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Jul 30, 2014 - 06:25 AM
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2014 Mid-Ohio: Rahal Letterman Lanigan IndyCar Race Preview
Posted by: newsla on Jul 30, 2014 - 06:23 AM
IndyCar Weekend Team Reports
2014 Mid-Ohio: Rahal Letterman Lanigan IndyCar Race Preview


The 2014 Honda Indy 200 will mark the 17th Indy car event for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) here. The team also competed in the Atlantic Series race in 2003 with Danica Patrick and competed in ALMS races here in 2007 and from 2009-2012. The highest IndyCar finish for the team here is two third place finishes (Rahal 1997, 1998) and the highest start is pole (Herta 1997). Another front row start came in 1999 (Herta; 2nd). 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) Ryan Hunter-Reay (2007-2008), Takuma Sato (2012), Graham Rahal (2013) and James Jakes (2013). The team has earned TWO podiums (3rd – Rahal 1997, 1998), 9 top-five’s and 13 top-10 finishes at the track. The No. 15 National Guard entry for Graham Rahal will bring the Indy car total to 27 entries in 2014.


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Graham Rahal qualified 22nd, and ran as high as eighth on a three pit stop strategy but finished 18th after being held up by drivers on a two-stop strategy versus the majority of the field, that were on a three-stop strategy. James Jakes qualified 10th, ran as high as eighth and finished 13th after also being hindered up by those on a two-stop strategy.

“Strategy is a big part of these races, but speed is as well,” said Rahal. “I don't think we had the speed we needed there last year, and we must improve for this year. I know we can and we will.”

The majority of the IndyCar Series field tested last Thursday, July 24 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Although the team had a slight setback and was unable to run as much as expected, they were able to continue to improve the road course setup.
“The test went pretty well for us,” said Rahal. “We weren’t the quickest but we also had a small electrical issue that kept us out of the "happy hour" of the test. I think we came a long way on our road course setup. I think we are finding things that are definitely making the car quicker. We just need to put it all together on race weekend.”

The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio will mark Graham’s seventh Indy car race here and second with his father’s Indy car team. Rahal was born in nearby Columbus. He has competed in many other series at his “home track.” At the age of 16 in 2005, he became the youngest to claim the SCCA National Formula Atlantic championship at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs here by a dominant 43-seconds. He also competed in the Star Mazda race here in 2005 (S/F 4/9) and tested a Grand Am car in 2007 before making his Indy car debut at the track in 2008 with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR). He is looking forward to returning to his home race.

“It is a pretty physical track, but it's the same for everyone. The ups and downs and elevation changes of this track are what make it fun and difficult. I think if the heat comes up as it typically does in Ohio in August, it will be a pretty hot and tiring race. I look forward to that challenge and can't wait to get out on track.”

Graham’s top start at Mid-Ohio of fourth place and top finish of eighth both came in 2009 with NHLR. Last year he qualified 22nd, and ran as high as eighth on a three pit stop strategy but finished 18th after that strategy was foiled when the majority of the field was held up by drivers on a two-stop strategy. In 2012 he qualified 22nd, started 21st (engine penalty ahead on grid) and finished 11th with Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR). In 2011 he qualified sixth but a problem on his first stop limited his finish to 24th with SCCGR. In 2010, he qualified 25th with NHLR and had moved up to 14th when he attempted to pass Wheldon for 13th on Lap 61/85 in Turn 2 and went off course and dropped to 21st. He ultimately finished 20th. In 2009, he started fourth with NHLR and looked likely to finish no lower than fourth before an off-track excursion while fifth late in the race led to an eighth place finish. In 2008, he started 14th with NHLR and ran as high as eighth, but an off track excursion on Lap 53 limited him to a 16th place finish.

Team co-owner Rahal competed in 16 IndyCar races here (nine as driver; seven as owner/driver). He won two races (1985 from pole, 1986), two poles (1983, 1985), made three front row starts (2nd in 1987), finished on the podium eight of his 16 races (including his final Indy car podium) and earned 9 top-fives and 11 top-10 finishes.

Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears will be honored at the 3rd Annual Safelite AutoGlass “Rally for The Ranch,” a three-event extravaganza to be held July 31st and August 3rd. The event is supported by The Bobby Rahal Foundation and benefits The Buckeye Ranch and its programs that help area youths and their families dealing with mental, behavioral and substance abuse issues. Previous honorees include Johnny Rutherford (2012) and Al Unser, Jr. (2013).

This three-event extravaganza begins with a car show, free to the public, from 3-9 p.m. on Thursday, July 31st at Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio. Visitors will see the streets filled with a wide array of extremely collectible, exotic, vintage, race and street cars. Also on July 31st, 500 VIP guests can purchase a ticket to attend the lavish Rally VIP Banquet at The Aladdin Shrine Event & Conference Center. Beginning at 5:30 p.m., attendees will enjoy cocktails & hors d’oeuvres while perusing a charity auction and mingling with various guests such as current and past Indy car drivers Graham Rahal, Helio Castroneves, Will Power, Juan Pablo Montoya, Sebastian Saavedra and Bryan Herta. Other notable racing dignitaries such as Derrick Walker, Tim Cindric, Mike Shank, Dan Andersen, Brian Till and Jeremy Shaw, among others, will also be in attendance.

Held on Sunday, August 3rd, the 2014 Rally’s final event includes tickets and paddock passes to the Verizon
IndyCar Series stop at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio for The Honda Indy 200. Complete with VIP hospitality, attendees are encouraged to arrive to Championship Row beginning at 9:30 a.m. Lunch service begins at 12:30 p.m. with cars taking the green flag at 3:50 p.m.

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