Rahal at speed. Photo: IndyCar

IndyCar 2017 team preview: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

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MotorSportsTalk looks through the teams competing in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has ascended to the top of the Honda field the last two years and as a one-car effort, will have a combined eight cars from Ganassi and Andretti, plus another four sleepers from Schmidt Peterson and Coyne, to maintain that status in 2017.

Drivers (Engineer, Strategist)

15-Graham Rahal (Eddie Jones, Rico Nault)
16-Oriol Servia (Tom German, Jeff Schaffner)*

*Selected races only

Manufacturer/aero kit: Honda

Sponsors: Steak ‘n Shake, United Rentals, Manitowoc, Hyatt (No. 15)

What went right in 2016: Qualifying drastically improved for the team and Rahal scored a fine victory in the conclusion of Texas thanks to a series of courageous moves. The team finished a justifiable fifth points despite a roller coaster of a year. 

What went wrong in 2016: The luck and consistency that was largely present throughout 2015 went missing last year. Rarely did the team string together great back-to-back weekends and that left them perpetually playing catch-up in the points.

What’s changed for 2017: Not much other than the addition of veteran engineer Tom German, who joins an already stacked group around Rahal. The return of Oriol Servia for Indianapolis and Detroit will also help at both those venues; the Catalan remains one of IndyCar’s best plug-and-play solutions.

What they’ll look to accomplish in 2017: Significant improvement at Indianapolis, as well as a sustained title charge. With Ganassi and Andretti fielding a combined eight Hondas, staying “best in class” will be a harder accomplishment to achieve this go-around, but don’t think RLL will be any less motivated to pull it off.

MST PREDICTIONS

Tony DiZinno: I want to see RLL continue in the top five in points but the law of averages and the strength in numbers elsewhere is too large to ignore. Rahal should win at least once for a third consecutive season but in truth he was lucky to finish fifth in points last season; a seventh or eighth place finish seems more likely given this is a one-car, Honda program with four Penskes, four Ganassis and four Andrettis to contend with. End higher than that, which is possible with a good month of May, and it could be considered Rahal’s best year yet.

Kyle Lavigne: A one-car team with a Honda aero kit sounds a like a recipe for disappointment, and yet Graham Rahal and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing have been shining stars for the last two years, even making a championship run in 2015. Bad luck and a bad run at the Indianapolis 500 hampered their 2016 campaign, but the tools are still there for another strong year. They certainly have a chance to win races, especially on the road/street circuits, and the impression is that they’ve made gains on their super speedway program. If that’s the case, a season similar to 2015 could in the cards.

Luke Smith: RLL remains the little engine that could in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Graham Rahal has proven himself to be one of the championship’s most impressive talents, and while 2016 lacked the loftiness of the year prior, it was still a big success in all areas. The addition of Oriol Servia for select races will boost RLL’s chances of helping Rahal, who I’ll peg for a couple of race wins this year. Definitely capable of an upset or two through 2017.

IMSA at Mid-Ohio Sunday: How to watch, schedules, TV, stream info

IMSA Mid-Ohio schedule
IMSA
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The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship returns to a sprint as the circuit enters the stretch run of the 2020 season with a packed weekend schedule at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The Acura Sports Car Challenge will be a two-hour, 40-minute race around the 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course in Lexington, Ohio, for the DPi, GTLM and GTD classes.

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar teams will practice Friday and Saturday. Qualifying will take place at 8 a.m. Sunday before a 2 p.m. green flag (same-day delay 11 p.m. ET, NBCSN; streaming on NBC Sports App, NBCSports.com and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold) for the headlining race of a busy weekend.

There will be eight other races at Mid-Ohio across four series: the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, IMSA Prototype Challenge, Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama and the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup.

The GTLM class of IMSA’s top series will be short two entries with Porsche pulling out because of positive COVID-19 tests at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last weekend.

This will mark the seventh race of the season. After Mid-Ohio, there are three events left for the premier DPi and four for the GT division, including two of the year’s longest (the 10-hour Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring season finale).

Here are the details for IMSA this weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (all times are ET):


IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at Mid-Ohio

WHEN: Sunday, 2 p.m.

TV:  11 p.m. (same-day delay), NBCSN (streaming link); 2 p.m. NBC Sports App (streaming link) / TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold

STREAM: NBC Sports App, NBCSports.com and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold (live flag to flag starting at 2 p.m.)

RADIO: IMSA Radio will have live radio coverage throughout the weekend on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com, as well as SiriusXM

RACE DISTANCE: Two hours and 40 minutes around the 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course in Lexington, Ohio.

FORECAST: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 81 degrees with a 1% chance of rain at the green flag.

ENTRY LIST: Click here for which WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams are racing at Mid-Ohio


IMSA Mid-Ohio weekend schedule

Friday

6:10-7:10 p.m. — WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

Saturday

10:55 a.m.-12:10 p.m. — WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

Sunday

8-9:05 a.m. — WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying

2 p.m. — WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Acura Sports Car Challenge