“There are a lot of challenges for the teams and drivers physically, however I feel its nothing but positive for the fans,” said Rahal. “I really hope they all enjoy the show we will put on, and most of all feel they are getting their moneys worth. It will be a very demanding and physically tiring weekend, but I am up for the challenge.”

THIRD TIME THE CHARM FOR RAHAL?
The event will be Graham’s third here. He qualified seventh with Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing in 2012 but had a 10-grid penalty for an unapproved engine change and started 17. He was eighth when he made his final stop on Lap 45/60 but during the red flag to repair the track, a clutch problem surfaced and he was unable to continue and retired in 19th place. 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. Rahal hopes to earn his second podium finish of the season in Detroit after a second place finish in Round 3 at Long Beach.

“We had a great race, marched through the field, passed a ton of cars, but unfortunately the clutch failed under the red flag therefore we couldn’t get it restarted and fell to the back,” recalled Rahal. “It was very frustrating as we were extremely quick last year!”

AFTER MECHANICAL WOES IN 2012, JAKES LOOKS FORWARD TO DETROIT RETURN
The 2013 event will be his second here. He qualified 25th at Belle Isle last year with Dale Coyne Racing and had gained seven spots by Lap 14 before a problem surfaced and he retired in 23rd due to mechanical failure.

“Last years race was very short lived. I had a brake master cylinder problem and stopped early into the race. I did struggle a little bit with the track, with learning it and figuring out which was the best way to get around so I’m hoping to improve that this weekend.”

RAHAL AND JAKES ON THE CHALLENGES OF THE COURSE
“It’s always a tough circuit because of the mix of high and low speed corners, as well as the various different types of asphalt,” said Rahal. “Detroit has always typically been very bumpy, although by the sounds of it Roger has done a tremendous job to repave a lot of the circuit. Its one of the toughest, highest commitment street circuits we go to.”

“It’s a fun track to drive,” added Jakes. “It will be nice to be back on a street course after spending such a long time on an oval. We were competitive in Long Beach and obviously Brazil so hopefully we can get a good result in Detroit. We’ve shown good pace on a number of occasions and it has been frustrating not to capitalize on it but we are close. We will be pushing as hard as ever. I am looking forward to it.”

RAHAL ON HIS EXPECTATIONS FOR THE DETROIT DUELS
“We want to run up front, there is no reason we can’t, and I think this team is up for the challenge,” said Rahal. “We know we need to improve and now is a good time to score a lot of points. We are looking forward to the next four weeks in a row, and this is the start of it all!”

RAHAL AND JAKES ON THE IMPROVEMENTS TO THE COURSE
“I have heard nothing but good things, and I think this new circuit will really improve the passing zones and opportunities. For us with a 10 place grid penalty for the first race it will be somewhat of a challenge, but by the sounds of it we should be able to pass our way forward if need be.”

“We know there have been improvements and I can’t wait to check them out,” said Jakes. “It was very bumpy last year and obviously the setup was quite crucial. They have repaved areas and extended the straight so it will be nice to check it out.”

RAHAL ON HIS 10-GRID PENALTY
RLL made an unapproved engine change on the No. 15 entry for the Indy 500 and will be assessed a 10-grid penalty for Race 1 in Detroit. Rahal is hopeful that he can move to the front like he did in Long Beach where he finished second after starting 11th.

“It certainly makes the road ahead more difficult; however we have started from the back and marched forward before. I feel strongly that our team and our cars should excel in Detroit. I am looking forward to what’s ahead of us.”

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