Rahal and Servia Head to Detroit in Search of a Their Third and Second Motor City Indy Car Podiums

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Pre-Race Notes
Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix – The Raceway at Belle Isle Park
Round 7 and 8 of 17 in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series

DATE: June 2–4, 2017

QUALIFYING BROADCAST: Live on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network (AAPIRN), the INDYCAR 17 app
and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + live analysis) from 10:05-10:35 a.m. ET on Saturday and 10:45-11:15 a.m. ET Sunday.

RACE BROADCAST: Live on Saturday, June 3 and Sunday, June 4 – both at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC

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

TRACK LAYOUT: 2.35-mile, 13-turn temporary street course
RACE LENGTH: 70 laps / 164.5 miles (each race)
2016 WINNER(S): Sebastien Bourdais (Dual 1) and Will Power (Dual 2)
2016 POLESITTER(S): Simon Pagenaud (112.926; Dual 1) and Simon Pagenaud (, rain; Dual 2)

RAHAL’S HIGHEST SERIES START/FINISH: Pole at St. Pete 2009 (street) & Kansas 2009 (oval) / 1st in St. Pete in 2008, Fontana 2015 (super
speedway), Mid-Ohio 2015 (road)
RAHAL’S BEST DETROIT START/FINISH: 6th in 2008 with NHLR / 2nd in Dual 1 in 2014 and 3rd in Dual 2 in 2015; will be his 9th & 10th
starts here

SERVIA’S BEST INDY CAR START/FINISH: Pole at Surfers Paradise (street) in 2005 / 1st at Montreal (road) in 2005 – both with NHR

SERVIA’S BEST DETROIT START/FINISH: 3rd in 2008 with KVRT / 3rd in 2000 in rookie season; will be his 5th & 6th Indy car starts here;
also competed in two Indy Lights races here where he won pole and finished second in 1999.

RLL’S BEST START/FINISH AT DETROIT: 2nd – Bobby Rahal (1992) & Jakes (2013) / 1st – Bobby Rahal (1992 inaugural Belle Isle event)


The 2017 Chevrolet Indy Duel in Detroit will mark the Verizon IndyCar Series’ eighth visit to Detroit, and it’s sixth since 2008. The Motor City hosted Indy car racing from 1989-91 in Downtown Detroit. The race moved to Belle Isle Park from 1992-2001 and 2007-2008 and returned in 2012. The 2017 event will mark the 18th year for Rahal Letterman Lanigan (RLL) Racing to compete at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park and the team’s 22nd and 23rd races.

The team’s highest start of second place came in the inaugural running on Belle Isle in 1992 by Bobby Rahal and in 2013 by James Jakes in Dual 2. Bobby Rahal brought the team its highest finish with a win in 1992, Jakes added a third podium for the team in 2013 with his second place finish and Graham Rahal added a fourth and fifth podium with his second place finish in Dual 1 in 2014 and third place finish in Dual 2 in 2015. In total, the team has earned five podiums (2nd – G. Rahal 2014, Jakes 2013 & Max Papis 2000), (3rd – G. Rahal 2015) six top-five finishes and 14 top-10’s here (chart available). Prior to 2017, the team prepared a total of 26 entries for drivers such as Bobby Rahal (1992-1998), Mike Groff (1993-94), Raul Boesel (1995), Bryan Herta (1996-99), Max Papis (1999-2001), Kenny Brack (2000-01), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2007-08) Takuma Sato (2012), Graham Rahal (2013-2016) and James Jakes (2013). The No. 15 SoldierStrong / TurnsforTroops.com Honda entry for Graham Rahal and the No. 16 Fifth Third Bank Honda for Oriol Servia will bring that total to 28 in 2017.

