Steak ‘n Shake expands primary sponsorship to Pocono, Sonoma for Rahal

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Graham Rahal has called Steak ‘n Shake his “good luck charm” in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season, and that charm will be with him to finish it out as he and the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team go for a championship.

The company’s initial six-race primary sponsorship deal (Long Beach, both Indianapolis, both Detroit and Mid-Ohio) has now expanded to the final two races of the year at Pocono Raceway at Sonoma Raceway respectively the next two weeks. It had maintained associate sponsorship status in the races it hasn’t been on board as primary.

“The excitement and support of Steak ‘n Shake’s involvement with the team and Indy car racing has exceeded my wildest expectations,” team co-owner Bobby Rahal said in a release.

“I said when we first announced the partnership that it was our goal to put them in Victory Lane and we have been able to do that two times this season and finish on the podium a series-high six times overall so far.

“I’m very happy they have extended their relationship with us to include primary sponsorship at Pocono and Sonoma where we hope to bring them more success and hopefully a championship.”

The amount of content – and buzz – generated by Steak ‘n Shake’s involvement in IndyCar this season has been a good thing for all parties. Graham Rahal has made no secret of that fact, including during the post-race press conference following his win at Mid-Ohio.

“Those guys, I feel like they’re the good luck charm. Steak ‘n Shake came on this year, and I don’t know, things just started to click,” Rahal said at Mid-Ohio.

“You know, like particularly here, this race, having that sponsor is pretty cool for me because I used to go Steak ‘N Shake over here all the time when I was a kid with all my buddies, in my teen years, causing a lot of trouble. So it’s pretty cool to kind of come full circle.

“We’d like them to continue for next year. We really want to build this team and continue. I don’t have a contract with this team, but I don’t plan on going anywhere. I mean, I feel like who’s better?  You know, that’s kind of where I’m at.”

Indianapolis 500 weather forecast: Rain chances decreasing for start

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INDIANAPOLIS — As the green flag keeps approaching for the 103rd Indianapolis 500, the chances of clear skies Sunday keep increasing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The chance of rain at the start of the race was down to about 30%, according to the wunderground.com site as of late Saturday night, and the forecast seemed good until late afternoon when the odds of precipitation rose to about 80%.

If the race starts on time at12:45 p.m. ET, that should be a long enough window to run the full 500 miles and certainly an official race (102 of 200 laps).

With Indiana on the western edge of the Eastern Time Zone and a 9:02 p.m. sunset on race day, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Doug Boles said the green flag probably could be held as late as 6 p.m. if a worst-case scenario of bad weather hits.

THE 103RD INDIANAPOLIS 500: Click here for how to watch

“We ran the NASCAR race (in 2017) almost right up to sunset,” Boles said. “The challenge of getting closer to sunset is just getting people out when it’s still light. The race itself is more than 2 hours and 40 minutes so you have to back-time yourself.

“We’ll sit down with IndyCar over the next 24 hours and at least have that in the back of our mind. If there’s a window to get it done, our intent would be get it in Sunday, so we would want to go as late as we could.”

Boles said National Weather Service representatives are on site this weekend to help with forecasting. Regardless of if there still is a threat of rain, the track will start the race on time as long as the surface is dry.

“I can’t imagine we’d postpone the start because we think it might rain,” Boles said. “If it’s not raining, we’re running the race.

Boles said track officials are monitoring Sunday’s weather daily but won’t discuss any potential contingency plans until Saturday night. Regardless of whether it’s raining Sunday morning, some pre-race ceremonies likely will remain in place.

“It’s hard to speculate on what’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s likely Sunday morning will be the first time that we have any definitive statement on what we think is going to happen. Instead of giving you information that we don’t know what it’s going to be like, I’d rather wait until that Sunday when we see the conditions, and we’ll let you know.

“Obviously, if it’s raining, then we’ll have to decide what the next steps are.”

Boles said Indiana weather traditionally is unpredictable, noting that qualifying was completed last Sunday despite predictions of a complete washout.

“Last year the prediction was it was going to rain on race day, we got up next morning, and it was perfect,” Boles said. “It just changes so rapidly around here.”

Should it rain, IndyCar officials will make every reasonable attempt to run the Indy 500 on time,. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway also recently used a new sealant on the track surface which makes it quicker to dry the racing surface.

During the previous 102 runnings of the Indy 500, there have been 12 impacted by rain: three complete postponements; two partial postponements and seven shortened races.

So what happens if it does rain? Some options:

Rain-shortened race

The Indy 500 could turn into the Indy 255. If more than 255 miles (102 laps) are completed in Sunday’s race, the race can be deemed official. If the race is called, driver’s finishing positions are based on their position in the race at the time of the caution flag for rain.

The Indy 500 has been shortened by rain only seven times, most recently in 2007. The race was stopped nearly three hours because of rain on Lap 113 and was declared officially over with Dario Franchitti in the lead when rain again hit at the 415-mile mark.

Partial postponement

If fewer than 102 laps are completed Sunday, the race will resume on the next dry day. With most Americans on holiday Monday because of Memorial Day, a partial postponement still might allow for a healthy audience at the track and watching on NBC.

The race has been partially postponed only twice in the 102 previous runnings, in 1967 and 1973.

Complete postponement

Fans shouldn’t worry too much about a complete postponement of the race, as it has only happened three times, most recently in 1997. If rain completely postpones the Indy 500, the race will be rescheduled for the next day with the start time dependent on the forecast.

The 1997 race ran 15 laps on Monday before rain again postponed the remainder of the race until Tuesday. The 1915 and ’86 runnings were postponed until the following Saturday.