Rahal visits Rich Eisen Show; jersey, Letterman banter follow (VIDEO)

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In advance of this weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Sunday, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN), Graham Rahal made a pit stop to The Rich Eisen Show – which airs primarily on radio, but also on Audience Network.

Rahal, a huge and proud fan of The Ohio State University and Eisen, a University of Michigan alumnus, have always enjoyed a bit of a back-and-forth exchange and rivalry between the two Big Ten schools.

When Rahal’s Ohio State Buckeyes beat Eisen’s Michigan Wolverines last fall in Jim Harbaugh’s first Ohio State-Michigan game as Michigan coach, a bet was placed that the loser would have to wear the other school’s attire for a bit.

And good on Eisen, he was all set and ready to wear an Ohio State hat before Rahal busted out a jersey to add to the proceedings.

The driver of the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda, which this weekend will carry primary sponsorship from D-A Lubricant Co.’s PennGrade brand, and Eisen had a solid 14-minute or so chat about so much more than just racing. The full clip is above.

At one point the two touched on Rahal’s team co-owner David Letterman’s whereabouts and how Letterman has carte blanche to show up or disappear wherever and whenever he wants.

“I did see Letterman… I’m really not sure (what’s going on),” Rahal told Eisen. “The beard thing’s been going. But the shaved head … he’s looking straight at the paparazzi, proudly wearing Ball State Volleyball.

“We haven’t heard from him or seen him much this year. Hopefully we get him out to Long Beach this weekend.”

For what it’s worth, today’s as good a day as any to note Letterman’s presence because it’s his 69th birthday.

Here’s him at the Indianapolis 500 last year with Rahal’s father and team co-owner Bobby Rahal.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.