Graham Rahal Returns Home for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio – Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
Pre-Race Notes
Round 13 of 17 in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series

DATE: July 28-30, 2017

PRACTICE BROADCASTS: Live on Friday, July 28 at 10:00 a.m. ET and 2:15 p.m. ET on, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. And on Saturday at 9:55 a.m. and Sunday at 11:15 a.m.

QUALIFYING BROADCAST: Live on NBCSN on Saturday, July 29 at 2 p.m. ET; live on the Advance Auto Parts
INDYCAR Radio Network (AAPIRN), the INDYCAR 17 app and (timing & scoring + live analysis).

RACE BROADCAST: Live on CNBC beginning at 3 p.m. ET Sunday, July 30, the INDYCAR 17 app and (timing & scoring + live analysis). Encore on NBCSN at 7 p.m. ET

RADIO BROADCAST: Live on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius 212, XM 209 and

TRACK LAYOUT: 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course
RACE LENGTH: 90 laps / 203 miles

2016 WINNER: Simon Pagenaud
2016 POLESITTER: Simon Pagenaud (1:03.8700; 127.271 mph)

RAHAL’S HIGHEST SERIES START/FINISH: 3 Poles – St. Pete (street) 2009, Kansas (oval) 2009, Detroit (street) 2017 / 6 Wins – St.
Pete 2008, Fontana (oval; 500 miles) 2015, Mid-Ohio (road) 2015, Texas (oval) 2016; Detroit Race 1 2017, Detroit Race 2 2017

RAHAL’S BEST MID-OHIO START/FINISH: 4th in 2009 with NHLR / 1st in 2015 with RLLR; will be his 10th Indy car race here

RLLR’S BEST START/FINISH AT MID-OHIO Pole 1997 (Herta) / 1st 2015 (G. Rahal)


The 2017 Honda Indy 200 will mark the 20th Indy car event for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLLR) at Mid-Ohio Sports Car course, near the team’s Hilliard, Ohio base. The team also competed in the Atlantic Series race in 2003 with Danica Patrick and has competed in ALMS races here in 2007 and from 2009-2012. The team has one win (G. Rahal 2015), three podiums (3rd: B. Rahal 1997, 1998) and the highest start is pole (Herta 1997). Another front row start came in 1999 (Herta; 2nd). Prior to the 2017 event, the team prepared a total of 29 Indy car entries for drivers Bobby Rahal (1992-98), Mike Groff (1994), Raul Boesel (1995), Bryan Herta (1996-99), Max Papis (1999-2001), Jimmy Vasser (2002), Michel Jourdain Jr. (2002-03) Ryan Hunter-Reay (2007-2008), Takuma Sato (2012), James Jakes (2013) and Graham Rahal (2013-2016). The team has earned THREE podiums (1st – G. Rahal; 3rd – B. Rahal 1997, 1998), 12 top-five’s and 16 top-10 finishes at the track. The No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake entry for Graham Rahal will bring the Indy car total to 30 entries in 2017.

“It’s always great to go back to Mid-Ohio. I have a lot of fond memories, and have had a lot of great days there. Obviously winning there in 2015 really highlighted my career thus far. I’m excited to get back and hopefully see a great crowd once again. I know we will have a lot of support and I’m very appreciative of that. Hopefully we can have a great run in the Steak ‘n Shake Honda because we definitely need it at this point in the championship.”

The series has competed on three road courses to date this year – Barber Motorsports Park, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Road America. Rahal struggled in qualifying for the first two but progressed to the Firestone Fast Six at Road America and started sixth. The team has focused on improving the setup for a competitive runs at the three remaining road course events at Mid-Ohio, Watkins Glen International and Sonoma Raceway, a double points race.
“My hopes and expectations are high,” said Rahal. “We have struggled with our road course setup this year but at the same time I think we are capable of overcoming that. Our guys have put a lot of effort, a lot of time and mental energy into figuring out what we need going forward.”

