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Jul 16, 2014 - 07:05 AM
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2014 Toronto: Rahal Letterman Lanigan IndyCar Race Preview
Posted by: newsla on Jul 16, 2014 - 07:04 AM
IndyCar Weekend Team Reports
2014 Toronto: Rahal Letterman Lanigan IndyCar Race Preview

DATE: July 18-20, 2014
QUALIFYING BROADCAST: LIVE on www.indycar.com (timing & scoring with audio commentary)
RACE BROADCAST: Live on Saturday, July 19 and Sunday, July 20 – both at 3:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN
RADIO BROADCAST: The race will air on IMS Radio Network, XM 209 & Sirius channels 213


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TRACK LAYOUT: 1.75-mile, 11-turn temporary street course
RACE LENGTH: 85 laps / 148.75 miles

2013 WINNER(S): Scott Dixon – Race 1 & 2
2013 POLESITTER(S): Dario Franchitti (59.6756, 105.872 mph) & Scott Dixon (58.9686, 107.142 mph)

STREET START/FINISH: Pole at St. Pete (street) 2009 / 1st at St. Pete in 2008
START/FINISH: 3rd in 2009 / 5th in 2010; will be his 8th & 9th Indy car race here and 10th overall

STREET START/FINISH: 4th at Houston Race 1 in 2014 / 10th at Houston Race 1 in 2013
START/FINISH: First time to race here

FINISH AT TORONTO: Pole 1992 (B. Rahal) / 2nd (B. Rahal 1992, 1994, 1995; Jourdain Jr. 2003)


The Honda Indy Toronto will mark the 15th year of Indy car racing for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) here and third since 2003. The team also competed in the Atlantic Series races here in 2003 and 2004. The team earned a total of four second place finishes (Rahal 1992, 1994, 1995; Michel Jourdain Jr. 2003) and best start was pole in 1992 by Bobby Rahal. Prior to the 2014 event, the team prepared a total of 26 Indy car entries for drivers Bobby Rahal (1992-98), Mike Groff (1994), Raul Boesel (1995), Bryan Herta (1996-99), Max Papis (1999-2001), Jimmy Vasser (2002), Michel Jourdain Jr. (2002-03), Takuma Sato (2012), Graham Rahal (2013 x 2) and James Jakes (2013 x 2). The team also prepared three Toyota Atlantic entries (Danica Patrick 2003-2004; Chris Festa 2004). The team has earned FIVE podiums (3rd – Rahal 1996), 9 top-five’s and 17 top-10 finishes at the track. The No. 15 National Guard entry for Graham Rahal and the No. 16 RLL entry for Luca Filippi will bring the Indy car total to 30 entries in 2014 (after two races per driver).


The 2014 Honda Indy Toronto 2 in T.O. will be Graham Rahal’s eighth and ninth Indy car races here and 10th overall. In Race 1 of 2013, he started 18th and moved to 17th when Justin Wilson (and also Newgarden, behind) stalled before the standing start. On the rolling start he gained two spots and another when he passed Takuma Sato on the following lap. He was later hit by Tristan Vautier, who was assessed a drive through penalty for avoidable contact, on Lap 35 and fell three laps down by the time he got restarted and pitted. He finished the 85-lap race in 20th place. In 2013 Race 2, he qualified 20th but started 19th after gaining a position due to Ryan Briscoe breaking his wrist in Race 1 and being replaced by Carlos Munoz, who started in the back. He drove to a 13th place finish. In 2012, he qualified 12th, started 10th after penalties were served to two competitors ahead on the grid and was sixth when contact in Turn 1 forced him to retire from the race in 23rd with Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR)… In 2011 he qualified fifth, led 23 laps and finished 13th for SCCGR. In 2010, he started 14th with Newman/Haas Racing and earned his best finish since his 2008 win in St. Pete of fifth place. In 2009, he started third with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing but was hit by second place starter Will Power, who squeezed him to the wall on the opening lap before T1. A forced stop to replace his front wing dropped him to the back but he charged through the field into seventh place. He held his position behind Patrick but flat-spotted his tires which led to losing three positions before his next stop. He tried to pass the lapped car of Ed Carpenter on the inside on a right-handed turn but the contact ended his race in 20th place after 57/85 laps. There was not a race in Toronto in 2008. Started 15th in the 2007 Champ Car race as a rookie for NHLR but an evasive move to avoid a pile up on Lap 1 led to him hitting the wall and a subsequent stop for a new front wing. Had to pit again for another front wing later in the race after running as high as second. He retired in 11th place after he made contact for the third time due to a broken steering rack. He started from pole in the 2006 Atlantic race but was hit by Raphael Matos on the first lap. After the team repaired the damaged suspension he returned to the track a few laps down, set the fastest race lap but later retired in 15th place.

