IndyCar

Jordan King to make Indy 500 debut in 2019 with Rahal Letterman Lanigan

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Jordan King will make his IndyCar oval debut next year in the biggest races of his career. Rahal Letterman Lanigan (RLL) Racing announced on Wednesday that King will drive a Honda-powered car in the 2019 Indy 500.

King drove in the 11 road and street course races last year with Ed Carpenter Racing, scoring a best of 11th at Exhibition Place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

“I’m really happy and excited to announce that I’ll be driving in the 2019 Indy 500 with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing,” said King in a press release “This race is one that I have been working towards and a race I have always dreamt of racing in as it’s the jewel in the crown of IndyCar. I was at the race last year and I really enjoyed the whole weekend and knew straight away it was something that I had to be a part of so to be able to go there next year is definitely a huge moment in my career.”

King won the prestigious British Formula 3 title in 2013 on his way up the open wheel ladder. He scored seven podium finishes in the European F3 series in 2014, which helped secure a ride in GP2 competition the following year when he scored his first podium at Spa-Francorchamps. Two more seasons in GP2/Formula 2 saw him secure two wins and six podiums.

Jordan certainly impressed me last year with his pace at a number of races,” said Bobby Rahal, co-owner of RLL Racing. “Of course those were all road and street courses but he quickly came to grips with the Dallara and it was apparent that he has the potential to do well. While this will be his first oval race, I think that given the amount of track time, he will get up to speed and come to grips with the challenges of oval racing just as quickly. Of course it always helps to have two strong teammates and a strong team behind you to shorten the learning curve and we feel we provide that. We look forward to welcoming him to the team.”

King was immediately comfortable in IndyCar. He set a new lap record in his debut on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida this spring before qualifying fourth. King led five laps in that race, but faded to 21st at the checkers.

King has some experience at Indy as well. He qualified fifth for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

“Heading into next year, we went from not being able to find a full-time drive for the season through to securing a seat at one of the biggest races in the world which is a huge relief to be able to get sorted,” King added. “A huge thanks to RLL for the opportunity and I hope I can repay their faith in me with a good result. The race will be my first-ever on a superspeedway so it should be an exciting experience every time I get behind the wheel. The aim for the 500 is to prove myself as an oval racer. I already competed in the road and street courses this year so now I’ll be looking to impress and expand my (curriculum vitae) to push towards a full-time drive.”

Rahal determined to regain winning touch in 2019 IndyCar season

Photo by Shawn Gritzmacher, INDYCAR
INDYCAR
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AUSTIN, Texas – Graham Rahal entered the room with a smile on his face and a chip on his shoulder.

It was IndyCar “Media Day” and Rahal wasn’t happy with the way last season went at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He was less happy with the fact some aren’t considering him a serious threat in 2019. He playfully chided with one media outlet for failing to mention his team as one to watch in 2019.

“We use that as motivation to show everybody how we are viewed,” Rahal said. “We are here to win.”

Rahal just turned 30 in January but is entering his 13thseason in big-time Indy car racing. He entered the 2007 Champ Car Series season when he was just 17. He missed his high school prom because he was racing at Houston.

“That was the luckiest day of my life,” Rahal said. “I didn’t have to go to the prom. It doesn’t get any better than that.

“Plus, I got my second career podium that weekend.”

Rahal drove to victory in his very first race in the combined IndyCar Series in the 2008 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. He was hailed as the “Poster Boy of Unification” and a future star. What followed was a seven-year drought before he captured his second-career win in a thrilling race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

He won two races in 2015, one in 2016 and two in 2017. He was expected to contend for victories and possibly the championship last year but struggled through a disappointing season and finished eighth in the standings.

“I’m looking forward for chance this year,” Rahal said. “Last year was a tough one for me and for the team. I’m looking forward to what my new engineer, Allen McDonald, has done so far. He is an accomplished engineer and brings a different mindset to our program this year from what we had last year. He and (fellow engineer) Eddie Jones are very close friends and that will help us from the standpoint they are on the same page.

“We needed a bit of life brought back to the team.”

Rahal believes his challenges are to get everything in order before the season starts. The team has defined the areas where it was lacking in 2019. The team needed to improve in research and development after starting behind last season.

“I’m excited for what I see, and I know in the end it will all pay off,” Rahal said. “It’s just a matter of when.

“There is a lot to be excited about for us. We are in a great position as a team. We have great sponsorship and that will allow us to push forward and do the things we need to do.”

Rahal believes at 30, he has a long time ahead of him to win races and championships and maybe even the Indianapolis 500. In order to reach those goals, however, Rahal’s team needs to regain the competitive level he displayed prior to last year.

“We’ve been fortunate to win six times,” Rahal said. “A lot of people come into this sport and never win. I fully recognize there is no reason we can’t win a lot. I don’t care what anybody writes, what anybody thinks – I really feel that when it comes to race day, we perform better than 99 percent of the other people out there.

“As a team and for myself, we have to qualify better. If we can qualify better, we’ll be a thorn in everybody’s side. We know the rear of our cars just aren’t good enough. When we need to find that extra tenth or two, it’s just not there but absolutely, we want to win.

“I don’t come here year after year to just drive around. Our sponsors don’t invest in us year after year to not see us win. We feel that. But our cars aren’t good enough and we know that.”

Rahal believes the team has identified the problems with the setup of its car. It has a deep engineering staff but hasn’t had a chance to develop the damper program and other important areas that provide a competition setup.

Takuma Sato, the winner of the 101stIndianapolis 500 when he was with Andretti Autosport, scored the team’s only victory in 2018 with a win in the Portland Grand Prix. The two are back this year and have built a respect for each other.

“He’s a good guy,” Rahal said of Sato. “Other than Helio Castroneves, Takuma is probably the happiest man on the planet. He’s a great guy and fits in well with our organization. We pride ourselves on being a family and he fits in extremely well to that.

“We need to do a better job for him as a team. He won a race last year, but we can both do better to win with both cars.

“The Andretti cars are the best right now and the Penske cars will be good. We have a lot of space to close up on those two teams but hopefully, we can do it.”