Graham and Bobby Rahal talk about father-son partnership

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This year’s Indianapolis 500 isn’t the first time IZOD IndyCar Series driver Graham Rahal has teamed up with his father, 1986 Indy winner Bobby Rahal, to take on “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” In 2010, Graham finished 12th for the Rahal Letterman Lanigan team at Indy.

But 2013 will mark the first “500” for Graham as a full-time driver for the family team, and both father and son believe that it was important for Graham to get experience driving for other squads before he “returned home,” so to speak.

“I think it was important for Graham as a person, you know, to go out and see what the rest of the world, how they go about it,” Bobby said on Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “He was very fortunate to be with great teams.”

Graham started his IZOD IndyCar Series career with Newman-Haas Racing, but when sponsorship couldn’t be found to keep him there, he was forced to drive for multiple squads in 2010 before landing at Chip Ganassi Racing for what would be a two-year run.

When his time with Ganassi came to a close, the second-generation racer decided this off-season that the competitive RLL team was now the right place for him.

“It was right to go out and be with the other operations that I drove for, but at the same time it’s best that we’re here,” Graham said. “I think for…everybody within this team, you have to look at what’s best for each and every one of us.

“As I talked to a lot of different teams last fall, it just became clearly apparent to me that this is where I wanted to be and this is where I needed to be to further my career, to have the success that I want to have, and the dedication to our program.”

Rahal has qualified this afternoon for the “500,” posting a four-lap average of 225.139 miles per hour in his No. 15 RLL Honda.

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.