Rahal Ready for Upcoming Trio of Oval Races Starting with Saturday’s MAVTV 500

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
MAVTV 500 – Auto Club Speedway
Pre-Race Notes
Round 11 of 16 in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series
DATE: June 26-27, 2015

QUALIFYING BROADCAST: Tape delayed on NBCSN on Saturday, June 27 at 12 a.m. ET and live on www.indycar.com
(timing & scoring w/radio commentary)
RACE BROADCAST: Live on Saturday, June 27 at 4:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN
RADIO BROADCAST: The race will air on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius 212, XM 209 and

TRACK LAYOUT: 2-mile superspeedway
RACE LENGTH: 250 laps / 500 miles

2014 WINNER: Tony Kanaan
2014 POLESITTER: Helio Castroneves (2-lap avg. speed of 218.540 mph)

RAHAL’S BEST OVAL START/FINISH: Pole (Kansas 2009) / 2nd (Texas 2012 and Milwaukee 2011)
RAHAL’S BEST FONTANA START/FINISH: 10th (2014) / 6th (2012); will be his fourth race here

RLL’S TOP START/FINISH AT AC SPEEDWAY: 2nd – Max Papis 1999 & Kenny Brack 2003 / 1st – Jimmy Vasser 2002


The 2015 MAVTV 500 will mark the 14th IndyCar race for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) here. The team was entered in seven CART/Champ Car races from 1997-2003 but the 2003 event was cancelled due to wildfires. In total, the team competed in six CART/Champ Car races (all scheduled as 500-mile races; five run as such) and seven Indy Racing League/IndyCar Series events (2002-2005, 2012-2014). The team won ONE RACE (Jimmy Vasser 2002), made TWO front row starts (2nd: Max Papis 1999, Kenny Brack 2003), earned FOUR podiums (2nd – Papis 1999 & 2001; 3rd – Vitor Meira 2005), and led 407 laps (chart available). The team entered cars for Bobby Rahal (1997-1998), Bryan Herta (1997-1999), Max Papis (1999-2001), Kenny Brack (2000-2001, 2003), Jimmy Vasser (2002 – both CCWS & IRL), Michel Jourdain (2002-2003), Buddy Rice (2004-2005), Vitor Meira (2004-2005), Danica Patrick (2005), Takuma Sato (2012), Graham Rahal (2013-2014) and James Jakes (2013). The No. 15 Mi-Jack entry for Graham Rahal will bring that total to 24 Indy car entries in this race.

Six races remain in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season, four of which are on oval tracks. Rahal is ranked fifth in series point standings with a total of 283. He trails fourth place Helio Castroneves by 39 (322), third place Scott Dixon by 46 points (329), and second place Will Power by 66 (349) after Round 10 of 16. Rahal hopes to close the gap to the frontrunners with a good finish Saturday.
“We have some big races coming up obviously. There are three oval races in a row and it’s big for us from the point-standing perspective because we’re in the thick of this thing. Ovals haven’t been our strong point up to now but we’re really trying to turn it around and get some good runs in the next few races. And these three ovals races are completely different. We have a 500-miler at Fontana, then one on a flat oval in Milwaukee and a flat, short, high-banked oval in Iowa and you run different wing packages so they are each different. From a mindset standpoint, all oval races are very similar though. Five-hundred mile races are a little different due to the length but they are all very similar in the way that you approach them.”

The MAVTV 500 will be the third oval race of season and first of three in a row. Following the 500-mile event on the two-mile superspeedway, the series will race at the 1-mile flat Milwaukee Mile July 11-12 and then at the 0.894-mile variably-banked Iowa Speedway. Rahal was the top-finishing Honda with fifth place at the Indy 500 and hoped for a strong result at Texas after qualifying sixth and setting the second fastest time in the final practice session but struggled in the race and finished 15th. The team learned from that and plans to put that knowledge to use this weekend.
“The experience we gained on the ovals in Indy and Texas should help us a lot on the setup and with knowledge of the aerodynamics of the car and what we need to be to be competitive at Auto Club Speedway,” said Rahal. “All in all there are a lot of positives that came from what we learned and also from mistakes we made like the downforce level we decided to run in the race at Texas. We just have to keep learning from things like that and I can guarantee we won’t do it this time around. We certainly hope to be very competitive at Fontana. We have proven to be a contender all year and we need to just keep going down that path and putting ourselves in a position to win. Obviously it’s not going to be easy as we’ve seen all season but I certainly hope we can get ourselves into a position where we can contend with all those frontrunners and, if nothing else stay fifth in the championship which is the key at this point. We’ve got some good guys behind us but I feel like they are guys that we can beat.”

The MAV TV 500 will be Graham’s fourth Indy car race here. Last year, Rahal qualified 10th and finished 19th. In 2013, he qualified 18th but started 22nd after grid penalties were assessed. He was in 14th place, one lap down to the leaders, when a mechanical failure ended his race and he ultimately finished 15th. He qualified 11th in 2012 with Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR), started 18th after a penalty for an unapproved engine change and finished sixth. With the 2015 event moving to the heart of summer and taking place in early afternoon rather than dusk, Rahal knows that it will be physically demanding.
“Living near the Fontana track, I think the biggest thing is going to be the heat. It’s going to be very hot that time of day and I’m fine with that and am ready to go racing and do the best we can. But it will certainly be important to stay hydrated, stay focused and stay out of trouble. Those things will be key.”

After 10 consecutive weekends of action, the team had a much needed weekend off but is ready to get back on track at Auto Club Speedway.
“For the guys, it was key for them to get this time off to spend with family and friends and unwind after a busy stretch. They were able to get away from racing a little bit and catch their breaths. Racing is a great sport but it demands the most from you at all times and I think it was really good for our guys to get away for a while in order to come back stronger.”