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.

Oliver Askew: ‘I was starting to lose confidence’ after ‘hardest hit I’ve had’

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Oliver Askew knew something was medically wrong in the days after concussion-like symptoms began from “the hardest hit I’ve ever had” in the Indianapolis 500. He’d been evaluated and cleared to race after the Aug. 23 crash, but he just didn’t feel right.

The IndyCar rookie told The Associated Press on Thursday he has been experiencing dizziness, sleeping difficulties, irritability, headaches and confusion since he crashed in the Aug. 23 race. He continued to race in four more events as he tried to “play through it” until friends and family encouraged him to seek medical treatment.

He since has been diagnosed with a concussion and is working on a recovery plan with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s sports medicine concussion program, the same place NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. received care after concussions in 2012 and ’16. Askew will not compete in next weekend’s doubleheader on the road course at Indianapolis, and Arrow McLaren SP will put three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves in the No. 7 Chevrolet.

“This is all I’ve worked for,” the 23-year-old told AP. “I don’t come from money, and I’ve worked my way up and have finally gotten my shot in a good car. And then all of a sudden, the results just weren’t there in a car I knew should be performing. And I just didn’t feel like myself, you know?

“So initially I felt like I needed to stay in the car and continue to improve. And then I didn’t feel like I could do that with my condition and what was going on. I was starting to lose confidence in myself.”

Earnhardt praised Askew for going to Pittsburgh to see Dr. Micky Collins.

“Oliver is in the best hands when it comes to taking care of this problem and getting back on the racetrack. It was very smart of him to get in front of Micky so that he could understand the seriousness of the situation and begin the process of getting well,” Earnhardt said. “You can absolutely heal from this but not without taking the step of getting help. Often that’s the most difficult step.”

Athletes often hide injuries to continue competing, and even Earnhardt admittedly masked concussions during his driving career. Askew didn’t know what was wrong with him but was frightened to get out of the car.

He is a paid driver who brings no sponsorship money to the team (but did bring a $1 million scholarship for winning last year’s Indy Lights championship), and owner Sam Schmidt holds the option on his contract.

As he tried to race on, his performance suffered. Askew had finished third and sixth at Iowa — the previous two races before Indianapolis. After the crash, he was part of a multicar accident the next week at Gateway and has not finished higher than 14th in the four races since Indy.

A year after winning seven Indy Lights races, Askew has fallen from 12th to 18th in the standings and slipped considerably off the pace. He said he struggled in team debriefs, had difficulty giving feedback and has gone through a personality change that was noticeable to those close to Askew.

Spire Sports + Entertainment, which represents Askew and was among those who pushed the driver to see a doctor, noted Arrow McLaren SP did not reveal that Askew was suffering from a concussion in its Thursday announcement he would miss next week’s race.

“Oliver clearly demonstrated his talent until Lap 91 of the Indianapolis 500, and I hope this does not become another case study of why athletes do not tell their teams they are injured,” said agent Jeff Dickerson. “The reason they do that is because more often times than not they are replaced. In motorsports, there is always somebody to replace you, and whether it was Dale Jr. or Oliver Askew, there is always another driver available.

“I hope this is not a barrier to progress for other drivers — especially young drivers afraid of losing their job — to notify their teams they are hurt. I hope the team proves me wrong because the good news is, the kid has had a head injury for the past month and has still run 14th in IndyCar.”

After finally seeking medical treatment, Askew said he was relieved to learn there was something wrong. He said doctors told him the injury has a “100% recovery rate” and he believes he will be able to race in the IndyCar season finale next month at St. Petersburg. He’s been rehabilitating with exercises and tasks that strain the brain such as deliberately going to grocery stores and the airport.

“Honestly, you know, if I had not gone to see medical professionals I would probably stay in the car,” Askew said. “But now after hearing what’s wrong and that it could get worse, God forbid I have another hit, I know I did the right thing. I think I can be an example for young drivers now in stepping up and saying something is wrong, I need to have this checked out.”