Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio – Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
Pre-Race Notes

Round 14 of 16 in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series

DATE:                                                     July 31 – August 2, 2015
QUALIFYING BROADCAST:                Saturday, August 1 at 3:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network; LIVE on www.indycar.com (timing & scoring with audio commentary from IMS Radio Network)

RACE BROADCAST:                              Live on Sunday, August 2 at 1:30 p.m.  ET on CNBC. Re-aired on NBCSN from6-8:30 p.m. ET same day.

RADIO BROADCAST:                            The race will air on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius 212, XM 209 and www.indycar.com

TRACK LAYOUT:                                   2.258-mile, 13-turn road course
RACE LENGTH:                                      90 laps / 203miles
 
2014 WINNER:                                     Scott Dixon
2014 POLESITTER:                               Sebastien Bourdais (1:24.1610; 95.586 mph)
 

RAHAL’S BEST ROAD/STREET START/FINISH:     Pole at St. Pete (street) 2009 / 1st at St. Pete in 2008

RAHAL’S BEST MID-OHIO START/FINISH:             4th in 2009 with NHLR / 5th in 2014 with RLL; will be his eighth Indy car race here

RLL’S BEST START/FINISH AT MID-OHIO              Pole 1997 (Herta) / 3rd (B. Rahal 1997, 1998)

NEWS & NOTES:

18TH INDYCAR RACE AT MID-OHIO FOR RLL RACING

The 2015 Honda Indy 200 will mark the 18th 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 has 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 2015 event, the team prepared a total of 27 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 (2013-2014) and James Jakes (2013).  The team has earned TWO podiums (3rd – Rahal 1997, 1998), 10 top-five’s and 14 top-10 finishes at the track.  The No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake entry for Graham Rahal will bring the Indy car total to 28 entries in 2015.

GRAHAM ON WHETHER IT HAS SUNK IN THAT HE’S A CAREER-BEST SECOND IN POINTS

With three races to go this season, Rahal is second in series standings with a total of 403 points and trails and leader Juan Pablo Montoya by 42 (445) after Round 13 of 16. A total of 54 points are available at Mid-Ohio. The season-finale Go Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma is a double-points race. Graham was asked whether it has sunk in that he is ranked second, his highest series standing in his Indy car career to date.

“Not yet,” said Rahal. “Quite frankly I haven’t really thought about it. A lot of people have asked me about our win in Fontana and other things but truthfully I just haven’t really thought about the fact that we are second in the championship. I have just been focused on keep the team pointed in the right direction and keeping my mindset and everything sharp and ready for whatever may come. I think we have some great opportunities with the three races ahead of us and I hope we can catch up to Montoya a little bit if nothing else. But for sure being in second place is cool for me but I haven’t really thought about it too much.”

GRAHAM AT MID-OHIO

This will be Graham’s eighth Indy car race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the home track for the Ohio native who was born in nearby Columbus.  His best start is fourth in 2009 and his best finish is fifth in 2014. He has competed in many other series at his “home track.”  In 2014, he qualified seventh and avoided an opening lap, multi-car crash to take over fourth place. He maintained a top-five position throughout the race with the exception of pit cycles and ran as high as third at one point. An alternate strategy played out for eventual winner Scott Dixon who started 22nd and made four pit stops in comparison to the majority who made three. Rahal took the checkered flag in fifth place to better his previous best finish at this track of eighth place in 2009.In 2013, 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.  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, stalled in the pits after his first stop and finished 24th with SCCGR.  In 2010, he qualified 25th with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) and had moved up to 14th when he attempted to pass Wheldon for 13th on Lap 61/85 in T2 and went off course and dropped to 21st. Finished 20th.  In 2009, he started fourth with NHLR and looked likely to finish 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.  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).   Tested a Grand Am car here in 2007.

RAHAL ON FAN SUPPORT DURING HIS STRONG SEASON AND ESPECIALLY FOR HIS HOME RACE

“I am thrilled to be going home. It’s obviously always a big race and weekend for me. Now with everything that has gone on with the championship I think that friends and fans are definitely excited and that’s been a lot of fun for me to see people support us in the championship and obviously at my home race. I definitely wasn’t expecting to be in this position but I’m looking forward to it.

