Rahal Qualified Sixth for Saturday Night’s Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway

POLE: Will Power 2-lap avg. speed of 218.519 mph (L1: 23.9500, L2: 23.9910)
6th: Graham Rahal 2-lap avg. speed of 217.438 mph (L1: 24.0610, L2: 24.1182)

GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “Starting up towards the front with these boys is exactly where we need to be. Obviously points are a big focus for us right now. Tomorrow is going to be a tough race; everybody is going to have to manage their tires as well as they can. I feel like our race car is pretty good and I feel like track position is going to be pretty important here too. We’ll just keep working hard and keep our heads down and it will be just fine. For qualifying, the car was pretty loose. We ran more downforce and more drag than some people. Here it is a fine balance; it’s not just about taking off downforce and drag anymore. The car is a fine line about when you slid too much and we were pretty loose but that’s the way it goes. I’m just happy to have this car up there. I’m proud of this team. These guys have very worked hard. Obviously I’m a part of that but I really give all the credit to them because it’s a different organization and I’m very proud of them. This weekend is a big test for us. We weren’t very happy here last year and we’re just working as hard as we can to put ourselves in a good spot for the race.”

FAST FACTS: Will be his seventh event here and eighth race (two in 2011). He qualified 21st in 2014 and finished 12th. He qualified 19th in 2013 and started 17th after two cars ahead served 10-grid penalties for unapproved engine changes. He struggled with the handling of his race car and finished 21st. He set the fastest single lap in qualifying in 2012 but the grid is set based on a two-lap average and he qualified third in 2012. In the race, he led 27 laps but a slight brush of the wall with two laps to go forced him to settle for second place with Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR). He qualified 20th for the first of two heat races in 2011 and finished ninth with SCCGR. He drew the fourth starting spot for Race 2 in 2011 and finished 30th. He did not compete in Texas in 2010 during his partial season of competition. He qualified 12th with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) in 2009 but retired in 22nd place after contact. In 2008, he qualified 18th and finished 11th with NHLR… He is ranked fifth in series standings with a total of 246. He trails fourth place Helio Castroneves by four (250), third place Scott Dixon by six (252) and second place Will Power by 48 (294) after Round 8 of 16.

RLL AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY: The Firestone 600 will mark the 13th for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) at the 1.5-mile, high-banked Texas Motor Speedway oval. The team’s highest start of pole with Scott Sharp came in 2007 and highest finish of second came in 2005 with Vitor Meira. The team earned another front row start in 2004 when Buddy Rice qualified second. Prior to the 2015 event, the team prepared a total of 18 entries for drivers such as Kenny Brack (2003 x2), Buddy Rice (2004 x2; 2005, 2006), Vitor Meira (2004 x2; 2005), Danica Patrick (2005, 2006), Jeff Simmons (2007), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2008), Jay Howard (2011, Schmidt/RLL), Takuma Sato (2012) Graham Rahal (2013-2014) and James Jakes (2013). The team has earned three top-five finishes and six top-10’s at the track. The No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan entry for Graham Rahal will bring that total to 19 in 2015.

NEXT UP: There will be a 30-minute practice session from 6:45-7:15 p.m. CT tonight and the Firestone 600 will take the Green Flag at 7:50 p.m. CT Saturday. Live coverage will begin at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN.