STEAK ‘N SHAKE DRIVER RAHAL SET THE SECOND FASTEST TIME IN PRACTICE FOR THE INDYCAR SEASON FINALE GOPRO GRAND PRIX OF SONOMA

GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “It was a good session. The Steak ‘n Shake car feels pretty good. I think we found some big gains that I think will help us a lot so I’m pretty positive right now. I was on a really good lap there but didn’t quite finish it off so I’m looking forward to getting out there tomorrow to see what we’ve got. This (title fight) is going to be hard, it’s going to be pretty tight.”

  • FAST FACTS: Will be his eighth Indy car race here. His best start is sixth place with Newman/Haas/ Lanigan Racing (NHLR) in 2009 and best finish is fifth with Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR) in 2012. He has finished in the top-10 in four of his seven races. In 2014, he avoided a multi-car collision on the start in Sonoma and moved from his 14th place qualifying position to 12th. He pit out of sequence on Lap 8 and climbed up to run fourth before his second stop where he pit under caution with Sato and Conway, but those two topped off two additional times before green conditions which helped them later. Rahal climbed back into fourth when the majority of the field pitted during a caution for Saavedra and later passed Briscoe, Kanaan and Conway to take the lead on Lap 64 of 85 which he held until Lap 81 when he had to pit for 2.2 gallons of fuel. Due to extreme fuel conservation, the fuel setting he had been running in didn’t have Pit Lane Speed control and he was given a drive through penalty for speeding when he entered the pits for his splash of fuel and served it on Lap 84 of 85 which ultimately resulted in a 20th place finish. Rahal qualified eighth in 2013, ran as high as sixth but contact while in the middle of a three-wide situation dropped him to the back and he rallied to finish 11th.  He qualified 15th for SCCGR in 2012, started 13th after grid penalties were served and finished fifth.  He qualified 13th for SCCGR in 2011 and finished eighth. In 2010, he qualified 16th with NHR and finished 9th.  Made the final Firestone Fast Six in qualifying six times in the seven road/street races in 2009 and started sixth in Sonoma for NHLR.  Contact on the opening lap with Marco Andretti forced an early stop for a new front wing but his drive shaft broke when he attempted to leave the pits.  After the car was repaired in the garage area, he returned to the track many laps down in 21st position and ultimately retired in the same place after completing 30 of the 75 laps.  He started 15th and finished 8th here in 2008 with NHLR…  His top finish this season are wins at Auto Club Speedway (June 27) and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Aug. 2) and his top start is fifth in Pocono and Detroit Race 2 (entrant points)… Rahal is second in series standings with a total of 466 points and trails leader Juan Pablo Montoya by 34 (500) after Round 15 of 16.

RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT SONOMA … The race will mark the eighth Indy car event for RLL here. The highest start and finish for the team here is by Buddy Rice in 2005 when he started sixth and finished second.  Prior to the 2015 event, the team prepared a total of 13 Indy car entries for drivers Buddy Rice (2005-2006), Vitor Meira (2005), Danica Patrick (2005-2006), Jeff Simmons (2006), Scott Sharp (2007), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2007-2008), Takuma Sato (2012), Graham Rahal (2013-2014) and James Jakes (2013).  The team has earned one podium (2nd – Rice 2005), one top-five and four top-10 finishes at the track.  The No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake entry for Graham Rahal will bring the Indy car total to 14 entries in 2015. 

NEXT UP:  Practice 2 will take place tomorrow from 10:45-11:30 a.m. PT and be televised live on NBCSN at 1:30 PM ET. Qualifying will be 3:05 – 4:20 and will be broadcast by NBCSN at 6:30 p.m. ET Saturday.  Timing and Scoring information and live streaming video is available for all sessions from www.indycar.com and includes live commentary by the INDYCAR Radio Network. The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma will be televised live on NBCSN beginning at 4 PM ET Sunday, August 30.