The event will mark Graham Rahal’s 11th and 12th races here. In his previous 10 races here, his best finishes have come in 2014 with second place in Dual 1 and third place in Dual 2 in 2015. In 2016, he started 10th in Dual 1 and passed Power, Kimball and Dixon for seventh place on the opening lap. He was sixth when Kanaan pit right before his first stop on Lap 4. Many pitted early to change to the more durable primary tires. Through great driving and strategy, Rahal was up to fourth place by Lap 24 of 70 and held the position four laps before his second pit stop on Lap 28. When Hinchcliffe crashed on Lap 42 just ahead of Rahal, many took advantage of the caution to pit and Rahal restarted the race in second place. The caution was longer than expected due to the series attempting to determine what to do with Power’s car that was on three wheels and this impacted the team strategy as Rahal now had a shorter amount of laps to run with clear track. On the restart, he was able to hold off Dixon and maintain second place for a total of eight laps. After he made his third and final stop from second place on Lap 52/70, he returned to the track in 10th place as others had yet to stop. Track position was key to the outcome as Rahal was held up in a pack of cars behind Munoz, who must have been saving fuel, and then later Pagenaud and Castroneves. Once he got around them and was fourth, he tried to close on the leaders, which he did but it was not enough to attempt to gain a position and he finished fourth. In Dual 2, he qualified seventh but while he was on track for the pace laps, an issue with his brakes surfaced so he pitted and the team checked the car. As the field took the green, a multi-car accident happened and the caution flag came out. Rahal was sent back on track and stayed out until the pits opened then returned to the pits so the team could bleed the brakes. He returned to the track after the issue was fixed and had to catch up to the field but was able to stay on the lead lap due to the caution. Alternate strategy played out until he was running fifth as others cycled through their final stops. The team called him into the pits but before he could get to the entry, a caution flag was brought out on Lap 50/70 for Hawksworth’s crash and the pits were closed thus negating him to take advantage of the strategy that had worked out thus far. Only four cars had yet to pit, including Rahal who was now third behind Bourdais and Kimball. He held the position through the restart and went on to take the lead on Lap 59/70 before he pitted for a splash of fuel only and ultimately finished 11th… In 2015, he started 13th in Detroit Race 1 but was in 15th place on a wet track on a Lap 6 restart. The field entered Turn 1 and Coletti attempted an ambitious three-wide pass but contact with Jakes pushed Jakes into Kanaan who bounced off the tires and into Rahal’s path. Right-side front suspension damage forced him to retire in 23rd place. Standing water cancelled qualifying for Race 2 and the grid was set by entrant points so Rahal started fifth. He lost positions to Newgarden, Munoz and Bourdais in the opening laps but regained seventh when Munoz had mechanical problems. After the first cycle of stops concluded he regained seventh place and moved to sixth when Power pit to change his steering wheel. He came out eight from his second stop as those who took over the top three didn’t pit. On a restart, he lost a position to Castroneves but later gained it back by passing Newgarden when Castroneves did. He moved to sixth once Hunter-Reay made his out-of-sequence stop. Sato attempted a pass on Lap 48 but Rahal was able to stay ahead. Dixon, who was on rain tires while the majority of the field were on slicks, held up a pack of cars until Rahal and others were able to pass him. He moved into fourth when Power also pit. He lost traction on the exit of Turn 11 and made his one move to the outside in front of Sato but the series deemed it blocking and he had to give up a position during the caution for Dixon and Kimball. On the restart, he passed Montoya for third. Fuel was tight for race leader Bourdais and a 10 minute red flag to clear debris from contact between teammates Power and Castroneves deemed the race a timed event once it resumed. Once it was restarted, Rahal closed on Sato but was unable to pass and finished third to Sato and Bourdais who was able to stretch his fuel in the shortened race and win… In 2014 he qualified 9th for Dual 1 in Detroit, led 10 laps, challenged for the win and finished second. He started 14th in Dual 2 after the team elected to qualify on primary tires to save a set of red alternate tires for the race – a strategy that didn’t pay off. On the opening lap, Power, who was later penalized with a drive through penalty for avoidable contact, squeezed Newgarden in Turn 4 and the two made contact. Rahal was behind the two and had nowhere to go and hit Newgarden before Wilson ran into the rear of the No. 15 entry which resulted in gear problems. By the time the team replaced the front nose and repaired the gear sensor, he returned to the track seven laps down. He ultimately retired in 21st place after he brushed the wall and damaged his suspension after completing 43 of 70 laps… He qualified 14th for Dual 1 in Detroit in 2013 but started 23rd due to an unapproved engine change at Indy. He gained three spots on the opening lap and another two on the first restart on Lap 4. The team elected for an alternate strategy and the timing of the caution flags worked in the team’s favor and Rahal was able to climb 14 spots to finish ninth. He qualified 15th for Dual 2 in Detroit and finished ninth… In 2012, he qualified seventh with Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing but had a 10-grid penalty for an unapproved engine change and started 17th. He was eighth when he made his final stop on Lap 45/60 but during the red flag stop to repair the track, a clutch problem surfaced and he was unable to continue and retired in 19th place. In 2008 he drove for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing and progressed to the Firestone Fast Six in qualifying for the first time in his series career and qualified sixth. The team chose the same pit strategy as then race leader Dixon which almost worked but a late race fourth caution botched the plan and he had to stop for a splash of fuel with three laps to go and dropped to 13th.
“We had a decent race going for both of the races last year. After finishing fourth in the first one, unfortunately the brake line came loose before the start in the second one. We had a decent starting position and had a good car actually but went to the back because of the brake line and had to recover from that. Overall I feel like we should be very competitive going back. We had podium finishes in 2014 and 2015 so hopefully we can get it done and get more trophies. It hasn’t always come easy to us there but it’s one of those tracks that a lot can happen in the races there. You get a lot of variation between good qualifying cars and good race cars. A lot of good guys can beat up the tires there. Hopefully we can go out there, have a good, consistent car, wear them down and get good results for United Rentals and SoldierStrong.