There has been a lot of fan support this season overall and that’s been cool but heading into my home race is going to be fun. Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is a big part of why I am now racing Indy cars. I went there as a kid, camped out, ran around causing trouble and just had a great time. It helped create a bond for me with racing in a family atmosphere and I’m thrilled to be back. Last year was a great finish for us and obviously I am hoping that we can do a lot better this time around.”

GRAHAM ON HIS TWO SECOND PLACE FINISHES IN THREE ROAD COURSES TO DATE IN 2015

The Honda Indy 200 will mark the fourth race on a road course to date this season and Rahal has finished second in two of the three. At NOLA Motorsports Park, he was fourth when he made his final pit stop with the front runners but those who stayed out and gambled on fuel strategy benefitted in the shortened race which relegated Rahal to a disappointing eighth place finish. At Barber Motorsports Park, he returned to the track in sixth place from his final pit stop with 19 laps to go and was 21-seconds behind race leader Josef Newgarden. By the time he passed reigning series champion Will Power and then Ryan Hunter-Reay for fourth, he was still 18.9 seconds behind Newgarden but in the final 11 laps he turned lap times that were one-to-two-seconds faster than the race leader and passed Castroneves. On the final lap he passed second-place Scott Dixon and closed the gap to eventual winner Newgarden to 2.2-seconds. Who knows what could have happened if only there were two more laps to go in the race. At the Indy GP, he avoided a Lap 1 crash and went from 17th to sixth, led three times for a total of 9 laps and had the fastest accumulated time in the pits en route to another second place finish.  He is hoping for another good result on a road course at this Sunday’s Honda Indy 200.

“All those (road course) tracks, we ran pretty close set-up-wise to each other so I do feel really good about where we stand with our road course setup heading into the Honda Indy 200. I feel like we should be pretty strong. We have been one of the more competitive cars on all tracks but what gives me confidence is knowing that at Mid-Ohio last year we did as well as we did and I don’t think our car was nearly as good then as it is now. I’m definitely excited to get out there and get running in my Steak ‘n Shake Honda because I do think we have a chance to win this thing. The guys have been absolutely excellent in the pits. What may hurt us a little bit is we have a bad pit position being towards the back but I really feel like we’re in a pretty good spot going into this race and it’s a great opportunity for us to gain some points. I’m definitely looking forward to that.”

RAHAL ON HIS STRATEGY FOR THE REST OF SEASON

“I don’t want to change our mentality.  I want the guys and I want myself to stay focused on what we’ve been doing – trying to do the absolute best that we can but as I’ve always felt we can’t over think this either so with that mindset I’m taking the approach of ‘Business as usual, carry on like we have all year.’ If we do that, just like we did in Iowa, things are going to take care of themselves. That’s my focus, that’s my plan. It’s a big week for us, our family, the Rally for the Ranch and everything else that we do. I hope everything goes really smoothly.”

GRAHAM AND HIS LOVE OF ALL-THINGS THE OHIO STATE

Graham has already unveiled his The Ohio State-themed racing gloves for the Honda Indy 200 on social media. Stay tuned for more information on how he plans to celebrate his passion for the university.

BOBBY RAHAL FOUNDATION TO HONOR BOBBY UNSER AT “RALLY FOR THE RANCH” BENEFIT THURSDAY

Bobby Unser will be honored at the 4th Annual Safelite AutoGlass “Rally for The Ranch,” a three-event extravaganza to be held July 30 – August 2. 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), Al Unser, Jr. (2013) and Rick Mears (2014).

This three-event extravaganza begins with a dinner on Thursday, July 31st where 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 including Graham Rahal.  Other notable racing figures such as Derrick Walker, Johnny Unser, Mike Shank, Dan Andersen, Corey and John Fergus, and Bill Patterson, among others, will also be in attendance. The annual car show at Easton Town Center has been moved to Saturdayand is free to the public. Visitors will see the streets filled with a wide array of extremely collectible, exotic, vintage, race and street cars.

Held on Sunday, August 2nd, the 2015 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.