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Aug 28, 2014 - 02:07 PM
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2014 Fontana: Rahal Letterman Lanigan IndyCar Race Preview
Posted by: newsla on Aug 28, 2014 - 02:02 PM
IndyCar Weekend Team Reports
2014 Fontana: Rahal Letterman Lanigan IndyCar Race Preview


The 2014 MAVTV 500 will mark the 13th IndyCar race for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) here. The team was entered in seven CART/Champ Car races from 1997-2003 but the 2003 event was cancelled due to wildfires. In total, the team competed in six CART/Champ Car races (all scheduled as 500-mile races; five run as such) and six Indy Racing League/IndyCar Series events (2002-2005, 2012-2013). The team won ONE RACE (Jimmy Vasser 2002), made TWO front row starts (2nd: Max Papis 1999, Kenny Brack 2003), earned FOUR podiums (2nd - Papis 1999 & 2001; 3rd - Vitor Meira 2005), and led 407 laps (chart available). The team entered cars for Bobby Rahal (1997-1998), Bryan Herta (1997-1999), Max Papis (1999-2001), Kenny Brack (2000-2001, 2003), Jimmy Vasser (2002 – both CCWS & IRL), Michel Jourdain (2002-2003), Buddy Rice (2004-2005), Vitor Meira (2004-2005), Danica Patrick (2005), Takuma Sato (2012), Graham Rahal (2013) and James Jakes (2013). The No. 15 National Guard entry for Graham Rahal will bring that total to 23 Indy car entries in this race.


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Rahal qualified 18th but started 22nd after grid penalties were assessed. He was in 14th place, one lap down to the leaders, when a mechanical failure ended his race and he ultimately finished 15th. Jakes qualified sixth, started fifth after grid penalties were assessed, led one lap (Lap 39) and had completed 113 of 250 laps after having recently made a pit stop and was in 21st place when he was collected in a multi-car accident triggered by Justin Wilson’s spin.

The MAV TV 500 will be Graham’s third Indy car race here. In 2013 he qualified 18th but started 22nd after grid penalties were assessed. He was in 14th place, one lap down to the leaders, when a mechanical failure ended his race and he ultimately finished 15th. He qualified 11th in 2012 with Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR), started 18th after a penalty for an unapproved engine change and finished sixth. He is looking to close the season with a top-five performance.

“I did alright at Fontana in 2012. We weren’t the best car but we fought our way until the end of the race. And then last year, we were struggling but then we were starting to pass our way back up the field and then we had an engine issue. We’re going to have some work to do to be more competitive and get towards the front this year. At the same time I feel pretty confident that we can get my best result there and finish off the season on a good note.

“Overall it’s a long race, its all about patience, pacing yourself and the team and trying to keep your nose clean. You have to understand that at times during the race you’re going to have good parts and bad ones and you just need to focus on making sure you are there for the last 100 miles and have the car and equipment that’s able to push hard towards the finish.”

“Every time you go on an oval you learn something and I think our starting setup will come from those as well as the things we learn from the test Wednesday night. Hopefully we learn from there and work our way to a better position for the weekend. It is a double points race which means there are a lot of points to be gained or lost and it will be extremely important to perform at our best to gain as many positions in the championship as possible. As I said in our strategy meeting in Sonoma, we’re not looking to hit a double, triple or even home runs at this point. It’s all about trying to hit a Grand Slam. For us we can be quite aggressive in what we do and hope that it works.”

“I think we have learned a lot as a team; I have learned a ton. Overall there is a lot from this year that we can take away to make sure that we improve as a team, as a driver and an organization for next year. If we can end it on a high note it would be a nice thing to take into the off season.”

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