The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix doubleheaders will be Servia’s fifth and sixth Indy car starts here and his return to the track for the first time since 2012. In four Indy Car races, his best start is third in 2008 with KVRT and best finish is third in 2000 with PPI, which was his first career podium finish. In four Indy car starts, he has a third (2000, PPI), fourth (2008, KVRT), fifth (2012, Panther/DRR) and sixth (2001, Sigma) place finish. He also competed in two Indy Lights races here in 1998 and 1999 for Dorricott Racing where his best start – pole — and best finish of second place came in 1999. He has fond memories of his first podium celebration.
“I got my first Indy car podium in my rookie year at Detroit and since then I have finished in the top six each time I raced there so I hope to continue that at the two races this weekend and get a good result for Fifth Third Bank in their first time as a primary sponsor on an Indy car. Hopefully we get a little revenge from this past weekend in Indy. I thought we had a great run and would at least challenge for the win and be a top-three car for sure but we couldn’t finish that way. This weekend we have two chances to get that revenge and hopefully we get two podiums – one of which is a win at least, which is what I feel the whole team deserves. We’re going to work hard. It’s a short weekend with only one day of practice so hopefully it stays dry so I can get as many miles as possible.

“I remember a couple of things about my first podium. First of all I remember it was a great race and that I was very happy because it was my first podium. But I remember more about the people I was with at the podium. Finishing second was Max Papis, who looked me in the eye and said ‘Oriol, you got your first podium very early in your Indy car career and you think they are going to come easy, but it’s not that easy.’ And he was right, it’s tough. And also it was Helio’s first win and the first time he climbed the fence so I witnessed his first act as Spiderman. That was something for the history books.”

Coming on the heels of a hectic three weeks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, first for the INDYCAR Grand Prix and then the Indy 500, Graham and Oriol know the physical demands of not one, but two street races within the same amount of days.
“Everyone is tired,” Rahal said about the post-race physical state after Dual 1. “Saturday night is a brutal night. You’ve just done one race and you have to get in shape and get hydrated to go do the second. No matter whether you are big or small, it’s a physical race that beats you up. There are a lot of bumps, bruises and blood; it’s going to be another one of those weekends. You expect it and anticipate it. It’s kind of nice to get to the street course in Detroit after being at Indy and on the oval for so long. It’s a great way to get a reset and do it immediately versus waiting any set period of time before going racing again. Particularly if Indy doesn’t go your way, it’s a good way to be able to move on pretty quick.”
“I have been preparing for the physical aspect of a street race which I didn’t the past two times I raced on a road or street course because I didn’t have a lot of notice (Sonoma 2015, St. Pete 2016),” added Servia, whose last doubleheader was in Houston in 2013. “I had a lot of notice for this race and I worked hard to be in very good shape but at the end of the day, any Indy car street race is tough and this will be two so I’m sure I will be pretty beat up but I hope I am just a little less beat up than the others.”

“The American red, white, and blue United Rentals Turns for Troops car is one of my favorite liveries and I’m happy to have it back in Detroit. It’s beautiful and pulls at everyone’s heart strings. With the laps completed program and shirts we have for sale, it’s a great cause. I’m proud to be part of it and excited to see the car on track again. I want to thank Chris Hummel and everyone at United Rentals for allowing us to run it again and for being such a great, unselfish partner to our team. It’s really bringing light to an important situation and I’m happy to help raise money for SoldierStrong.”