Rahal Confident Heading into Iowa Corn 300 After Being A Front Runner at Last Week’s Test

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing logo

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Iowa Corn 300 – Iowa Speedway

Pre-Race Notes

Round 11 of 16 in the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series


DATE:  July 9-10, 2016

QUALIFYING BROADCAST:  Live on NBCSN beginning at 3 p.m. ET Saturday, July 9; live on the INDYCAR16 app, INDYCAR Radio Network and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring)

RACE BROADCAST: Live on NBCSN beginning at 5 p.m. ET Sunday, July 10

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

TRACK LAYOUT:   0.894-mile oval

RACE LENGTH:  300 laps / 268.2 miles

2015 WINNER:  Ryan Hunter-Reay

2015 POLESITTER:  Helio Castroneves (2-lap avg. speed 35.0817 seconds, 183.480 mph)


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

RAHAL’S BEST START/FINISH AT IOWA:   6th in 2013 / 4th in 2015

RLL’S TOP START/ FINISH AT IOWA:  4th / 3rd – both in 2007 by Scott Sharp




The Iowa Corn Indy 300 will mark the seventh event for Rahal Letterman Lanigan (RLL) Racing at Iowa Speedway.  The best finish for the team is third in 2007 by Scott Sharp who also earned the top start for the team of fourth the same year.  Prior to the 2016 event, the team prepared a total of eight entries for drivers Scott Sharp (2007), Jeff Simmons (2007), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2008), Takuma Sato (2012) Graham Rahal (2013-2015) and James Jakes (2013). The team has earned one podium (3rd, Sharp 2007) and five, top-10 finishes at the track.  The No. 15 entry for Graham Rahal will bring that total to nine in 2016.


Rahal earned his best finish at Iowa Speedway of fourth place last year despite dropping a total of three laps down during the race.  He started 17th and was 10th when he had to pit early due to his right rear tire deflating and went two laps down to the leader. Later he got back on the lead lap and reported a shifting issue on Lap 98/300 that slowed his return to the track from his second pit stop after having to reboot and he dropped a lap down again. Later in the race, the team took advantage of a caution period to pit for fuel and new tires which would enable them to go further than the leaders on the next stint and possibly pick up a yellow that would put them back on the lead lap. While leading and with five laps to go before they were forced to pit for their last stop, Sato brought out a caution period and the team stopped for fuel and tires. Due to the reoccurring shifting issue, he had to leave the pits in sixth gear rather than first and returned to the track in eight place, and on the lead lap. The race restarted with 23 laps to go and Rahal moved from eighth place into fourth by Lap 294/300. He held his position and finished fourth but he and the team felt like they had earned a victory of sorts.

“Everything that could have gone wrong last year at Iowa went wrong it seemed.  To rebound and come out of the race with a top four felt greater than a victory and actually probably had a greater effect on our championship than anything else just due to the morale that was built during that night. It was frustrating because I think we had a car that could have won but we were just stuck in sixth gear, pounding around. It was great to get a good result.”


The 2016 Iowa Corn Indy 300 will be Graham Rahal’s ninth race here.  He has earned six top-10 finishes in eight starts with his best being fourth in 2015.  After multiple challenges (listed above) that caused him to drop a combined total of three laps down to the leader, he and the team never gave up.  He got back on the lead lap two times and charged to a fourth place finish after starting 17th.  In 2014, he started 15th and stayed on the lead lap with the help of the timing of the caution periods. He made his sixth stop on a late race caution period for Montoya and returned to the track in 10th place. Once the race was restarted with six laps to go he moved up to eighth place and passed Castroneves on the final lap for seventh. He set the 19th fastest lap time in single-car qualifying in 2013 to determine that he would be in Heat Race 2. He drove to victory in Heat Race 2 after starting seventh and progressed to Heat Race 3 where he also started seventh. Contact with Ed Carpenter on Lap 16 of 50 damaged his front wing and he held on to finish ninth of 10 cars to match his best start at Iowa of ninth.  He started sixth after engine penalties were served and charged from 10th to second on his second stint. He challenged for the win and led Lap 160 until the last 20 laps where he dropped to fourth while navigating traffic and then fifth on the final lap.  In 2012 he qualified 10th, started 20th (penalty for unapproved engine change) and finished ninth with Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR). In 2011 he qualified 20th and finished 15th with SCCGR. In 2010, he qualified 17th with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, led 11 laps and finished ninth. In 2009 he qualified ninth and finished 11th with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) and in 2008 he qualified 16th and finished 10th with NHLR.


After being one of the frontrunners during the recent test at Iowa Speedway on Wednesday, June 29, Rahal is optimistic that the team will be a contender this weekend.

“I think we will be very competitive at Iowa. As a team, we have been pretty good at Iowa the past couple of years. It’s been one of our strong points and we just had a good test there. Honda worked very hard on their engine and aerodynamic package to get a more efficient car at this downforce level so we should be pretty good.”


“So far I think the season has gone reasonably well and we have a little bit of momentum. I think we’re headed in the right direction and I feel good about where we are as a team. Would I have liked to see better results? What driver or team doesn’t? But if you look at the top five’s we’ve had this season, it’s been pretty strong. We got punted out of one, had a brake issue in another one that I thought we could have been a contender in and have faced other challenges but I feel good about where we are right now and I hope we can keep this going and move forward in the championship.”


With six races to go this season, Rahal is ranked eighth in series point standings with a total of 261. He is only 22 points behind fifth place Josef Newgarden (283) and 40 behind second place Helio Castroneves (301). Series leader Simon Pagenaud has 375 points.

“Pagenaud has taken off with this thing to a certain extent but I do think that others can catch him though. If I look at the rest of the competitors and contenders, I believe we are right in the hunt with them. We have had many things go wrong this year as much as we’ve had go right but there are six races left, one with double points, so the battle is heating up right now. We are going to fight for every piece of the road and see if we can get ourselves in the top three at season’s end.”