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Bobby Rahal reunites with sponsor from 26 years ago in new multi-year deal

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Young race car drivers, take note: never burn bridges with former sponsors. You never know when you may team back up with them again.

Bobby Rahal is the perfect example. Back in 1992, when he earned his third IndyCar championship, Rahal was sponsored by Total S.A., one of the largest oil and lubricant companies in the world.

Fast forward 26 years and Rahal and Total are once again partners, as it was announced Wednesday that the company’s TOTAL QUARTZ brand will become the official lubricant for the No. 15 Indy car that will be driven by Graham Rahal in the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series.

In what is being termed a multi-year deal, TOTAL QUARTZ will serve as an associate sponsor on Graham Rahal’s car for the entire season, and will also serve as primary sponsor for April 15th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

“I am very pleased to welcome Total back to the team after many years,” said Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, with David Letterman and Mike Lanigan. “Reuniting with a world class company like Total, that is not only the fourth largest oil and gas company in the world, but one that also has a long and successful history in motorsports globally, is very exciting.

“Renewing the relationship with them after having been together for my championship year in 1992 is a real thrill for me personally given our success. It is an exciting time for the company as they expand in North America. We look forward to helping spread the word and flying the Total colors at Long Beach as the primary sponsor and seeing them on our cars as an associate sponsor for many years to come.”

Total is a major player in motorsports, including partnerships in Formula 1, 24 Hours of Le Mans, World Rally Championship, and Dakar Rally, among others. It’s also the official lubricant partner of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and also the Red Bowl Global Rallycross series.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan was looking for additional sponsorship for this season for his son’s car, while Total was looking to partner with an IndyCar team. Because of Bobby Rahal’s relationship, once both sides started talking, it was a quick route to sealing a new deal.

“We looked to them, they looked to us,” Bobby Rahal said. “Consequently, the conversation was very lively, very passionate.

“Clearly having had a previous relationship didn’t hurt, that we had so much success before. I think clearly the success of the team over the last several years was a draw.

“Total has a great reputation in motorsports in particular, many Formula One championships, World Rally championships, Le Mans victories.

“For us Total represented in particular the potential of a real technical advantage that we might be able to fashion with them in terms of lubricants and what have you. It just seemed like a good fit as we approached it from both ends.”

Could Scott Dixon someday break Foyt, Andretti wins and championships records?

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With five races left in the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season, Scott Dixon is in the driver’s seat to potentially earn a fifth career IndyCar championship.

After winning Sunday at Toronto, Dixon now has a 62-point edge over second-ranked and defending series champ Josef Newgarden and a 70-point lead over third-ranked Alexander Rossi.

The triumph north of the border was Dixon’s third there, as well as his 44th career IndyCar win, third-highest in IndyCar annals.

Add in the four IndyCar championships and those are stellar numbers indeed.

What makes things all the more amazing is Dixon has done all that in under 18 full seasons on the IndyCar circuit. Heck, he’s only 37 years old, too (although he turns 38 on July 22).

Dixon’s championships have come in 2003 (his first full season in IndyCar after two prior seasons in CART/Champ Car), 2008, 2013 and most recently in 2015.

The quiet, unassuming New Zealander has been one of the most successful drivers ever not just in IndyCar, but in all forms of motorsports.

When his name is mentioned, it’s typically included with the only two drivers who have more career wins than he does: A.J. Foyt (67 wins and seven championships, both records) and Mario Andretti (52 wins and four titles).

That’s a pretty lofty pair to be part of.

One might think that after all the success he’s had, Dixon could easily walk away from IndyCar and Chip Ganassi Racing and enjoy an early retirement.

But competing in and winning races isn’t really a job for Dixon. He enjoys what he’s doing so much that he easily could keep doing what he’s doing – and at a high level – for another seven or more years, at least.

So, can Dixon catch Mario and A.J.? The former would be easier than the latter, for sure.

Numerically, it’s possible – at least part of it:

* Dixon can easily be competitive into his mid-40s.

* He’s averaged three-plus wins every season since 2007 (37 wins from then through Sunday). That means if he can keep that average going, he could reach 24 more wins – to overtake Foyt – by 2026. Yes, that may be a stretch to even imagine, but if there’s any current driver who potentially could overtake Foyt, it’s Dixon.

* Dixon already has three wins this season, and with five more races still to go, he could easily win another one, two or maybe even three more in 2018 as he continues his road to the championship. And let’s not forget that with each additional win, that’s one win closer to overtaking Andretti and Foyt.

In his usual modest and humble manner, Dixon downplays not just talk comparing him with Andretti and Foyt, but also overtaking one or both.

“I think A.J. is pretty safe,” he said. “He’s a long ways ahead. … Eight (championships) is an infinity away. Takes a long time to get eight.”

But that doesn’t mean Dixon can’t keep working at approaching Foyt’s mark.

“I think for us, we take it race by race,” he said. “We’re in the business of winning races. If we’re not doing that, I won’t have a job for too long. That’s the focus for right now.”

If he wins the championship this year, he’ll pass Andretti’s championship mark. That would be one record down, three to go.

And if he can win nine more races over the next few seasons, he’ll pass Andretti’s 52 career wins, making it two records down and two more to go.

“Right now with 44 wins, next on the list is Mario I think at 52 or something,” Dixon said after Sunday’s win. “We’ll see how it goes. Right now, we’re just trying to get the job done for the team.”

And he’s doing a darn good job at that indeed – with likely even more success still to come.

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