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Jul 09, 2014 - 06:37 AM
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2014 Iowa: Rahal Letterman Lanigan IndyCar Race Preview
Posted by: newsla on Jul 09, 2014 - 06:35 AM
IndyCar Weekend Team Reports
2014 Iowa: Rahal Letterman Lanigan IndyCar Race Preview


DATE: July 11-12, 2014
QUALIFYING BROADCAST: Tape delayed on NBCSN at 4 PM ET. Also live at on www.indycar.com (timing & scoring
information with IMS Radio Network commentary)
RACE BROADCAST: Live on Saturday, July 12 at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN
RADIO BROADCAST: The race will air on IMS Radio Network, XM 209 & Sirius 213 channels
TRACK LAYOUT: 0.875-mile oval
RACE LENGTH: 300 laps / 262.5 miles
2013 WINNER: James Hinchcliffe
2013 POLESITTER: Helio Castroneves

RAHAL’S BEST
OVAL START/FINISH: Pole (Kansas 2009) / 2nd (Texas 2012 and Milwaukee 2011)
RAHAL’S BEST START/
FINISH AT IOWA: 6th / 5th – both in 2013

RLL’S TOP START/
FINISH AT IOWA: 4th / 3rd – both in 2007 by Scott Sharp

 

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NEWS & NOTES:

RLL LED AT IOWA SPEEDWAY IN 2013
The Iowa Corn Indy 300 will mark the fifth event for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) at Iowa Speedway. The best finish for the team is third in 2007 by Scott Sharp who also earned the top start for the team of fourth the same year. The team also has three top-10 finishes at the track. Prior to the 2014 event, the team prepared a total of six entries for drivers Scott Sharp (2007), Jeff Simmons (2007), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2008), Takuma Sato (2012), Graham Rahal (2013) and James Jakes (2013). Last year the team led with Graham Rahal who won Heat Race 2 to transfer to Heat Race 3 and led in the main race before he ran fourth in the closing laps but dropped to fifth while navigating traffic on the final lap. Jakes was fourth when he crashed during his Heat Race and ultimately finished 18th in the main race. The No. 15 National Guard entry for Graham Rahal will bring the team’s entry total to seven in 2014.

GRAHAM ON IOWA SPEEDWAY – ONE OF THE MOST DEMANDING RACES OF THE YEAR
The 2014 Iowa Corn Indy 300 will mark Graham’s seventh race here. He has earned four top-10 finishes in six starts with his best being fifth last year. He set the 19th fastest lap time in single-car qualifying in 2013 to determine that he would be in Heat Race 2. He started seventh, was the only driver to utilize the high line and drove to victory in Heat Race 2 to progress to Heat Race 3 where he also started seventh. Contact with Ed Carpenter on Lap 16 of 50 damaged his front wing and he held on to finish ninth of 10 cars to match his best start at Iowa of ninth. He started sixth after engine penalties were served and charged from 10th to second on his second stint. He challenged for the win and led Lap 160 until the last 20 laps where he dropped to fourth while navigating traffic and then fifth on the final lap. In 2012 he qualified 10th, started 20th (penalty for unapproved engine change) and finished 9th with Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR). In 2011 he qualified 20th and finished 15th with SCCGR. In 2010, he qualified 17th with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, led 11 laps and finished 9th. In 2009 he qualified 9th and finished 11th with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) and in 2008 he qualified 16th and finished 10th with NHLR. After setting the fastest lap during testing at Iowa Speedway on June 13, 2014, Rahal is looking forward to another competitive run at the high-banked short oval.

“The Iowa race last year is probably one of our high points last season – if not the high point. I thought we had a really good car, we were very competitive. I think we found that out in the heat race and didn’t have to tune the car that much going into the main event. I feel pretty excited coming into it this year because I think that our car is really good based on the test we had, we were the fastest car. We have extremely high expectations. It’s important for us to finish this season on a strong note and Iowa is going to be one of our best chances to get a win. We’ve had a lot of bad luck this season and its time for that to stop. There would be no better place for that to happen then Iowa.”

ON POSSIBLY SHOWING HIS HAND BY BEING THE FIRST TO TAKE THE HIGH LINE IN THE HEAT RACE

In his heat race, Rahal was the only driver to use the high line on the race track and that aided his charge to victory and enabled him to transfer to Heat Race 3. By that time other drivers took notice of his ability to run the high line and attempted it themselves. Rahal ultimately finished ninth to earn that starting spot in the main event the following day. He again ran well on the high line as did a few other drivers. He ran in the top-five the majority of the race and ultimately dropped from fourth to fifth on the final lap while navigating traffic on the shortest track the series competes on. Would it have been an asset to not have to show his hand in a Heat Race and instead surprise a few people in the main event? Perhaps.

“You can’t plan that stuff,” said Rahal. “We were trying to improve our position (in the heat race) so we did what we had to do. We did the best that we possibly could, and we did improve a bunch of positions. But at the end of the day, everybody saw it, everybody figured it out. What can you do? This year there won’t be any heat races so qualifying is going to be important. I think we found some things at the test that will help us in qualifying.”

RAHAL ON THE CHALLENGES OF THE RACE

“It’s challenging because it’s so small. There are such high G (Force) loads, it’s a very physical track. It’s a very demanding place to go race. It’s a tricky place because to get over the bumps and make the car good in all aspects of the track is very difficult if not impossible.”

RAHAL ON THE ON-TRACK ACTION IOWA SPEEDWAY PRODUCES

“It’s a fairly action-packed, busy race. I always have a fun race. There is quite a lot for fans to come out and see at Iowa Speedway. It’s a great place to go and there is always a great crowd. It’s a pretty unique layout and that provides for plenty of entertainment.”

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