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Apr 09, 2014 - 06:58 AM
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2014 Long Beach: Rahal Letterman Lanigan IndyCar Race Preview
Posted by: newsla on Apr 09, 2014 - 06:57 AM
IndyCar Weekend Team Reports
2014 Long Beach: Rahal Letterman Lanigan IndyCar Race Preview

QUALIFYING BROADCAST: NBC Sports Network at 6 p.m. ET Saturday, April 12; live on the IMS Radio
Network and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring)
RACE BROADCAST: Live on NBC Sports Network, Sunday, April 21 at 4 p.m. ET
RADIO BROADCAST: The race will air on IMS Radio Network, XM 211 & Sirius 211
TRACK LAYOUT: 1.968-mile, 11-turn street course
RACE LENGTH: 80 laps / 157.4 miles
2013 WINNER: Takuma Sato
2013 POLESITTER: Dario Franchitti (1:07.2379 / 105.369 mph)


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FINISH AT LONG BEACH: 3 poles (Herta 1998, Vasser 2002, Jourdain, Jr. 2003) / 2nd - four times (Rahal 1992-1993,
Vasser 2002, G. Rahal 2013)
FINISH AT LONG BEACH: 5th in 2007 / 2nd in 2013; will be his eighth Indy car race here and ninth overall
CAR START/FINISH: Pole at St. Pete 2009 & Kansas 2009 / 1st in St. Pete in 2008

FINISH AT LONG BEACH: 4th in 2011 / 2nd in 2007; will be his 13th race here
CAR START/FINISH: Pole at Surfers Paradise (street) in 2005 / 1st at Montreal (road) in 2005


The 2014 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (TGPLB) marks the 15th time for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) to compete in the event. RLL’s second place finish in last year’s IndyCar race by Graham Rahal followed a 1-2 finish by the team’s sports car program on Saturday and will be hard to top this year but RLL is looking forward to the opportunity to try.

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 ALMS with BMW Team RLL and finished on the podium each year since then including a win in 2011 with Joey Hand and Dirk Müller and a 1-2 finish last year with Bill Auberlen and Maxime Martin (1st) and Dirk Mueller and Joey Hand (2nd).

In their 14 previous Indy car races in Long Beach, the team entered 25 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), Jourdain (2002-2003), Takuma Sato (2012) and Graham Rahal, James Jakes and Mike Conway in 2013. 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).

In 2013, Rahal qualified 11th and finished second. James Jakes qualified 13th but was hit at the start and ultimately finished 12th despite a slow first pit stop due to a left front issue and Mike Conway qualified fifth but retired after mechanical failure.

The team has prepared four cars for the Long Beach weekend – two of which are entered in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Verizon IndyCar Series race on Sunday including the No. 15 National Guard entry for Graham Rahal and the No. 16 Rahal Letterman Lanigan entry for Oriol Servia. The team also prepared two entries under the name BMW Team RLL that will compete in the GTLM class of the United SportsCar Series race on Saturday.

Sunday’s race will be Graham’s eighth Champ or Indy car race here, ninth overall, and second for his father’s team. In 2013, he finished second after starting 11th. In 2012, he qualified 15th for Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR), started eighth 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 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (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 with NHLR. He 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 with NHLR. In the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Series race here he started seventh and finished fifth.

“It was a great weekend for us,” said Rahal of the 2013 event. “We started eleventh, had a bunch of good restarts and got ourselves up into a position to challenge for the win. It went extremely smoothly with all three cars (Rahal, Jakes, Conway) and our competitiveness was the highest it was at any track. Unfortunately we had to save fuel towards the end and that hurt us a little bit. Long Beach has always been a challenging place for me for various reasons but last year was definitely a good result. This gives me a lot of confidence coming back this year with a team that I feel is now stronger than before and a car that should be even better.”

The 2014 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will mark the 13th race here for Oriol and his first with RLL at this track. His best finish is second in 2007 with Forsythe and best start is fourth in 2011 with Newman/Haas Racing. In 12 events, he has earned one podium (2nd in 2007), one top-five and five, top-10 finishes. He retired with mechanical failure four times and once after contact. Of his many races here, Servia is hard-pressed to find one that wasn’t memorable.

“There are very few of my many Long Beach appearances that don't hold a special place in my memory,” said Servia who is one of 14 drivers entered in Sunday’s race that have led laps here. “Somehow this place has always produced a memorable race for me. The 2007 race, where I wasn't supposed to compete and got a call just before qualifying when (Paul) Tracy got hurt is one of the more memorable. I qualified 14th and almost won the race by finishing second. I have a lot of memories of the Long Beach race and a lot of friends coming to support me and have fun. Like all street races, the walls can come to quick at you if you get too greedy!”

“Well it would be something I would have over my dad – the only thing in my entire life that I will probably have over him so that would be fun! Being that we have always been the bridesmaid here it would mean a lot to all of us. I know finishing second was a great achievement, but it’s Long Beach, you want to win this one as its one of the greatest races in our sports history. The tradition, the history, the heritage of Long Beach would mean that it would be great to be included as a winner there. I can tell you that even looking at the second place trophy sitting in the guy’s room in my house is pretty special. That trophy has been around a long time. I’ve seen it as a kid with my dad having received it various times so for me to actually have one on my shelf too if pretty meaningful. There would be a lot of excitement involved to get a first place one.”

“Well obviously I couldn’t do it as a driver but I definitely want to win Long Beach as an owner,” added Bobby Rahal, who finished second here in 1988 and from 1991-1993. “That is a feather in anybody’s cap. We were close last year with Graham, who did a great job in that race and finished second. I think that because its one of the more prestigious races on the calendar, having that race winning trophy on our mantle would be special for us.”

The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Round 2 of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season, will actually be Servia’s season-opener as he did not compete in St. Petersburg. It was previously announced that the team will prepare an entry for Servia in races at Long Beach, Barber, and the road and oval courses at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“It would be nice to have done St Pete as nothing can prepare you better than another race, especially after a long off season. But honestly there is also not a better stimulant than being on the sidelines when the green is called! We are hungry and thanks to the work done by the whole team and Graham, we will be ready. What can I say? One always wants to win and I have a great team around me.”

“Long Beach is difficult because there is little margin for error,” said Rahal. “There are some really high speed corners at the end of the back straight which take a lot of commitment, and its pretty bumpy so its difficult to get the car just right. I expect that with the gains we have made from Sebring and even St. Pete we should be very competitive. Certainly there is a lot to be gained still, we have a long way to go to be the best but I feel we can be right there and run up front. Of course this is the goal this weekend and I’m looking forward to getting out there.”

“I was in St Pete with the team assisting with anything I could but mostly to follow every step of the way almost as if I was driving myself. I also took some notes on how to do a spectacular start! Did you see Graham’s start?

“The limited time on track, the track surface constantly changing and an incredibly competitive field makes it almost a necessity to have multiple cars working together on car setup and have multiple drivers comparing data and notes to get the best out of each other. Graham and I have worked really well together in the past. I can't wait to get started again.”

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