The 2017 Honda Indy 200 will mark Rahal’s 10th Indy car race here. His best start is fourth in 2009 and his best finish is his win here in 2015. He has competed in many other series at his “home track.” In 2016, he started sixth and was passed by Montoya on the start when he experienced an over boost. Once that was adjusted, he settled into seventh place and made his first stop on Lap 17 during a caution for contact between Dixon and Castroneves. He returned to the race in 17th place while multiple fuel strategies were in play and the top three had yet to pit. He moved to 15th after Castroneves and Newgarden had issues and would have gained two spots but was passed by Kanaan and ran 15th. He was eighth when he made his second stop on Lap 40/90 and returned to the track in 14th place. After attrition took a few drivers out, Rahal ran 10th by Lap 51. He passed Pigot for ninth place on Lap 59 and made his final stop during the caution for Hawksworth on Lap 62. He returned to the track in 10th place and once the race was restarted, fifth place Kimball drove off track and Rahal moved into 9th. He was able to pass Kanaan on Lap 67 for eighth place and Ryan Hunter-Reay for seventh on Lap 77. Once race leader Daly made his out-of-sequence stop on Lap 84, Rahal moved into sixth. He closed on Bourdais to set up a possible pass but fifth place Bourdais attempted to pass fourth place Sato and the two collided and Rahal moved to fourth. He closed on third place Munoz but was unable to pass before the checkered flag. In 2015, he led a race-high 23 laps en route to victory with a 3.4-second margin over Justin Wilson. In 2014, he qualified seventh and avoided an opening lap, multi-car crash to take over fourth place. He maintained a top-five position throughout the race with the exception of pit cycles and ran as high as third at one point. An alternate strategy played out for eventual winner Scott Dixon who started 22nd and made four pit stops in comparison to the majority who made three. Rahal took the checkered flag in fifth place to better his previous best finish at this track of eighth place in 2009. In 2013, Rahal qualified 22nd, and ran as high as eighth on a three pit stop strategy but finished 18th after being held up by drivers on a two-stop strategy. In 2012 he qualified 22nd, started 21st (engine penalty ahead on grid) and finished 11th with Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR). In 2011 he qualified sixth, stalled in the pits after his first stop and finished 24th with SCCGR. In 2010, he qualified 25th with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) and had moved up to 14th when he attempted to pass Wheldon for 13th on Lap 61/85 in T2 and went off course and dropped to 21st. Finished 20th. In 2009, he started fourth with NHLR and looked likely to finish fourth before an off-track excursion while fifth late in the race led to an eighth place finish. In 2008, he started 14th with NHLR and ran as high as eighth, but an off track excursion on lap 53 limited him to a 16th place finish. At the age of 16 in 2005, he became the youngest to claim the SCCA National Formula Atlantic championship at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs here by a dominant 43-seconds. He also competed in the Star Mazda race here in 2005 (S/F 4/9) and tested a Grand Am car here in 2007.

With five races yet to be run this season, including the double-points-race at Sonoma, Rahal is tied for fifth in series point standings with a total of 359. He is 64 points behind leader Scott Dixon (423), 61 behind second place Helio Castroneves (420), 45 behind third place Simon Pagenaud (404), 41 behind fourth place Josef Newgarden (400), and tied with fifth place Will Power (359). After qualifying second in the previous race in Toronto, expectations were high for a podium finish that would close the points gap. Unfortunately the timing of a full course caution while Rahal was third shuffled the field and allowed previous fourth place runner Josef Newgarden, who jumped into the pits before it closed, to cycle to the front and he eventually won while Rahal finished ninth.

“It’s important to have a good result at Mid-Ohio. I’m frustrated after Toronto. We deserved better than that. Our car was better than that, our team was better than that so it was obviously disappointing to get the result that we did. Hopefully we can turn that around and have a really, really strong run at Mid-Ohio.”

Due to qualifying second in Toronto, Rahal earned a coveted spot close to pit out for the Honda Indy 200. With the competition as close as it is in the Verizon IndyCar Series, every advantage helps so Rahal is happy to be pitting in the second box.

“Our pit position in Mid-Ohio, based on qualifying second in Toronto, is going to be great. It’s flat so that is going to help us a lot. Obviously you want to be pitted with the good guys. You want to be right down there where the fast guys and championship contenders are and we’re right there with them.”

Prior to the team’s home race, Bobby and Graham Rahal will make a special visit to Nationwide Children’s Hospital on Thursday, July 27. The father and son duo will visit patients and families on site. Additionally, Graham Rahal’s No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Indy show car will be on display. Nationwide Children’s Hospital holds a special place in both Bobby and Graham’s hearts as both have been involved with various events over the years while living in New Albany. The Bobby Rahal Foundation has donated more than $1 million to the hospital. Their support dates back to 1990 and was provided from the proceeds of an annual golf event that Bobby hosted. After that, Graham will participate in the third annual “Meet and Eat” at Steak ‘n Shake (4047 Morse Crossing, Columbus) from 5-7 p.m. ET while Bobby will host the Rally for the Ranch (more information below). At the track, Graham will participate in three autograph sessions (one closed for Honda employees), a media availability, Facebook live chat on Honda’s page, the annual judging of Honda Camping campsites and another special fan interaction to be announced in addition to his regular team commitments.

Tony Kanaan will be honored at the 6th Annual Safelite AutoGlass “Rally for The Ranch,” a three-event extravaganza to be held July 27-30. The event is supported by The Bobby Rahal Foundation and benefits The Buckeye Ranch and its programs that help area youths and their families dealing with mental, behavioral and substance abuse issues. Previous honorees include Johnny Rutherford (2012), Al Unser, Jr. (2013), Rick Mears (2014), Bobby Unser (2015) and Dario Franchitti (2016).

Honda Racing will host activities for all race fans during the Mid-Ohio weekend with the return of the annual #CampingwithHonda initiative. Following the success of last year’s “Christmas in July” theme, this year Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will combine the thrill of racing with “galactic”-themed entertainment with the slogan “May the G-Force Be With You.” A community bonfire will take place on Saturday night with s’mores and live music provided by Columbus’ premier party band “MidLife Crisis.” For campers, there will be a tent and motor home decorating contest with Graham Rahal judging the best campsite following qualifying on Saturday.

“It’s just fun to go out and be with the fans. You see stuff that is all over the board and everyone looks like they are having a great time. It’s always a blast to go out to the campsites and spend some time with the fans.”