On paper the first three races of Graham Rahal’s season to date, with one Top-10 finish and two P11 finishes, might not seem overly impressive. But consider the environment in which they’ve occurred.
Rahal races for Rahal Letterman Lanigan, a one-car team co-owned by his father, Bobby, that is running consistently near the front of a field dominated by the multi-car teams of Penske, Ganassi and Andretti. This is after team restructuring in the offseason.
With the Verizon IndyCar Series heading to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. this weekend, the team could have reason to believe they’ll be able to move higher on grid for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.
“We had a really good test at Barber,” Rahal said in a release two days of testing in March at the 17-turn, 2.3-mile permanent road course. “Obviously the conditions were cooler than what we will see this weekend but all in all I feel pretty good about our ability to be competitive at the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama.”
At the two-day testing session, Rahal’s fastest lap in his No. 15 Honda was 1:07.6203. That put him at P7 for the entire weekend and gave him the fastest time among the Honda powered teams. The next highest was Foyt driver Takuma Sato in P10 at 1:07.6638.
Rahal goes into Barber as one of eight drivers in the field to have competed in all five IndyCar races at the track, beginning in 2010.
In those five races, Rahal’s best finish, and his only one in the top 10, was P4 in 2012 with Chip Ganassi Racing.
Sunday will also be Rahal’s second race with Steak ‘N Shake as his primary sponsor. The first was last weekend at Long Beach where he finished 11th after starting eighth.
“The Long Beach race was frustrating but I feel like we can have a strong rebound,” Rahal said. “We won’t find out until we get on track but certainly at the test we were right up there so I’m hoping we can have a good show on the weekend because we need the points.”
Rahal is currently 10th in points after three races, 57 behind Juan Pablo Montoya.
“Since it’s only a two day event this year we have to be right on top of our game in the practice sessions and qualifying,” Rahal said. “We definitely can’t miss a beat.”