Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama – Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Alabama
Round 4 of 16 in the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series
DATE: Friday – Sunday, April 22-24, 2016
PRACTICE BROADCAST: Live on NBC Sports Network from 12:00 – 1:30 p.m. ET Friday, April 22
QUALIFYING BROADCAST: Live on NBC Sports Network from 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. ET Saturday, April 23; live on the INDYCAR16 app, INDYCAR Radio Network and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring)
RACE BROADCAST: Live on NBC Sports Network, Sunday, April 24 from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. ET
RADIO BROADCAST: The race will air on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius 212, XM 209 andwww.indycar.com
TRACK LAYOUT: 2.38-mile, 17-turn road course
RACE LENGTH: 90 laps / 207 miles
2015 WINNER: Josef Newgarden
2015 POLESITTER: Helio Castroneves (1:07.1925; 123.228 mph)
RLLR TOP START/FINISH AT BARBER: 8th by Jakes in 2013/ 2nd by Rahal in 2015; four events
G. RAHAL’S BEST START/FINISH AT BARBER: 8th / 2nd – both in 2015; will be his seventh race here
RAHAL’S HIGHEST SERIES START/FINISH: Pole at St. Pete (street) 2009 & Kansas (oval) 2009 / 1st in St. Pete in 2008, Fontana (oval; 500miles) 2015, Mid-Ohio (road) 2015
NEWS & NOTES:
RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING – FIFTH RACE AT BARBER MOTORSPORTS PARK
The 2016 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will mark the fifth IndyCar Series race for the team at Barber Motorsports Park (BMP). Last year, Rahal started eighth and was in sixth place after his final stop with 19 laps to go and closed a 20-second gap from the race leader to 2.2 seconds by the time the checkered flag came out. If only the race was 1-2 laps longer. In 2014, Rahal finished 17th after running as high as 10th but was hit by two cars. Servia started 19th, ran as high as 14th and finished 20th. In 2013, Rahal set a lap time fast enough to progress to Round 2 and qualify in the top-12 if he had been in Group 2 but he was in Group 1 and ultimately qualified 21st. He had to pit for a new nose on the opening lap after the field checked up and he hit Oriol Servia. He moved up to 12th place but ran out of fuel on the final lap due to a malfunction in the fueling system and dropped to 21st. James Jakes qualified 11th in 2013 but had to pit early in the race when the camber shims fell out of the left rear upright which put him two laps down to the leader. He soldiered on through fueling issues, set the fastest lap of the race and finished 23rd. In 2012, Takuma Sato set the third fastest time in Friday’s first practice for the team and was fastest in the wet second session but traffic limited his qualifying performance to 16th. In the race he passed four cars for 12th place on red alternate tires but struggled on primary tires and ultimately retired in 24th place due to mechanical failure after 52/90 laps.
For 2016, RLL has entered the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda-Dallara-Firestone car for Graham Rahal which brings the total to seven entries for RLL for this event.
GRAHAM AT BARBER MOTORSPORTS PARK
The 2015 race at Barber Motorsports Park kicked off a strong run of races that largely continued for the rest of the season. Rahal started eighth at BMP and passed Kanaan on the opening lap. He later lost a position to Filippi but passed Dixon for 7th. He pitted and ran ninth place but moved to third as others made their stops. He held off charges from fourth place Hinchcliffe on several restarts and later built a gap on him while leading Laps 35-46. He pitted from the lead for his second stop, dropped to 15th but cycled back into the lead for Laps 65-69. He made his final stop on Lap 71 and returned to the track in sixth place, approx.. 20 seconds behind the leader. With new tires and more fuel than others, he consistently turned lap times that were one-to-two seconds quicker than those in front of him and eventually passed Power, Hunter-Reay and Castroneves before he was able to close the gap on second-place Dixon in the closing laps. With less than two laps to go, he passed Dixon but ran out of time to catch eventual race winner Newgarden and finished second. In 2014, Rahal started 18th on a wet track, ran as high as 10th, dropped four places after being hit by two cars and ultimately finished 17th. In 2013, Rahal set a lap time fast enough to progress to Round 2 and qualify in the top-12 if he had been in Group 2 but he was in Group 1 and ultimately qualified 21st. He had to pit for a new nose on the opening lap after the field checked up and he hit Servia. He moved up to 12th place but ran out of fuel on the final lap due to a malfunction in the fueling system and dropped to 21st. He started 8th, led one lap and finished fourth here in 2012 for Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR). He started 10th and finished 18th in 2011 for SCCGR and started 15th and finished 17th for Sarah Fisher Racing in 2010. Graham hopes to have a competitive run like in 2015 this weekend.
“Our race in Barber last year was one of the most competitive for us the entire season. It started off a string of podium finishes for us and I am hoping that will happen again this year. We were competitive at the St. Petersburg and Long Beach street courses and I hope that carries over to the Barber road course. It’s been a rough start to 2016 for our team and I feel like we’ve been right there performance wise. We just haven’t maximized the opportunities. Hopefully in Barber we can make it happen. Last year kick started our season, we need to make it happen once again.”
GRAHAM ON THE BARBER MOTORSPORTS PARK COURSE
“I think it’s a really cool layout. It’s a difficult course because it has a lot of very high speed corners, and several really slow ones. It’s hard to get a good balance out of the car on both of those parts of the track. It’s a difficult track to tackle, but after running so well last year I’m optimistic about our competitiveness this year. Physically it’s a very challenging event, and I’m looking forward to facing that and hopefully coming away with a great result. My favorite part is the back section of the track and it is extremely tricky. There are a lot of really high-speed, high (G-force) load, very physical corners and that is difficult. It’s very easy to make a mistake. I would say that not only is it my favorite, but it’s probably the hardest part of the track.”
GRAHAM ON WHY BARBER MOTORSPORTS PARK IS SPECIAL
“Location makes this track special. It’s in beautiful Alabama and the people are great. The venue and the way Mr. Barber built the place is magical. We love racing there.”
GRAHAM ON EXPECTATIONS IN THE HONDA INDY ALABAMA
“I expect to be very good. We had a decent test there, not great, but I think we can respond and make it a strong weekend with a great performance from our team.”
POINTS TO DATE
Rahal is ranked ninth in Verizon IndyCar Series standings with 59 points after three races. Long Beach race winner Simon Pagenaud leads the standings with 134. Graham’s highest qualifying position this season is seventh in St. Pete and his highest finish is fifth in Phoenix.