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.

Supercross: Haiden Deegan debuts in 250s at Houston, Justin Cooper graduates to 450 class for Star Yamaha

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Rising star Haiden Deegan will make his Monster Energy Supercross debut in Houston, Texas with Yamaha Star Racing while the 2021 250 West champion Justin Cooper graduates to 450s.

Deegan, the son of motocross and off-road legend Brian Deegan and brother of NASCAR Truck Series driver Hailie Deegan, made two starts in the Pro Motocross outdoors season last year. He finished 31st overall at the Ironman Nationals in Crawfordsville, Indiana and was 13th at Fox Raceway in the season-ender at Fox Raceway in Pala, California, but the overall results did not necessarily reflect how well he ran. In both events, he challenged for top-10s during portions of the week and actually finished 10th in one of the Pala motos.

Last week, Haiden finished fifth in the Supercross 250 Futures in Anaheim 2.

“We’re really excited to get the season on the East Coast started,” said Monster Energy Team Manager Jensen Hendler in a press release. “It’s also exciting to have Haiden move up to join our pro program this season and to have Justin make his debut on the 450. The guys have been working hard and are looking forward to seeing what they can do this weekend in Houston.”

After scoring a 250SX Futures podium, Talon Hawkins gets 250 East ride.

Deegan will join Nate Thrasher and Jordon Smith in the 250 East division this week.

Cooper moves into the 450 class this weekend. According to Supercross rules, after winning the 2021 championship, he had one season to defend his title and then would be required to move up a class. Cooper missed all of last year to injury.

Cooper was healthy when the outdoor season started and he earned five podiums and nine top-fives in 12 rounds. Three of these races ended in runners-up finishes, at Hangtown, in Rancho Cordova, California, Washougal, Washington and Unadilla, New York.

Cooper joins Eli Tomac and Dylan Ferrandis in the 450 class and will race select events.

Justin Cooper learned to temper aggression with speed

Cooper’s Houston attempt will be the first of an undisclosed number of races he will compete in during the 2023 season.

“It’s been about two years since I’ve lined up for a supercross, and now it’s in a new class with the best guys, so I’m excited to just get out there,” Cooper said. “I’m looking to get back under the lights and learn what I can. Overall, I’m just really excited to be in the position to be out there, so I’m going to make the most of it and enjoy it!”

Deegan and Cooper will be part of a seven-rider Supercross lineup for Yamaha Star Racing. Nick Romano will debut in the 250 East division later this year.