Can RLL, Servia, stealthily strike at Indy again? (VIDEO)

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Both Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Oriol Servia tend to fly under the radar at Indianapolis all month.

Then on race day, with 20 laps to go, suddenly it seems an RLL car is in position to win and Servia’s running in the top five.

So add the two together and this year it should be perfect for Servia to pull the popular upset akin to what he nearly did at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis two weeks ago, right?

“That’s been what’s happened the last few years, but this time, I’d like to be at the front the whole time. Maybe I’ll change the pace,” Servia told MotorSportsTalk during Thursday’s IMS media day. “The 2011 year felt so good and was so much easier with only 2-3 cars ahead instead of 20.”

One other thing about 2011 – when Servia started third and finished sixth driving for Newman/Haas Racing – that was the last year Servia had an uninterrupted, not fragmented season where the Indy 500 was a transitional point of his year.

In 2012, he finished fourth in the ‘500 in his first race with a Chevrolet powerplant at Panther DRR after the team switched from the underpowered, woeful Lotus following the first four races. Last year, he ended 11th in what was just DRR’s temporary swan song.

“You know I promise you, it seems to always be my situation, but it doesn’t make it any easier,” said Servia, who said RLL is working on meetings with potential sponsors to add more races to his 2014 slate.

“You would think I get used to it – I don’t. All you can do is keep working at it for the results and hope that people want to jump in with us.”

Servia’s setup expertise is widely renowned in the paddock, through all the teams he has raced with. Finding the sweet spot is a challenge, but he’s optimistic they can do it.

“There’s a sweet spot this car has where all of a sudden it behaves a lot better,” he said. “When the field is so competitive as it is now, you need to be in the sweet spot or you don’t have a chance. It moves. Changes with temperature, things influence, ride height, things like this.”

Servia starts 18th and teammate Graham Rahal, in his first Indy 500 with National Guard sponsorship, 20th on Sunday. Rahal took time to preview Sunday’s race on Friday’s edition of The Dan Patrick Show on NBCSN:

If they match their past accolades, expect the two of them to lay low, then arrive in contention late in the running.

Brown: Dennis would have made same decision on McLaren-Honda split

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Zak Brown believes former McLaren team boss Ron Dennis would have made the same decision to cut ties with struggling Formula 1 engine partner Honda had he still been in charge at the team in 2017.

McLaren executive director Brown helped engineer a deal for the team to split with Honda at the end of the 2017 season after three tough seasons that had seen the Japanese manufacturer offer little in the way of performance or reliability.

The decision split opinion, with McLaren spurning a significant annual financial injection from Honda in order to link up with Renault, believing its on-track fortunes had to be prioritized over its commercial interests.

In an interview with Sky Sports, Brown was asked if he believed Dennis – McLaren’s long-running team chief before stepping down at the end of 2016 – would have made the same decision to cut ties with Honda.

“I think he would have,” Brown said.

“He was here when those conversations were ongoing and I think Ron always has and always will have the best interests of McLaren in his heart.

“He is Mr. McLaren. It burns him inside as much as us not to see us winning races.”

Brown also elaborated on the decision to break off the much-lauded relationship with Honda, saying the first signs of trouble with the 2017 power unit were clear in pre-season.

After a number of attempts to try and rectify the situation, Brown and his fellow team bosses felt there was no alternative but to end the Honda deal for 2018.

“We knew we were in trouble in testing in Barcelona and we worked really hard for six months to try and find solutions that would give us confidence that we’d be much more competitive in 2018,” Brown said.

“Ultimately, after trying many different things and many different ways we felt we couldn’t get there.

“Three years is a long time in Formula 1 and so we needed to change the direction to get our team back at the top.”