IndyCar Driver Review: Graham Rahal

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MotorSportsTalk continues its 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series driver-by-driver review. P19 after another tough season was Graham Rahal.

2014 SEASON PREVIEW

Graham Rahal

  • Team: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
  • 2013: 18th Place, Best Finish 2nd, Best Start 6th, 1 Podium, 2 Top-5, 5 Top-10, 6 Laps Led, 17.7 Avg. Start, 14.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2014: 19th Place, Best Finish 2nd, Best Start 4th, 1 Podium, 2 Top-5, 4 Top-10s, 28 Laps Led, 14.4 Avg. Start, 15.0 Avg. Finish

Graham Rahal’s second full season with his dad’s team could probably best be equated to former Ganassi teammate Charlie Kimball’s second there, in 2012. It was strange. Rahal dropped from 18th to 19th this year, but that owed more to the depth of competition than a lack of improvement by driver and team year-on-year.

There was a sense Graham gelled better with his new engineer Bill Pappas and the rest of the RLL crew. Additionally, having the sole focus on him most of the season – the team’s second car only ran eight races (six race weekends) – seemed to help.

The qualifying incrementally improved and particularly from Houston onward, Rahal had top-five finishing potential on a regular basis to go along with his sole podium in Detroit race one. Problem was, a litany of mechanical woes or other missteps – i.e. just missing out on fuel mileage at Sonoma – struck him along the way.

Rahal and the team are now in an odd position once more going into the offseason. Last year they seemed to put all the pieces together to set themselves up for a much better 2014. But now, the National Guard and its backing is out at the end of the year, there’s been another change in engineering, and RLL is suddenly back to being an endangered species in IndyCar – a single-car team. Rahal was better as a driver throughout 2014, and the team seemed to rally around him, but there will still need to be more improvements to make the leap into IndyCar’s elite status.

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.