Photo courtesy IMSA

How octogenarian Roger Penske taught Graham, Bobby Rahal valuable lesson at Rolex 24

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Graham Rahal has learned almost everything he knows about IndyCar racing from his father, team owner and former three-time open-wheel champ Bobby Rahal.

But the younger Rahal – and the elder Rahal to an extent, as well – learned some very valuable lessons at this past weekend’s Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.

And the person they learned them from was none other than the winningest team owner in IndyCar history, Roger Penske.

But the lessons weren’t necessarily about what was on the racetrack, but how Penske was able to remain awake – and more importantly – alert during the entire 24 hours of the Rolex.

With just a couple of breaks for the call of nature, Penske didn’t sleep or nod off or even try to catch a quick 10-minute cat nap. He was on top of the pit box, constantly discussing strategy for his two sports car teams, which were making their debut in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition.

Somehow, Penske remained pretty much bright-eyed and bushy-tailed from the start of the race at 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday until the checkered flag 24 hours later on Sunday.

After the race was over, Penske continued to be like the Energizer Bunny, promptly leaving Daytona for a business trip to Europe. He’s someone we all could learn from on how to pace ourselves.

And also don’t forget that Penske is 80 years old (turns 81 on Feb. 20).

“As I said to my dad, I thought the more impressive thing was I got an email (from Penske) the next morning, apologizing that he didn’t see me after the race because he had to get to Ireland for a breakfast meeting, and then he was in Germany for a lunch meeting,” Graham Rahal said.

“That’s what’s more impressive than anything else. The guy (Penske), he’s a machine. He doesn’t stop. … For a young guy, there’s a lot (to learn from someone like Penske), for anybody.

“But for young people, there’s a lot to be learned from that mindset and that work ethic.”

Bobby Rahal tried to make it to 24 hours, but eventually had to give in and grab about 90 minutes of sleep in the middle of the night.

“No, I didn’t make it all 24 like Roger, but I gave it a good try,” Rahal said with a chuckle.

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.