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Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

ABC Supply 500 – Pocono Raceway

Pre-Race Notes

Round 14 of 16 in the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series

NEWS & NOTES:

DATE: August 20-21, 2016

QUALIFYING BROADCAST: Tape-delayed on Sunday, August 21 at12 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Network; Live on www.indycar.com (timing & scoring with audio commentary from INDYCAR Radio Network) from 1:30-2:45 p.m. ET

RACE BROADCAST: Live on Sunday, August 21 at 3:00 p.m.  ET on NBCSN

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

 TRACK LAYOUT: 2.5-mile triangular oval

RACE LENGTH: 200 laps / 500 miles

2015 WINNER: Ryan Hunter-Reay

2015 POLESITTER: Helio Castroneves (2-lap avg. speed of 220.530 mph)

RAHAL’S BEST OVAL START/FINISH: Pole (Kansas 2009) / 1st (Fontana 2015)

RAHAL’S BEST POCONO START/FINISH: 5th in 2015 / 18th in 2013; three races

RAHAL’S BEST 500-MILE START/FINISH: 4th – 2009 Indy 500 / 1st – Fontana 2015

RLL’S BEST POCONO START/FINISH: 5th in 2015 by Rahal / 12th in 2013 by James Jakes

RLL’S BEST 500-MILE START/FINISH: 1st – Buddy Rice, 2004 Indy 500 / 1st – Vasser (2002 Fontana), Rice (2004 Indy 500), G. Rahal (2015 Fontana)

NOTES & QUOTES:

 

RLL AT POCONO RACEWAY

The 2016 ABC Supply 500 will mark the fourth open-wheel race at Pocono Raceway since 1989 as well as the fourth for the team. The 2.5-mile oval hosted Indy car races from 1971 to 1989 and team co-owner Bobby Rahal competed in eight races here from 1982-1989.  The team entered cars for Graham Rahal (2013-2015) and James Jakes (2013) at this track and the No. 15 Bobby Rahal Automotive Group entry for Rahal will be the fifth for the team here.  

 

2015 POCONO REWIND

With his win in the 2015 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio on August 2, Graham Rahal closed his point deficit to series leader Juan Pablo Montoya from 42 to 9 with two races to go.  Unfortunately, contact from Tristan Vautier in the penultimate race at Pocono, led to Rahal retiring in 20th place which enabled Montoya, who finished third, to build his lead to 34 points entering the double-points season-finale in Sonoma. Rahal recalled the disappointment of the outcome.

“It was a bummer as we had a great car. We were very competitive but were taken out prematurely in the race. We will certainly be looking to run with the good guys and stay out of trouble this time around.”

GRAHAM AT POCONO RACEWAY

The ABC Supply 500 will be Rahal’s fourth race at Pocono Raceway.  In 2015, he started fifth and ran in the top-eight until a fueling problem on his second pit stop dropped him to 20th place. On Lap 66 of 200, he was in 16th place on a restart and got a run on Justin Wilson and pulled inside him on track. They were two-wide until Tristan Vautier decided to dive low inside, partially on the track, and make it three-wide. Vautier made contact with Rahal and spun the two into the wall.  Both were checked and released from the medical center.  The DNF in 20th place hindered his title bid after having entered the penultimate race in second place and only 9 points behind leader Montoya who finished third and increased his lead to 34 points entering the double-points season-finale in Sonoma. In 2014, he started 14th and moved into 11th on the opening lap but his helmet pad on the right side of the cockpit flew out of the car and he gradually dropped to 19th. The helmet pad helps the drivers head stay upright while sustaining high G-Forces for 200 laps and he was unable to see as well. Once he made his first stop and the team replaced the helmet pad he steadily climbed back up the field and ran 12th midway through the race and held the fastest lap of the race through his third stint. He was in 11th place when a problem surfaced on Lap 158/200. The car appeared to abruptly change and Rahal spun. The side of the car made contact with the Turn 2 wall and he ultimately retired in 19th place. In 2013 he qualified 17th, started 16th due to a grid penalty ahead and finished 18th.

 

KNOWEDGE GAINED FROM RECENT TESTS TO BE APPLIED TO ABC SUPPLY 500

Since the previous race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on July 31, the team has participated in three tests in three states.  Oval tests at Pocono on August 4 and Indianapolis Motor Speedway on August 8 were followed by a test on the Watkins Glen road course on August 11. Rahal believes the team found some areas of improvement that will help them be competitive this weekend.

“I think we found some good things from our test in Indy that we can possibly take back to Pocono. The car was well-balanced at our Pocono test but slower than we wanted so we have put our heads down and will try to do everything we can to find some speed before we return this weekend.”

 

RAHAL ON THE CHALLENGES OF THE POCONO TRACK AND A 500-MILE RACE HERE

“It’s a long race and, at Pocono in particular, it wears you down. It’s a tough track with tricky corners.  Five hundred miles feels like it takes a decade at Pocono!”
RAHAL AND THE POINT STANDINGS

The remaining races yet to be run in 2016 offer different challenges.  Pocono Raceway will feature a 500-mile race on a triangular 2.5-mile oval while the rescheduled round at Texas Motor Speedway will be run on the high-banked, 1.5-mile oval.  The final two races at Watkins Glen International and Sonoma Raceway will be run on permanent road courses and will account for a total of three races as Sonoma will pay double points for finishing positions. Rahal is hoping to close the season strong to increase his season-ending standing.  He is currently ranked ninth with a total of 324 and is only 33 points behind fifth place Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan (tied with 357) and 49 points behind third place Helio Castroneves.

“It’s always important to finish well, but we’re in the battle to get back into the top five in points so it’s very important to do this at Pocono and the rest of the season. We will be doing everything we can to get there, no doubt about that. It’s always tight and competitive in the IndyCar Series and I expect the same for the remainder of the year. It’s going to be tough, but we are looking forward to it.”