“Toronto is probably one of the most difficult courses we go to because of the fact that it’s fairly bumpy, and it’s tight,” said Rahal. “There are some high commitment corners and a lot of corners where concrete picks up mid-corner and that makes it pretty challenging for you. To get the car right there is always pretty difficult but I think it’s a driver’s track; you can manhandle it a little bit to get more speed out of it if the car is good. With it being a doubleheader I think its going to be a challenging weekend. As we saw last year, after Day 1 which was so hot, I think we were all very fortunate that Day 2 wasn’t nearly as hot. We’ll have to see what it gives us.”


In Filippi’s six previous IndyCar Series events at Mid-Ohio (2013), Baltimore (2013) and Houston (four races; 2 each in ’13 and ‘14), his best start is fourth from Race 1 in this year’s Houston doubleheader after nearly six months out of a race car and his best finish is 10th in Race 1 in Houston in 2013. He will compete at Toronto for the first time and is looking forward to the experience after hearing about the event.
“First of all I have heard that the atmosphere around the race weekend is great so I can’t wait to experience that. From a course point of view, I heard it is a very technical course and I the race is very entertaining. There are some places to overtake so that the race is interesting. It is also a home race for our sponsors IMPCO and Fight SMA.”

The Honda Indy 2 in T.O. will mark the last two street races of the 2014 season. Rahal’s best start and finish to date this season came on street courses. He challenged for the win in Race 1 in Detroit and finished second and qualified fourth for Race 2 in Houston. He is hoping to maximize that potential this weekend.
“This weekend is another opportunity for us to have a competitive couple of races. Our street course car has come a long way. I think we have a really, really strong package to go there with and a great opportunity to be extremely quick. Hopefully we can maximize the potential we have this weekend. It's bumpy, very busy, and I think it will be ultra competitive. I think as a team, with our recent developments, we should see an improved performance on the street courses, and we have shown to be quick at other spots this year. I am definitely looking forward to it.”

“We think we have a good baseline setup coming out of Houston that we developed together during the weekend so we will probably start with something similar to that and go from there. I think we had a good car so it’s just a matter of me getting used to the circuit. I’m going to study on-board camera footage and previous races but I think we have enough time in the practice sessions to learn the course and be ready for the first qualifying session.”

Most drivers anticipated that heat and humidity would be a factor at not one, but two races in Houston Both Rahal and Filippi were pleasantly surprised by how well they felt following the two events and are anticipating that experience helped condition them for the double headers in Toronto.
“I felt fine,” said Rahal. “We didn’t complete the whole deal. I was obviously disappointed because we wanted to do better. Toronto is going to be like that, it can be extremely hot there and extremely difficult. The forecast calls for reasonable temperatures so that will help.”
“More or less the Houston doubleheaders were as expected; it was tough,” added Filippi. “For sure it wasn’t easy but it’s obvious that having more mileage in the car will make it a little easier in Toronto. I didn’t test (an Indy car) since last year and everything went well in Houston. Also in the last laps of Race 2 in Houston I was still in good shape so from that point of view it was tough as expected but I was still fine. It probably won’t be as hot in Toronto so it will probably be a little easier than Houston was.”

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