After Four Top-Five Finishes Since His Win in the Previous 500-Mile Race Rahal Aims to Carry Momentum to Sunday’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
ABC Supply 500 – Pocono Raceway
Pre-Race Notes
Round 15 of 16 in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series

DATE: August 22-23, 2015

QUALIFYING BROADCAST: Saturday, August 22 at 2:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network; LIVE on (timing & scoring with audio commentary from INDYCAR Radio Network)
RACE BROADCAST: Live on Sunday, August 23 at 2:00 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: 2.5-mile tri oval
RACE LENGTH: 200 laps / 500 miles

2014 WINNER: Juan Pablo Montoya
2014 POLESITTER: Juan Pablo Montoya (2-lap avg. speed of 223.871 mph)

RAHAL’S BEST OVAL START/FINISH: Pole (Kansas 2009) / 1st (Fontana 2015)
RAHAL’S BEST POCONO START/FINISH: 14th in 2014 / 18th in 2013; two races

RLL’S BEST POCONO START/FINISH: 14th (started 13) / 12th – both by James Jakes in 2013

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

The 2015 ABC Supply 500 will mark the third open-wheel race at Pocono Raceway since 1989 as well as the third 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 (2013-2014) and James Jakes (2013) at this track and the No. 15 entry for Rahal will be the fourth for the team here.

With his win in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio on August 2, Rahal closed his deficit to series leader Juan Pablo Montoya from 42 points to 9 with two races to go and a total of 456 points to leader Montoya’s 465. Rahal is looking forward to the upcoming challenge.
“We’re in a good place and we’ve got momentum on our side for sure with four top-five’s in a row. It’s been a record breaking season for me so at this point I’m just going to go out there and try to have fun and do the best we can and hopefully everything will take care of itself. If we put ourselves in a good position and we’re smart throughout the race and weekend then hopefully we’ll be in a place where, come the end of it, we can go for it and go for a win.”

Rahal drove the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda to a fifth place finish in the Indy 500 then won the MAVTV 500 at Fontana. He is hoping for another strong result this weekend in the final 500-mile race this season – the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway — which he points out is a big race for the team for many reasons.
“Different aero packages were run at the other 500-mile races but I do think that we have learned a lot since we first ran the aero package on an oval and I think that lately we have been able to get some work done to close the gap even further to where we ultimately want to be. This is a big race for us from many different perspectives and starting up front is going to be very important, particularly if Pocono goes at it did last year where it was pretty green the entire race. I think we are starting to figure out the aero kit, we’re starting to get in a better place here and become a little more competitive. Hopefully this will be the next step and we will be able to show that this weekend.”

Rahal is 9 points behind Montoya in second place and is 25 points ahead of third place Scott Dixon (431), 49 points ahead of fourth place Helio Castroneves (437), and 50 ahead of fifth place Will Power (406). He knows that there are many drivers capable of a win this weekend. Especially those he is surrounded by in the championship standings.
“The contenders are the obvious ones: (Will) Power, Helio (Castroneves), (Scott) Dixon, myself and obviously (Juan Pablo) Montoya. I would expect (Marco) Andretti and the whole team (Andretti Autosport) to be good at Pocono so they are going to be tough as will the rest of the Ganassi cars too. There are a lot of good guys out there right now but the guys we are racing against in the standings really, like Dixon and Montoya, we have to stay close to those guys and they don’t have any weaknesses. Montoya won last year and I fully expect him to be pretty strong again.”

The ABC Supply 500 will be Rahal’s third race at this track. 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.

“I think the style of racing is going to be more like it was at Indy. I don’t see anybody going two wide anywhere around Pocono like at Indy but with the long straightaways it definitely gives you the opportunity to tow up on somebody and get by. It’s going to be fast like it was here last year but I would say it would be most similar to the conditions in Indy as far as performance and passing opportunities which is just like it was last year at Pocono. There will probably be a lot of green flag running so it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.”