PENN GRADE DRIVER RAHAL QUALIFIED 17TH FOR THE TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH AFTER CONTACT IN THE MORNING SESSION
1) Helio Castroneves 1:07.1246 / 105.547 mph
17) Graham Rahal 1:07.8841 / 104.366 mph
GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 PennGrade Motor Oil Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “Hats off to my guys for getting the PennGrade car repaired. We thought we would be able to advance in qualifying but that wasn’t the case. The car was the same as this morning but in certain areas the balance was okay but that was as good of a lap as I could have done. There was nowhere on the lap that I thought I gave up some time. In Turn 9 I had a couple of big moments again. We just have to find a little overall grip. It seemed like the reds (Firestone optional tires) change my car quite severely. Even at the start of the session I was struggling a little bit but the blacks (primary tires) seemed more consistent for me than when I went to the reds. I just feel bad for the guys. They worked hard to get the car ready for qualifying. We thought we had a good horse but we’ll work on it for the race.”
- FAST FACTS: After setting the third fastest time overall on Friday, Rahal had held the fastest spot in Saturdaymorning’s final practice at one point late in the session and was ranked sixth with a few minutes to go when he made contact with the wall in Turn 9. His front and rear wings were damaged as were the left side corners of the car which the team repaired in time for qualifying. He set the ninth fastest time in Group 1, Round 1 and did not progress to Round 2… Will be his 10th Champ or Indy car race here, 11th overall, and fourth for his father’s team… In 2015, he qualified eighth in Long Beach but struggled in the race and finished 11th… In 2014, he finished seventh after struggling in practice and qualifying 23rd… In 2013, he finished second after starting 11th with RLL… In 2012, he qualified 15th for Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR), started 8th due to penalties to Chevy-powered teams, ran as high as fourth but finished 24th due to contact with Marco Andretti… In 2011, he qualified 16th for SCCGR and finished 13th… In 2010 he started and finished 22nd for Sarah Fisher Racing after contact… In 2009, he started seventh and finished 12th for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR)…In 2008 he started ninth and had a podium in sight when he was alongside third place but contact during this pass led to a 13th place finish for NHLR. Started fifth in 2007 but the pit strategy of others and slow fuel flow related to teething problems for the all-new Panoz Champ Car on two stops limited his finish to eighth place for NHLR. In the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Series race here he started seventh and finished fifth… Is ranked seventh in series point standings with 44 points after Round 2 of 16… Has three IndyCar Series wins (2008 – St. Pete street course; 2015 – Fontana Super Speedway, Mid-Ohio road course) and two poles (2009 – St. Pete street course, Kansas oval) and his highest series season-ending standing is fourth place in 2015.
3 POLES, 6 PODIUMS FOR RLL IN 16 INDY CAR RACES AT LONG BEACH: This marks the 17th time for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) to compete in the event. Although the team didn’t compete in Indy car races here from 2004-2011 while they fielded a fulltime entry in the Indy Racing League (2004-2008), they did compete in the 2003 and 2004 Atlantic races with Danica Patrick and in the 2007 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race. In 2009, the team returned to the streets of Long Beach in the ALMS with BMW Team RLL and has finished on the podium each year since then which makes Long Beach the most successful venue for the team in the current WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Since its inaugural season in 2009, the team has not failed to finish the race without at least one car on the podium at Long Beach. The team has won the race three times (2011, 2013 and 2015).
NEXT UP: The pre-race warmup will take place from 9:00-9:30 a.m. PT. The 80-lap Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will be televised live on NBCSN beginning at 4:00 PM ET Sunday, April 17.