RHR advances to 2nd Round in Miller Lite Pit Stop Challenge Friday
SPEEDWAY, IN (May 26, 2023) – Taking his first competitive laps in the No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold/Cusick Motorsports/CareKeepers Chevrolet, veteran Graham Rahal, entered in his 16th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, moved quickly through the learning curve with a new team, new crew, new car and new engine in Friday’s legendary “Carb Day” practice session in preparation for Sunday’s 107th Indy 500.
Rahal, 34, was bumped from the 33-car field Sunday in his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda machine, but was named to replace the injured Stefan Wilson, who was hurt in a Monday afternoon practice crash. After a installation run Thursday afternoon at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the New Albany, Ohio racer jumped in the new mount and put in 77 laps during the two-hour final practice run before a huge sun-drenched crowd.
With team owner Dennis Reinbold on the radio to his new driver, Rahal made a variety of progressions with his new car and team and secured a best speed of 223.491 miles per hour as he tested the new No. 24 in traffic conditions which he will face Sunday from the 33rd starting position. Graham is no stranger to impressive charges at IMS after coming from 29th to third in 2011 at the Indy 500.
“It was a really solid day in the No. 24 DRR/Cusick Motorsports/CareKeepers machine for Carb Day,” said Rahal. “For the first outing with the car, you have to be conservative with the new chassis. There are a lot of new things for me here with the team, crew, car and engine. These guys are pros and they have done a great job to get the car ready for me.
“We were able to turn up the heat in the second outing. And ultimately it felt really good. We made some really good changes with the car today. I think we ran more downforce than other teams, so you don’t see the outright speed on the charts. Ryan (Hunter-Reay, Rahal’s teammate) and I had similar feelings about our cars. I’m excited about our chances here on Sunday.”
Reinbold was pleased with Rahal’s practice runs in “Carb Day” with the new No. 24 mount.
“We just wanted Graham to get accustomed to our car, engine and the crew today,” said Reinbold, whose team has field 48 cars in the Indy 500 dating back to 2000. “He did an excellent job working with the car and the crew. Everything is new to him. He has never driven a Chevrolet engine previously, and he did a great job in the Pit Stop Challenge too. We almost beat Will Power’s team in the first round. It was close. Graham is a real pro, and he has worked well with Ryan also this week.”
Hunter-Reay, the 2014 Indy 500 champion, will start 18th in Sunday’s 200-lap classic in the No. 23 ROOT Insurance/DreyerReinbold.com Chevrolet and ran a handful of laps Friday before a gearbox seal leak ended his practice runs.
Despite the early exit of the two-hour practice, Hunter-Reay posted a 224.519 m.p.h. lap while running in traffic in the morning portion of the final on-track activity. That lap moved Ryan into the top-ten.
“Unfortunately, we had a minimal gearbox leak and IndyCar officials sidelined us for it,” said Hunter-Reay, who won the 2012 NTT IndyCar Series title with a Chevrolet-powered car. “Aside from that, I was pretty happy with our race car. We were doing different fuel tests, saving fuel and tuning the balance of the car. But we did miss a valuable hour of practice today that we needed. I would have liked to have finish the session, but I feel good about the car we ran today.”
In the popular Miller Lite Pit Stop Challenge, Hunter-Reay and his crew advanced to the second round with an impressive win over the McLaren team with driver Pato O’Ward. Power’s crew defeated the No. 23 DRR team in the second round. Power went on to finish runner-up to Scott Dixon in the final.
Rahal and his No. 24 crew turned in the third quickest pit stop time in the opening round Friday, but the squad lost to Power’s team.
NBC live television coverage of the 107th Indianapolis 500 will begin at 11 a.m. EDT with the green flag scheduled to drop at 12:45 p.m. EDT.